Canadian artist Ted Harrison died peacefully in his sleep Friday morning in Victoria. He was 88.

Harrison was best known for his distinctive paintings of Yukon. He also designed the entrance of the Yukon Pavilion at Expo 86.

"Today's a very important day for many Canadians to remember a great man," said Katherine Gibson, who wrote the biography Ted Harrison: Painting Paradise in 2009.

Gibson said Harrison immortalized northern Canadian art.

"Most of all he teaches us through his art that there is joy in life, and if we want to we can just look at his paintings and see that."

The son of a miner, Harrison grew up in County Durham, U.K.. He travelled and lived in many parts of the world, including Malaysia and New Zealand.

Ted Harrison

Canadian artist Ted Harrison, 2008

He began his life in Canada in northern Alberta, before moving to Yukon in 1968. He stayed there until 1993.

"During that time he discovered the Yukon Northern Lights and the wonderful people and community that he fell in love with," said Gibson.

"And of course the beautiful flashing lights of the Yukon informed the art that we love so much today."

Laurel Parry, a manager in the cultural branch of the Yukon government, was taught by Harrison in her high school art class in Whitehorse during the 70s.

She says every artist has been inspired by an art teacher like him.

"I remember how passionate he was about art, and how in the middle of class he would interrupt us to do a 'sermon,' as he called it and he would expound, without notes, with incredible storytelling about an artist or a movement in art history," Parry says.

She says local people were becoming aware at that time that Harrison's work was becoming sought after outside the territory and they were proud of him and happy with the way he was presenting Yukon to the world.

ART Ted Harrison

"Hanging Sky," a painting by Canadian artist Ted Harrison (Ho/The Canadian Press)

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story showed an erroneous photo. It has now been corrected.
    Jan 16, 2015 2:51 PM PT