Instructor Resources

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson:
Study Guide

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Introduction

Welcome to the Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson Study Guide. Before we begin, remember that you can download the full study guide in the Materials section below, or at any time in the sidebar to the right.

Book cover of The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson by George A. Walker

Take a look at the cover design of The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson. At a glance the image may appear to be rough-hewn, but consider that wood engraving is a predominantly 19th-century printmaking technique that requires the artist to create images with a burin manipulated on the end-grain of polished blocks of hardwood, in this case, maple. This is not, particularly, easy to accomplish.

Tom is smoking a pipe, and holding a coffee in his hand. He is wearing a toque, and suspenders, maybe. He appears to be smiling, and he is outdoors, close to a lake. Would any of your students be able to identify the tree on the left as a Jack-pine? Have any of your students ever been to Algonquin Park? or, specifically, to Canoe Lake? Can we assume that Tom is often happy to be outdoors, in the bush? Is there some other detail in the image that I have missed?

In tackling these questions, your students will be exercising their visual literacy, a form of comprehension that has a direct effect on understanding and interpreting the images, videos and texts of students’ daily lives.

Further Reading:

Consult George A. Walker’s preface to The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson for the artist’s perspective on digital literacy, the art of wood engraving, the structure of the narrative, and the mystery at the centre of the book.

(Download in the Materials section below.)

Exercises

Sample Image 1: Central Ontario School of Art and Design

Question 1

Tom may have enrolled in evening classes at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design in Toronto.

What is there in this image that suggests an evening setting?


Sample Image 2: Toronto streetscape

Question 2

This image is based on the architecture of a recognizable street in downtown Toronto.

What is it?

(The building at the top left, in particular, still exists and should help to identify the street name.)


Materials

guide full download

Download the Full The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson Study Guide
16.7 MB

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preface download

Preface to The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson by George A. Walker
34 KB

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sample image 1 download

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson Sample Image #1
331 KB

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sample image 2 download

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson Sample Image #2
314 KB

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This Study Guide is available as a free download in Pdf format to anyone interested in using it as an aid to teaching George A. Walker's The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson (2012). The Guide may not be copied and offered for sale by any third party. This Study Guide is produced with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation and the Ontario Ministry of Education.

funding logos

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.