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The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson:
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Glossary of People & Places

Algonquin Park
The oldest provincial park in Canada, established in 1893, and one of the largest parks (almost 3,000 square miles) in Ontario. Tom Thomson first visited Algonquin in the spring of 1912, and died there on July 8, 1917.
Art Gallery of Toronto
Site of the first Group of Seven exhibition in 1920. Now known as the Art Gallery of Ontario (ago).
Arts & Letters Club
Established in 1908, moved to its present location at 14 Elm Street in 1920.
Beatty, John W
Artist who assisted J.E.H. MacDonald in erecting a memorial cairn to Tom Thomson at Hayhurst Point on Canoe Lake in September, 1917.
Belaney, Archie
Later known as Grey Owl; ranger working in Mississagi Forest Reserve who met Thomson in 1912.
Bickersteth, J. Burgon
Warden of Hart House at the University of Toronto. An early supporter of the Group of Seven.
Blecher [Belcher], Bessie
Martin Blecher’s sister. The Blechers found Tom’s canoe overturned off Little Wapomeo Island on the afternoon of July 8th, 1917 and towed it to Mowat Lodge.
Blecher [Belcher] Jr, Martin
Brother of Bessie. Possibly romantically involved with Winnifred Trainor. Later moved to St Louis under suspicion of being a German spy.
Blecher [Belcher] Sr, Martin
Father of Bessie and Martin, American-German cottagers at Canoe Lake, though the family owned a furniture company in Buffalo, New York. Martin Sr read the Anglican funeral service at Tom’s interment.
Briggs, Mrs Arthur
Daughter of Shannon and Annie Fraser, proprietors of Mowat Lodge.
Broadhead, William
Commercial artist at Grip Ltd. who canoed with Thomson in Mississagi Forest Reserve (west of Sudbury) in August and September of 1912.
Brodie, Dr William
A noted naturalist, and distant relation of Tom, who fostered Tom’s love of nature while walking in the ravines of Toronto.
Brown, Eric
(1877–1939) First Director of the National Gallery of Canada. An early institutional supporter of artists associated with the Group of Seven.
Byng Inlet, Georgian Bay
1914–15. Painting by Tom Thomson. Byng Inlet is north of Parry Sound and south of Sudbury, on the east shore of Georgian Bay.
Callighen, Harry (Bud)
Ranger at Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park who met Thomson in 1912.
Canadian Group of Painters, The
Collective of 28 painters from across Canada who came together as a group in 1933 after the Group of Seven had disbanded. Included members of the Beaver Hall Group who had a history of exhibiting with the Group of Seven internationally. The Canadian Group, which eventually included many of Canada’s leading artists, held its first exhibition in 1933, and continued to hold exhibitions almost every year until 1967.
Canoe Lake
Railway Station on the Grand Trunk (formerly the Canada Atlantic) mainline east from Parry Sound to Ottawa; located two miles north of Mowat Lodge and a bit west of Ed Coulson’s Algonquin Hotel.
Carmichael, Franklin
(1890–1945) Canadian artist, born in Orillia, who was the youngest original member of the Group of Seven
Carr, Emily
(1871–1945) Canadian artist, born in Victoria, who was closely associated with the Group of Seven, though she was never an offcial member.
Casson, A
J. (1898–1992) Canadian artist, born in Toronto, who was invited to join the Group of Seven in 1926. Buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg.
Cézanne, Paul
(1839–1906) French artist and post-Impressionist painter who may have influenced Tom Thomson.
A small village east of Toronto where Tom Thomson was born in 1877.
Coulson, Ed
Bought the Algonquin Hotel in 1905.
Crombie, Daphne
Guest at Mowat Lodge who may have known something significant about the romantic relationship between Tom and Winnifred Trainor, possibly involving Martin Blecher as well.
Cruikshank, William
(1848–1922) British artist who emigrated to Canada, opened a studio in Toronto in 1871 and for 25 years taught in the Central Ontario School of Art, later the Ontario College of Art.
Davies, Blodwen
Reporter, originally from Fort William (Thunder Bay), who later moved to Toronto and in 1935 wrote and self-published a biography of Tom Thomson called Paddle and Palette.
Dickson, Laurie
Local guide who recovered Tom’s body from Canoe Lake with the help of George Rowe.
Dixon, Roy
Undertaker from Sprucedale who helped prepare Tom’s body for burial.
Ebbs, Harry
Counsellor at Ahmek Camp in Algonquin Park in 1924, then later became a medical doctor.
Fairley, Barker
(1887–1986) British-Canadian painter and scholar, co-founder of Canadian Forum magazine. An early supporter of the Group of Seven.
