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 Maurice Hall Haycock  (1900 - 1988)

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Lived/Active: Ontario/Nova Scotia / Canada      Known for: snowscene, harbors, landscape and historic site painting, photography, musician

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
From North Knoll of Smallwood Ore-body
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Dr. Maurice Hall Haycock BSc, MA, PhD, LLD, FMSA, RCGS, AINA (1900 - 1988)

A distinguished geologist and mineralogist and a prominent Canadian painter, photographer, musician, explorer, historian, archeologist, educator and arts community leader, Dr. Maurice Hall Haycock was born in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and died in Ottawa, Ontario, where he had lived most of his life. His work with the Geological Survey of Canada and later the Department of Mines and Resources of Canada [now Natural Resources Canada] involved extensive travel in the arctic where he also painted, photographed and filmed works of artistic and historic importance. His paintings are in several museums.

His mediums were oils, acrylics, watercolors and pastels. His best known subjects were landscapes, snowscapes, harbors, mountains, rivers, lakes, historic sites, and human activities (Inuit*, mining, exploration, military, commercial and governmental) in the far north and Arctic regions of the North West Territories (including Ellesmere Island and Baffin Island), Greenland and the North Pole. He also painted in the Yukon, Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. His paintings of southern Canada depict places like the Rocky Mountains, the Prairies, Lake Superior, Georgian Bay, Algonquin Park, the Gaspe Coast, and the Nova Scotia shoreline. His styles were Impressionism*, Plein-Air Painting* and Realism*. AskART Images have some excellent illustrations of his oeuvre.

Haycock earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts degree in Geology from Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia (1926) and a doctorate in Economic Geology from Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (1931). He joined the Department of Mines and Resources of Canada in 1931 and worked there until retirement in 1965; however his arctic travels and pursuits in the arts and as a scientist, historian and archeologist continued until the end of his life.

As an artist he would be considered self taught. He began to paint in watercolors and pastels in 1935 and, with A.Y. Jackson's encouragement, transitioned to oils in 1944. Haycock's only noted painting education occurred in about 1939 when he "? took some instruction from Wilfrid Flood (1904 - 1946), Frank Hennessey, Tom Wood and others." However, Haycock's informal education would have to include his frequent sketching trips with A.Y Jackson (whom he met on an arctic voyage - S.S. Beothic - in 1927), as well as his trips and friendships with other prominent Canadian artists such as Lawren S. Harris, Ralph Burton, Leo Mol, Frederick Varley, Dr. Frederick Banting, Charles Howard Spratt (b. 1938), and Grant Tigner. Haycock also taught at the Ottawa School of Art and at Nepean High School, Ottawa (c.1950's). (1)(2)

He was a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America, and a member of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society and the Arctic Institute of North America. As a French horn player, he was a member of the Parkdale United Church Orchestra, the Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Ottawa Civic Symphony. He was a co-founder of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra (1960) and founder, conductor, and first President of the Ottawa Civic Symphony [later Ottawa Symphony Orchestra] (1965). It should also be noted that, at the outbreak of World War I he enlisted with the Seaforth Highlanders when he was fifteen years old and served overseas for nearly two years, before it was discovered that he was not yet 17 and honorably discharged.

Haycock began commercial solo exhibitions of his paintings in 1945; from that time through to the 1960s he held over 20 solo exhibitions. Since then the venues for solo exhibitions of his works have included the Art Gallery of Memorial University, St. John's, NFLD (1970 and 1980); The Explorer Hotel, Yellowknife, N.W.T. (1976); the Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa (1977); the Denis Coolican Building, Ottawa (2000); and at Nepean High School (2011). His paintings were also included in the group exhibitions "Other Perspectives: Landscapes of Newfoundland and Labrador" at the Art Gallery of Memorial University, St. John's, NFLD (1979) and in "Arctic Quest" at the Varley Art Gallery, Unionville, Ontario and touring (2006).

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Canadian War Museum (Ottawa), Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa) [photographs and movie film], Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories), The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery (St. John's, NFLD), and the University of Saskatchewan Art Collection (Saskatoon). 

Among Dr. Haycock's honors and awards is the naming of the South African ore, which he discovered, "Haycockite" (1971); Honorary Citizen of the City of Ottawa and key to the city "for his contributions in science, art and music" (1975); and an honorary doctorate (LLD) from Acadia University (1986). In 1980 the Governor General of Canada presented Haycock with the Royal Canadian Geographic Society Massey Medal which recognizes outstanding career achievement in the exploration, development or description of the geography of Canada. The citation reads in part:

"Already a scholar of European exploration and development of the Canadian Arctic, he has made it his personal enterprise to paint the sites of the chief camps, landing places, wintering stations and depots of the early explorers. He has assembled a unique, authentic, and artistically beautiful record of some of the most historically significant places in the nation. His record not only shows history; it shows geological changes, the signs of modern development, and, unfortunately, the effects of vandalism. His record of the Arctic historic sites not only records our past; it records the present and gives a sobering look at our people and our future?. Maurice Haycock is the epitome of a truly geographical Canadian. He has added to our knowledge and the appreciation of our land in many real ways that affect our economy, our understanding, and our culture." (3)

(1) Quote source: A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume Two, G - Jackson (1970), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references).

(2) All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes, except those with life-dates after their names, have their own records in AskART.

(3) Sources: The Arctic Circular, March/June 1980 p. 3. Reprinted with permission from Canadian Geographic, vol. 100, no. 3, June/July 1980, p. 59.

A.Y. Jackson: The Life of a Landscape Painter (2009), by Wayne Larsen (see AskART book references)

On site with Maurice Haycock: Artist of the Arctic - paintings and drawings of historical sites in the Canadian Arctic (2007), by Maurice Haycock (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume Two, G - Jackson (1970), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

"Dr. M.H. Haycock", The Ottawa Journal, Saturday, June 5, 1965 p. 2.

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

Royal Canadian Geographic Society (website)

Library and Archives Canada (website)

M Haycock (website)

Ottawa River Institute (website)

Arctic Institute of North America - obituary by J.M. Harrison and G.D. Hobson - The mineral and locality database (website)

Mireille Eagan, M.A., Curator of Contemporary Art, The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Written and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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