Guest blog by Evan Holt
If you’re curious about Canadian art, you should learn more about the uniquely “Canadian” artist who inspired the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson.
“Thomson’s paintings are the visual equivalent of a national anthem.” David Silcox, Art Historian and Writer
This self-taught artist both painted and drew in the early 1900’s, and to add to his mystique, had a mysterious death in 1917 on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. His legacy lives on through his artistic work and you can experience it yourself by exploring Algonquin Park, Huntsville and various art exhibitions.
Tom grew up in Leith, Ontario, which is near Owen Sound and despite traveling around Ontario (and even to Seattle for a while), he seemed to have a true appreciation for Algonquin Park. He spent much of his time painting there. The guided Tom Thomson Experience with Treks in the Wild offers visitors a first hand look at these sites using Tom’s favourite way to the travel.- a canoe. You will also visit his memorial on Canoe Lake.
Be sure to visit the Tom Thomson display at the Algonquin Provincial Park Visitor Centre.
You can hike the Jack Pine Trail (1.6k) which takes you to the scenic point where one of his most famous paintings, The Jack Pine, was created. This a great spot for photography, or maybe you will be inspired to dabble on a painting of your own.
Left: The Jack Pine Mural in Huntsville. Right: A tribute to Tom Thomson in Huntsville
From 2012 to 2017, the Town of Huntsville is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Tom Thomson’s life and death. Visit the Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery, featuring a stunning collection of over 90 world-class murals celebrating the artwork of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.
If you’re looking to dig a little deeper into Tom’s work and would like to see more of his paintings and personal belongings, pay a visit to the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound. There are quite a lot of neat works that have been donated by family members over the years. For example, when the area was once a booming transportation centre, and Tom was commissioned to create a stamp series, which is one of the artifacts on display.
While most of his larger art works are on display at the larger art galleries such as the McMichael in Kleinburg, there are quite a number of the smaller oil on panel works. It is nice to get up close with his drawings, watercolour and oil paintings to see the intricacies.
Tom Thomson oil painting up close
While in the area, it is worth while visiting Leith (about 30 minutes North West of Owen Sound), where you can see Tom Thomson’s grave and an Ontario Historical Plaque.