Artworks and Artists
Tom Thomson
Born in Claremont, Ontario, 04 August 1877
Died in Canoe Lake, Ontario, 1917
Collection of the Library and Archives, National Gallery of Canada

Tom Thomson

Although Tom Thomson was not an official member of the Group of Seven because of his untimely and tragic death three years before the Group was formed, he was nevertheless an important influence on the artists. It was Thomson who introduced them to Algonquin Park, leading them on sketching trips and sharing with them his enthusiasm for the untamed Canadian landscape. With little formal training, he worked intuitively, choosing bold colours and creating dynamic compositions to convey his response to the rugged beauty of nature. These were his legacies to the Group.

Born near Claremont, Ontario, in 1877, Thomson was raised on a farm near Owen Sound. In his early twenties, he tried his hand at a variety of jobs before moving to Seattle, where he worked as a designer in a photoengraving company while sketching and fishing in his spare time. He returned to Canada in 1905, and in 1908 found a job at Grip Limited, one of Toronto's leading design firms. There he met J.E.H. MacDonald as well as other artists who enjoyed weekend sketching excursions. By 1912 Thomson had abandoned commercial art to devote his time fully to painting, supporting himself by working as a guide and fire ranger in Algonquin Park. His promising career ended with his mysterious death by drowning in 1917, a loss felt severely by all the members of the Group.