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Dr. Maurice Haycock

Dr. Maurice Haycock wasn’t a Yukoner, but he could have been. I first met him in 1964 when he accompanied his friend A.Y. Jackson to Whitehorse on one of their many northern painting expeditions together.

At the time, Mr. Jackson, the most famous Group of Seven painter, was approaching his 80th year. He needed the help of his friend and fellow artist, Maurice Haycock, who was 18 years younger. I met Jackson and Haycock in the Stratford Motel as they were preparing for a trip to Lake Lebarge to do, as Haycock always said, “some sketching.”

I was interviewing Jackson for local radio, and recall that I didn’t ask many questions. The famous artist was well prepared to discuss his life-long painting association with the north. He talked for about an hour.

Maurice Haycock, I learned when I accompanied him to Lake Laberge with A.Y. Jackson, was a trained geologist who fell in love with the north when he spent a year in Pangnirtung on Baffin Island in 1926.

He had gone there to assist in mapping the interior of the arctic island for the Geological Survey of Canada.

He lived with the Inuit, learned the language, journeyed by dog team and, when he returned south, he earned a Ph.D. in Economic Geology at Princeton University.

The inspiration for Haycock’s painting career came from the Arctic landscapes, and through a chance meeting with A.Y. Jackson, who was painting the north in 1927 while travelling on the government ship, the Beothic.

Following a visit to Great Bear Lake in 1949 with Jackson, he travelled and painted extensively across the north, virtually every year until his death in 1988.

To many in the art world, he became the eighth member of the Group of Seven. His paintings tell a story of geological vastness and beauty, of peace, challenge and exploration.

Dr. Maurice Haycock was more than a painter. He was a trained mineralogist, geologist, photographer, musician, and historian. He was, when I knew him in Ottawa in the 1980s, a virtual encyclopedia of both northern science and folklore.

Maurice Haycock, former head of the Geological Survey of Canada, painter, musician, 1981
Maurice Haycock, former head of the Geological Survey of Canada, painter, musician, 1981 Click for larger view.

I had many occasions to talk with him and glean his knowledge about the north that he so willingly gave for radio programs. One day at his home, he showed me sketches that he had recently made in the Yukon.

At the time, he was turning the sketches into full-blown oil paintings. Though the sketches were crude and quickly done, I could identify many of the Yukon scenes.

A few years previous, Rolf and Margaret Hougen had invited him to come to the Yukon to paint whatever he wanted. Haycock’s work had come to the attention of Marg Hougen, who had bought one of his paintings during the trip with A.Y. Jackson in 1964.

This time, Rolf wanted Dr. Haycock to paint the rest of the Yukon and provided a motor home in Inuvik so that he could drive down the Dempster Highway, painting and sketching. The Haycocks spent several days in Dawson City, Carmacks and Fort Selkirk.

They drove the Canol Road painting all the way. Rolf Hougen remembers that Dr. Haycock did about one hundred paintings, one of which appeared on the cover of the NorthwesTel phone book in 1986.

It is called “The Peel River Valley and the Ogilvie Range from the Dempster Highway.”

Maurice Haycock died on December 23, 1988, at the age of 88 years, in Ottawa, where he is remembered as the Artist of the Arctic.


A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin



DC3 Weather Vane

My first airplane flight came in 1954 when I flew from Whitehorse to Dawson City where I would spend the summer holidays with my brother who was the Canadian Pacific airlines agent in the gold rush city.

Was the aircraft used on that flight the DC3 which now serves as the most unique weather vane in the world? Maybe. I’ll bet Bob Cameron knows!

Locals may be so used to the Canadian Pacific aircraft which sits on a pedestal at the airport that they barely notice it anymore. But next time you drive by, have a closer look at history.

On December 17th 1935, the first DC 3 took its maiden flight and marked the first time that airline operators could make money simply by carrying passengers. Between 1935 and 1947 the Douglas Aircraft Company built over ten thousand DC3. Today there are still almost a 1,000 in flying condition.

The Douglas aircraft at the Whitehorse airport was built in 1942 and spent the rest of World War two in the camouflage colours of the US air force flying in India as part of the India-China Wing of Air Transport Command.

Back then it was called a C47, but when the war ended, the plane was sold to Grant McConachie’s newly established Canadian Pacific Airlines. The plane was converted to a civilian DC 3 and issued the Canadian registration number CF-CPY.

The plane flew southern routes in Canada until CPA upgraded their mainliners to bigger aircraft in the mid ‘50s. Then it came to the Yukon for service on the Dawson-Mayo-Whitehorse route. In 1960 the plane was sold to Connelly Dawson Airways and for the next six years she hauled supplies into the northern Yukon including oil exploration camps in Eagle Plains.

In 1966, the plane was purchased by Great Northern Airways based in Whitehorse and did a lot of bush flying until her last flight in November 1970. Finally, it was donated to the Yukon Flying club which in 1977 came up with an eye-catching idea.

The plane would be restored to its original Canadian Pacific Airline colours for permanent display at the Whitehorse Airport. The unveiling took place in 1981 after four years of meticulous work by volunteers.

Pivoting on its base, the aircraft always points into the wind. And it is so precise that it will rotate with only a minor breeze.

In 1998, after nearly eighteen years on the stand, the plane was removed for a second restoration. It took three years and almost fifteen hundred hours of volunteer labour before CF-CPY was ready to be reinstalled on the original pedestal on September 16, 2001.

It is likely to be flying on the pedestal for the next twenty years or so with her brilliant white, black and red colour scheme of Canadian Pacific Airlines - 1950s vintage.


A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin