BONAVENTURE – Starting Number 2 (Photos by Jennifer Jordan)

John van Haastrecht Adds to Art Collection

Article by: Rod McDonald

In 2011,H7076 John van Haastrecht donated a collection of 69 paintings to RMC, including the works of Batten, Tillenius, Keirstead, Robertson and Dickson to name a few. However, one of his favourite sets was a series of 5 paintings by Jack Ford, a RCN aviator who flew the Tracker aircraft on HMCS Bonaventure as did John.

After retiring in 1993 Jack took up painting as a pastime. His works included 5 paintings depicting flight operations on board HMCS Bonaventure. In his own words Jack Ford said: “Painstaking is a good word to describe what I do, but at the end it is very worth it to show fellow Canadians a segment of our Military history that has almost been over looked. I also do it to honor the great many friends who were killed in Naval Aviation while serving on Canada’s four aircraft carriers”.

John fell in love with the paintings and snapped them up as part of his collection, which he proudly displayed in his office in downtown Toronto until donating them to RMC. John recently became aware that Jack Ford had painted a sixth in the series, and wishing to complete the set, purchased the original from him. Having recently arrived, the photos show 8057 Ross McKenzie, Curator of the RMC Museum receiving the painting from, Rod McDonald, Executive VP, RMC Foundation.

“Staring Number 2” will fly in formation with the other 5 paintings in the series. They can be viewed on the 3rd floor of the Mackenzie Building.




Jack joined the Royal Canadian Navy/Canadian Armed Forces in 1957 and served primarily as a navy pilot. He flew the CS2F Tracker on two operational tours from HMCS BONAVENTURE, a light Fleet Carrier, with VS-880 Squadron. Jack also served as a Landing Signals Officer (LSO).

From 1971 to 1973 Jack was on Exchange Duties with the US Navy out of Quonset Pt., R.I. with VS-32 and VS-22 Squadrons flying the S2E aircraft. In all, he flew from the USS ESSEX, WASP, INTREPID, SARATOGA, FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT and LEXINGTON, accumulating over 300 deck landings including over 100 night landings.

Returning to Canada, Jack served in a wide variety of staff and ground positions including two tours in the Middle East with the United Nations as a Military Observer working out of Jerusalem, Tiberias and Cairo.

Jack finished flight duties with VP-405 Squadron flying the CP-107 Argus long range patrol aircraft, and the CP-140 Aurora in the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role About Jack Ford – The Pilot and the Artist From an artistic point-of-view, Jack started sketching while in the Middle East. Upon retirement in 1993 he took up the challenges of painting and hasn’t looked back since. His subject matter ranges from landscapes and pets, to seascapes and portraits but it is his naval aviation scenes that bring his memories as a pilot to life in a vivid and sensitive fashion. His renderings of the “Bonaventure” scenes and “S2-Roger Ball” bring back a time when young, fearless and dedicated carrier pilots shared demanding and often dangerous flying experiences during the Cold War. It was a special time when unique and lasting bonds were created.

Copies of a number of Jack’s paintings are currently on display at three military museums across Canada. Jack now resides with his wife Judy in the town of Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada, located on the east coast of beautiful Vancouver Island.