John M. Horton, Mariner Artist.  Peter Vassilopoulos. 2007

John M. Horton, Mariner Artist. Peter Vassilopoulos. 2007

Vassilopoulos, Peter.  
John M. Horton, Mariner Artist.  
Heritage House Publishing Co Ltd.  
ISBN 9781894974349.

There were no official artists on George Vancouver’s voyage, but some of “the officers and young gentlemen of the quarter-deck” were able to draw, and did so, especially three midshipmen: John Sykes, Henry Humphrys and Thomas Heddington.  58 views were engraved for the first edition of the official publication.1  For those people wishing to see more paintings about Vancouver’s voyage, I recommend this book. 


John Horton, a marine artist, re-sailed Vancouver’s 1792/1794 voyages from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State to Alaska, and produced a series of 50 paintings of how the area would have looked during Vancouver’s voyage.  They formed part of the 1992 celebrations of the 200th anniversary of his voyage, and the 2007 celebrations of the 250th anniversary of his birth.2  


This book of 176 pages has over 100 paintings/illustrations in four sections of which “Voyages of Discovery” is one.  It covers the voyages of both James Cook and George Vancouver on the coast of British Columbia, with four paintings for the Cook voyage, and nine for Vancouver. 


The biography portion of the book gives the story of Horton’s life and professional development.  Born in England, in 1935, he joined the Royal Navy, and was engaged in the Fishery Protection work in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans.  In 1966, he moved with his wife and family to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he developed his skills as a marine artist.  As his portfolio grew, he took on commissions of tugs, freighters, fish boats and naval vessels.  His aim is to create paintings that are “accurate historical references” incorporating recognizable shore features with backgrounds that reflect the period.  He has produced over 1,500 paintings.

Horton is a founding member of the Canadian Society of Marine Artists, a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and the Honourable Company of Master Mariners of Canada.3


Following the section headed about “Voyages of Discovery”, come three more:

  • Maritime Impressions—maritime history and culture in British Columbia
  • Naval Reflections—contributions to military history
  • Expanding Horizons—subjects like fishermen in Morocco and Mexico


Overall, I am glad to have a copy on my bookshelf.  I enjoy the artwork with the excerpts and anecdotes from the logs and journals.  It is easy to look at the paintings, and they allow the mind to visualize Cook and Vancouver doing their surveying and reconnaissance.



James Corbet



  1. Lamb, W. Kaye.  The Voyage of George Vancouver 1791 – 1795.  Hakluyt Society.  1984.  Volume I.  Page 264. 
  2. Visit
  3. Visit

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 22, volume 37, number 4 (2014).

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