Born in Montreal, Canada to a poor family with six children, Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson began working at the age of twelve to help support the family after his father had abandoned them. While working at the lithograph company, he was able to take art classes at The Monument-National in Montreal. Jackson traveled overseas to Europe for the first time in 1905 before returning to the United States to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1907, he returned to Paris to study impressionism under Jean-Paul Laurens at The Académie Julian. While traveling through Northern France, Jackson developed a Neo-impressionist style. He visited the Etaples art colony where he painted “Paysage embrumée” which to his surprise was accepted by the Paris Salon giving him some of his earliest recognition.
Alexander Young Jackson returned to Quebec, Canada in 1913 and held his first exhibition with Randolph Hewton at the Montreal Art Gallery. He and several other landscape artists were known to make trips to Georgian Bay, Algoma, Algonquin Park and the North Shore which in 1920 became part of a group known as the Algonquin School, or the Group of Seven. Their bold style was based on their belief that art could be developed with nature.
By 1933, the original group dissolved but A. Y. Jackson helped form a new group known as the Canadian Group of Painters which also included women, something very uncommon during that time period. In 1958, Jackson published an autobiography dedicated in memory of Group of Seven member J.E.H. McDonald titled A Painter’s Country. His painting career ended following a serious stroke in 1965 and shortly thereafter he settled in Kleinburg, Ontario on the McMichael Conservation Estate where he is now buried on the grounds. Alexander Young Jackson passed away at the age of 91.