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Lesson #2
The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson

A Guide by Steven McCabe

Part 1: Observation and Comprehension

Figure outdoor with line of caught fish.

Consider the image above and answer the following questions in writing:

  1. What era of Canadian history might this image represent?
  2. What is hanging on the line?
  3. What do his surroundings suggest about his environment?
  4. What does his clothing say about his type of work?
  5. What sort of dwelling do you think he lives in?
  6. Is he married with children?
  7. What does he do for entertainment?
  8. What sort of tree is in the background?
  9. Does he fit in with society?
  10. If you saw him on the street in your neighbourhood what might he be carrying?
  11. Considering your answers and ideas above, write an imaginary dialogue between the figure in the image and a neighbour or a friend. Is he possibly confiding a secret? Or discussing a plan? Is it boring or intriguing?

Part 2: Analysis

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson

Consider an additional three images photocopied from The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson, then complete the following activity.

  1. Begin by captioning the images.
  2. Describe what is happening. What do you see?
  3. Describe the relevant details using adjectives, verbs and nouns.
  4. What is the mood of the images?
  5. Imagine what the image is not showing. What could be taking place out of view that is part of what is happening?

Part 3: Order and Sequencing

  1. How do these images fit in with your description of the figure? (Refer to questions 1–11 above.)
  2. Do these images describe one event or his entire life story?
  3. Create the outline of a story by combining ideas that you have suggested and described from Part 1 and Part 2 of this activity.

Part 4: Visual Assessment

After you have created the outline of your ‘alternative’ story based on images from the wordless book, consider the title and book cover.

  1. Imagine what this title signifies and what this book might be about.
  2. Discuss with the class, or your work group, what you think this book might be about and how your idea for a story might go in a new direction.

Part 5: Creativity

Use the ideas you have generated to create your own comic, graphic narrative, short story or series of poems.

NOTE: Download the ‘Building a Wordless Novel’ worksheet in the Materials section for a way to plan a story by collaborating with images in a sequence.




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



The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson Sample Image #2
1.3 MB



The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson Sample Image #3
983 KB



The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson Sample Image #4
294 KB



Building a Wordless Novel Worksheet
18 KB


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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