FitzGerald, LeMoine
(1890–1956) Canadian artist, born in Winnipeg. Invited to join the Group of Seven in 1932, shortly before the Group disbanded. The only member of the Group based in Western Canada.
Fraser, Annie
Wife of Shannon, co-proprietor of Mowat Lodge. May have had a brief affair with Tom.
Fraser, Shannon
Husband of Annie, co-proprietor of Mowat Lodge. Known for his temper, particularly when drinking. Borrowed money from Tom to buy canoes for the Lodge, which may have become an issue between them, particularly if Tom was under pressure from Winnifred Trainor, possibly because she may have been pregnant.
van Gogh, Vincent
(1853–1890) Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose bold colours and dramatic, impulsive brushwork may have influenced Tom Thomson.
Go Home Bay
Location of James MacCallum’s cottage on the eastern side of Georgian Bay, due north of Midland.
Grand Trunk Railway
In 1912, when Tom first visited Algonquin Park, the easiest route would have been the Grand Trunk north from Toronto through Barrie, Orillia, Gravenhurst and Huntsville to Scotia Junction where the Grand Trunk crossed the tracks of what was once the Canada Atlantic Railway whose mainline ran east from Parry Sound through Algonquin Park to Ottawa.
Grip Ltd
Toronto design firm, founded in 1873, that later employed many of the artists who came to be known as the Group of Seven. In the early 20th century Grip was deemed to be one of the most sophisticated design firms in the country. Later known as Bomac Batten.
Group of Seven
J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston and Franklin Carmichael all met as employees of the design firm Grip Ltd. in Toronto. In 1913, they were joined by A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris. The Group formalized their professional relationship in 1919, two years after the death of Tom Thomson. The Group disbanded after the death of J.E.H. MacDonald in 1932.
Harris, Lawren
(1885–1970) Canadian painter, born in Brantford, who became known for his landscapes of the Canadian north and the Arctic. Harris was a founding member of the Group of Seven. He was also an heir to Massey-Harris Ltd., at one time the largest agricultural equipment manufacturer in the British Empire. Harris is buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg.
Hayhurst Point
A memorial cairn in memory of Tom Thomson was erected at Hayhurst Point (close to the spot where Tom’s body was found) by J.E.H. MacDonald and John Beatty in 1917.
Holgate, Edwin
(1892–1977) Canadian artist, born in Innisfil. Invited to join the Group of Seven in 1930.
Howland, Dr Goldwin
Toronto physician and professor of neurology at the University of Toronto, vacationing at Canoe Lake, who noticed Tom’s body floating in Canoe Lake
Conducted by Dr Arthur Ranney of North Bay. Attendees included Dr G.W. Howland, Miss Bessie Belcher, Mr. J.E. Colson, Prop Algonquin Hotel, Mr. J.S. Fraser, Prop Mowat Lodge, Canoe Lake, Mr Mark Robinson Park ranger, Mr Martyn Belcher, Tourist and Mr G. Rowe, Resident guide.
The Jack Pine
1916–17. One of Thomson’s most iconic paintings, and one of the last paintings he completed. Typical of the painter’s abiding interest in the prospect of the far shore.
Jackson, A.Y
(1882–1974) Canadian artist, born in Montreal. One of the founding members of the Group of Seven. Buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian ArtCollection in Kleinburg.
Johnston, Frank
(1888–1949) Prolific Canadian artist who was a founding member of the Group of Seven but who resigned from the Group in 1924. Buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg.
Lambert, Alice
Girl Tom met in Seattle who may have rejected a proposal of marriage.
Hamlet on the eastern shore of Owen Sound Bay where Tom Thomson grew up and may (or, very possibly, may not) be buried.
Lismer, Arthur
(1885–1969) Canadian artist, born in Sheffeld, England. A founding member of the Group of Seven, Arthur Lismer is primarily known for his wartime paintings of ships festooned in dazzle camouflage. Buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg.
MacCallum, James
(1860–1943) Canadian ophthalmologist and one of the most important patrons of Tom Thomson and of the Group of Seven. MacCallum owned a cottage on an island in Go Home Bay in Georgian Bay where Tom, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, and A.Y. Jackson all completed major work. There is a suggestion that MacCallum used his connections in Ottawa to prevent Tom from being accepted for military service.
MacDonald, J.E.H
(1873–1932) Canadian artist, born in Durham, England. A founding member of the Group of Seven, James was also father to the noted Canadian illustrator Thoreau MacDonald, and he was senior artist at Grip Ltd. when Tom worked there. J.E.H. MacDonald was also very involved with the Arts & Letters Club for which he designed the club crest in 1909.
