Sonia Cornwall (1919-2006), a prominent west coast artist who grew up on the Onward Ranch in the heart of B.C.’s Cariboo district, first met A.Y. Jackson in 1943 when he visited the ranch as a guest of Sonia’s mother, Vivien Cowan. Jackson became a regular visitor to the ranch over the next several years and encouraged Sonia to pursue her childhood ambition to paint, often critiquing her work and on one occasion in 1963 even submitted one of her pieces to a juried show in Hamilton, Ontario.
Sonia tells the story that Jackson, at the end of his painting trips to the Onward Ranch, and before he left to return to Ontario, would display the sketches from his trip around the living room floor and invite Sonia to choose one for herself. Over the years Sonia acquired several fine works by her friend and mentor, one of which was the two-sided panel, Onward Ranch, likely painted in the mid to late 1940s. In 1946 Jackson became honorary president and founder, along with Vivien Cowan, of the Cariboo Society of Artists – the second oldest art society in B.C.