Drawn to the North: Algonquin

DSCN0668Last month, on a long-awaited return visit to Canada, I had the privilege of staying on a small island in Northern Ontario, with links to Canada’s most influential painter.

Originally a home for the park ranger “Wattie”, this island lies in Lake Kawawaymog, on the edge of Algonquin, part of Canada’s early, bold experiment in preserving its wilderness.

This island also hosted a great friend of Wattie’s – Tom Thomson, who inspired the famous ‘Group of Seven’ painters, who gave Canada a powerful voice for her landscape and culture. Tom stayed with him on the island many times and painted three of his small works there.

Tom Thomson (1877-1917) The Tent  1915 Oil on wood panel, 21.5 x 26.8 cm Purchase 1979 McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Tom Thomson (1877-1917)
The Tent 1915
Oil on wood panel, 21.5 x 26.8 cm
Purchase 1979
McMichael Canadian Art Collection

DSCN1017Tom’s Toronto studio, transplanted to the grounds of the McMichael Collection of Canadian Art in Kleinburg, above and below.

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Tom Thomson "Spring Ice", 1916. Collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
Tom Thomson “Spring Ice”, 1916. Collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
Tom Thomson, "West Wind" 1916. Collection of The Art Gallery of Ontario.
Tom Thomson, “West Wind” 1916. Collection of The Art Gallery of Ontario.

As a painter myself, born and raised in Canada, the island resonated with me on so many levels. Separated from the mainland by wave and wind, I felt a deep connection with the Algonquin landscape.

It was a dream fulfilled, to spend days watching, listening, as the sky, land and water reverberated all ’round, pulsating with the raw energy of these pristine and untamed, northern shores.

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DSCN1013Here is a short film I made to show some of what I met there and how Canada sang to me:

2 thoughts on “Drawn to the North: Algonquin

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