Joan Watson de Bustin
Joan Watson de Bustin was one of a very early group of individuals to experience the Alaska Highway as a tourist. In 1947, she travelled the full length of the road on a bus journey from Edmonton to Fairbanks. On this trip, Watson de Bustin produced a large body of watercolours and pencil drawings depicting the landscape, settlements, and people of the region. Her works are an unique contrast to the extensive amount of photographic documentation and offer a more distinct and individual interpretation of the Highway. In these small illustrations, she animates the details of life and brings forth the vivid colour of an area largely documented in black and white. Watson de Bustin produced over 60 images on her trip and would self-publish these works in 1989 in her book From End of Steel to the Far Northwest. The complete set of works is now in the collection of the National Archives of Canada. She donated a related group of photographs of military activity along the Highway to the museum at C.F.B. Borden.
Born in Toronto in 1921, Joan Watson de Bustin studied painting and drawing at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art School under Arthur Lismer and later studied medical illustration at the University of Toronto. During the Second World War, she served in the Red Cross and Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service. During the Korean War, she was stationed in Japan. She currently lives in Barrie, Ontario.