Gallery to Landscapes Discovery Route: The Greater Toronto Area

The Group of Seven came together to form their famous collective in the Toronto area, and for six of the original seven, this is where their lives ended.

They worked here as graphic artists by day and landscape painters by night, completing paintings they captured during their travels in studios.

Discover two major galleries in the region; the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, which will provide you with an incredible opportunity to connect the art on the walls by the Group of Seven with the landscapes and cityscapes that inspired them.

Prior to travel, please contact the individual galleries and businesses to ensure you have the most up-to-date opening dates, times and other pertinent information due to COVID-19. Stay safe and healthy.

Art Gallery of Ontario

KEY STOPS, ATTRACTIONS AND LANDSCAPES

  1. Lawren Harris Park, 145 Rosedale Valley Road, Toronto

The small park on the sound side of Rosedale Valley Road features a plaque that displays one of Lawren Harris’ works and a short bio.

Connect to the canvas: although renowned for their depictions of the remote Canadian wilderness, members of the Group of Seven also sketched and painted outdoor urban scenes, such as Lawren Harris’ Early Houses, c. 1913 McMichael Canadian Art Collection and MacDonald’s Humber River at Baby Point, c. 1910 Art Gallery of Ontario.

  1. The Studio Building, 25 Severn St, Toronto

Located next to Lawren Harris Park, this National Historic Site was home and working studio for several of the Group of Seven for just $22 per month!

Connect to the canvas: the artists still found nature within bustling urban locations, as demonstrated in Arthur Lismer’s Our Garden, Bedford Park Ave. Toronto, c. 1922-1923, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and J.E.H. MacDonald’s Thornhill-Pine Tree and Fields, c. 1924, Ottawa Art Gallery.

  1. Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, 14 Elm Street, Toronto

During their time working as graphic artists at Grip Ltd., the Group of Seven met frequently in the ‘Great Hall’ for lunch at this heritage building near Young and Dundas Square.

Connect to the canvas: another example of commissioned works in Toronto is Arthur Lismer’s largescale mural Explorers and Builders of Canada, c. 1927-1932, housed inside Humberside Collegiate in Etobicoke.

  1. Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Formerly the Art Gallery of Toronto, this is the site of the first ever exhibit as a Group in 1920. The Canadian Collection features numerous works of art the Group of Seven created while exploring Toronto and beyond. Find unique Group of Seven gifts, books and souvenirs in the gift shop.

Connect to the canvas: Look: Forward, is an exciting reinstallation of the AGO’s permanent collections, and includes Tom Thomson’s Spring, Canoe Lake c. 1916, A.Y. Jackson’s Georgian Bay, Summer Clouds c. 1913.

  1. Ontario College of Art & Design University, 100 McCaul Street, Toronto

Most of the Group of Seven members were students, instructor or staff when this university was known as the Ontario College of Art. Today, the modernist addition to the original historic building is called the A.J. Casson Wing.

  1. EY Tower (formally the Concourse Building), 100 Adelaide Street West, Toronto

In the heart of downtown Toronto, a colourful mosaic created by J.E.H. MacDonald in 1928 greets visitors at the entrance to the building.

  1. St. Anne’s Anglican Church, 270 Gladstone Ave., Toronto

MacDonald, Varley and Carmichael were commissioned to paint murals in St. Anne’s Anglican Church in 1923, a National Historic Site just north of Dundas Street West. These are the only known religious works by the group. One-hour guided tours are available on the first Sunday of each month.

  1. Group of Seven Bike Trail, Vaughan to Kleinburg

Cycle the bike trail from the north end of Toronto roughly 72 kilometrs to Kleinburg, home of the world-renowned McMichael Canadian Art Collection of iconic Group of Seven paintings.

Connect to the canvas: see if you can determine where A.J. Casson’s painting entitled Kleinburg c. 1929 (on display at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection) took inspiration from during the scenic ride.

  1. McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 10365 Islington Ave, Kleinburg

Home to a significant collection of works by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, their contemporaries and Indigenous Peoples, this gallery is an integral page in the Group of Seven narrative. Learn about the artists, their inspirations and the profound mark they’ve left on the landscape of Canadian art.

The current display, “A Like Vision” The Group of Seven at 100, January 25, 2020 – Spring 2021 commemorates the centenary of their first exhibition.

Browse and buy Group of Seven merch in the Gallery Shop and visit the Thomson Shack, a reconstructed version of the original, that was located next to the Group of Seven studio in Toronto.

An interpretive installation leads to the Group of Seven Artist Cemetery. Initially conceptualized by Jackson and Casson in 1967, this cemetery is the final resting place for six of the seven members and their spouses. Slabs of granite blasted from northern road construction were transported to the cemetery so that the Group of Seven members would always have a piece of the north with them on their journey. A cairn and tombstone memorializing Tom Thomson can be found in Leith, Ontario and within Algonquin Park.

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Tips and Resources

  • Parkbus provides day and overnight trips to and from Toronto and Ottawa, Algonquin Park, Killarney Park, Georgian Bay and Tobermory.
  • Some of these stops are seasonal, book ahead and double check operating hours and dates to avoid disappointment.

Top image Location: Toronto’s Discovery District, 80 Gerrard St East
Painting credit: Lawren S. Harris (1885-1970), Houses, Gerrard Street, Toronto (detail) 1912, gift of Donbarn Investments Limited, McMichael Canadian Art Collection