08/19/2013 02:07 EDT | Updated 10/19/2013 05:12 EDT

Manitoba wildlife photographer Robert Taylor dies; helped start polar bear tours

WINNIPEG - A Manitoban whose images of polar bears, musk ox, beluga whales, great grey owls and prairie bison made him one of North America's foremost wildlife photographers has died.

Robert Taylor, who was 73, died of cancer Thursday at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.

Taylor was part of a small group that helped start polar bear tourism in northern Manitoba.

He captured some of the first close-up polar bear pictures along the Hudson Bay coastline and worked with local entrepreneurs to develop tundra buggy tours near Churchill.

His images have appeared in many national and international magazines, including Equinox, International Wildlife, Life and Canadian Geographic

He published several books on the Manitoba landscape, the area around Hudson Bay and the great grey owl — an animal that, along with polar bears, became a life-long obsession.

For 30 years, he also led shutterbugs on tours of Canada’s far North, South America, the United States and Africa.

Taylor's career spanned decades. He opened a photography shop in downtown Winnipeg, formed a publishing house and eventually branched out to wild places beyond the shores of Hudson Bay.

He visited Point Pelee National Park in Ontario for 51 consecutive springs to photograph migrating songbirds.

His tours for avid photographers took him as far away as Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Tobago, Kenya and Tanzania.

Photography garnered him an impressive list of accolades. He is one of the few photographers to be accepted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Taylor's artistic bent also expressed itself in painting and bird carving.

His love affair with the outdoors stemmed from childhood adventures with buddies roaming green spaces outside Toronto and later in around Scarborough, Ont.