MacKay, Rory
Local historian, primarily interested in nineteenth-century logging in Algonquin Park.
McLean, Tom
Designer who worked at Grip Ltd. and first suggested Tom visit Algonquin Park in 1912.
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Gallery in Kleinburg that was founded by Robert and Signe McMichael, who began collecting paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries in the 1950s. Six of the members of the Group as well as four of their wives are buried on site.
Morse Code
Mowat Lodge
The original Mowat Lodge had been built as a boarding house for Gilmour Lumber employees, before Shannon and Annie Fraser bought pieces of the property and repurposed the buildings as a vacation destination.
A Northern Lake
(1912) The first painting Tom exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists (1913). The painting was later sold to the Ontario government for the princely sum of $250 which was all the more welcome considering that Tom earned a modest $35 a week at Grip.
Northern Lights, Fall 1915
Painting by Tom Thomson. A good example of what some critics have suggested may be an ‘unpaintable subject’
Northern River
(1915) Painting by Tom Thomson. Purchased by the National Gallery in 1915 for $500.
Ottawa Art Gallery
Home of the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, which consists of more than 1,600 works of art assembled by Ottawa collectors O.J. and Isobel Firestone, who acquired the works from the early 1950s to the 1970s. The collection includes a number of paintings by the Group of Seven.
Pine Trees at Sunset
(1915) Painting by Tom Thomson.
Pittaway, Ron
Algonquin Park historian who interviewed Daphne Crombie in 1977, sixty years after she had been a guest at Mowat Lodge on the day Tom died.
Storied Toronto printing company that produced ‘The West Wind’ stamps for Canada Post.
Ranney, Dr Arthur
Coroner from North Bay who conducted the Inquest into Tom’s death.
Robinson, Mark
Algonquin Park ranger and naturalist. Possibly the last person to see Tom alive.
Round Lake, Mud Bay
Painting by Tom Thomson that was sketched in November, 1915 on or near an island in a lake in the northwest part of Algonquin Park that is now called Kawawaymog Lake
Rous & Mann
Tom Thomson and future members of the Group of Seven followed Grip’s art director, A.H. Robson, to Rous & Mann Press Ltd, which specialized in fine commercial typography and presswork. In 1919 Franklin Carmichael and A.J. Casson moved on to the first Canadian silkscreen printing firm, Sampson, Matthews Ltd, founded by artist J.E .Sampson and businessman C.A.G. Matthews.
Rowe, George
Local guide who recovered Tom’s body from Canoe Lake with Laurie Dickson
Sharpe, Dr Noble
Author of ‘The Canoe Lake Mystery’, Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal, June 1970.
Scotia Junction
Railway station where the Grand Trunk line north from Toronto to North Bay intersected the Canada Atlantic line east from Parry Sound to Ottawa
Silcox, David
Senior arts administrator and more recently president of Sotheby’s Canada for twelve years. Co-author, with Harold Town, of Tom Thomson: The Silence and the Storm (1977).
Thomson, George
(1868–1965) Tom’s eldest brother, who may have accompanied the casket by rail to Leith, though he later denied having done any such thing.
Thomson, Tom
(1877–1917) Perhaps the most influential Canadian artist of the early 20th century, who died, under peculiar circumstances, at an early age (39).
Town, Harold
(1924–1990) Canadian abstract painter best known as a member of Painters Eleven. Co-author, with David Silcox, of Tom Thomson: The Silence and the Storm.
Trainor, Winnifred
Eldest daughter of Hugh Trainor of Huntsville, who also owned a summer cottage at Canoe Lake. Winnifred was romantically involved with Tom, and may have given birth in the months after Tom’s death.
Unfinished Sketch
Painting by Tom Thomson, deemed to be the ‘first completely abstract work in Canadian art’ by Thomson biographer Harold Town
Varley, Frederick
(1881–1969) Painter who immigrated to Canada in 1912 on the advice of another Sheffeld native (and future Group of Seven member), Arthur Lismer, and found employment at Grip Ltd. in Toronto. Buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg.
Watson, Homer
(1855–1936) Canadian landscape painter, born in Doon, Ontario, who often painted scenes of the Grand River Valley; friend of Oscar Wilde. Watson’s work has been compared to that of John Constable, an English romantic of the nineteenth century.
Wattie, Tom
Ranger who met Tom at North Tea Lake in 1913.
The West Wind
1916–17. Painting by Tom Thomson, possibly unfinished, that was found on Thomson’s easel in his studio after his death.
Wieland, Joyce
(1930–1998) Canadian experimental filmmaker and mixed media artist whose 1976 film The Far Shore is based on the life of Tom Thomson.

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.

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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.

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