A.Y. Jackson and Maurice Hall Haycock

By Aggie Frasunkiewicz
Young Canada Works Position, Summer 2019

The Group of Seven, active in the 1920s and 1930s cemented the iconic Canadian landscape within the global artistic community. The Group, established in 1920 by artists Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H MacDonald, and F.H. Varley frequently travelled to remote areas of Canada to capture the rugged Canadian scenery. Although the works of the Group of Seven often depicted Canada as terra nullius (nobody’s land), devoid of Indigenous presence, the impact made by the Group on the art world in the 20th century was insurmountable.

Of the many expeditions taken by A.Y. Jackson, the trip he took to Ellesmere Island with Dr. Frederick Banting in 1927 forged a strong, and long-lasting friendship with Maurice Hall Haycock - the Canadian Arctic Artist. Jackson and Banting went on a government sponsored excursion, which aided the Canadian government to establish a sense of Canadian possession of the Arctic as foreign explorers challenged Canadian jurisdiction. Maurice Hall Haycock, sometimes referred to as an unofficial member of the Group of Seven started out in the Arctic on a surveying assignment shortly after graduating with a BSc and a MA in Geology. Haycock began painting from the many photographs he took in the Arctic, and soon after began experimenting with watercolours and pastels en plein air.

After their initial encounter, Haycock and Jackson began communicating back and forth and went on many painting trips around Canada and the Arctic. Their works created a discernible Canadian identity with the Arctic that ensured Canadian sovereignty of the North.

This photograph, taken by George Hunter depicts A.Y. Jackson and Maurice Haycock carrying their Pochade boxes and their stools walking towards another painting location. Behind Haycock and Jackson is George Hunter’s custom built Prevost coach bus “Photography”, built in the mid 1960’s. The coach bus was outfitted with an office, a darkroom, and sleeping/living quarters, as well as a twenty-five foot hydraulic ladder that permitted high-angle shots.