Group of Seven Discovery Route: Algonquin Provincial Park and Huntsville
Connect the art on the walls to the landscapes, vistas and waterways that fascinated the artists of the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson.
Algonquin Provincial Park and area is known as “Tom Thomson” country. Although he died in mysterious circumstances in 1917, before the Group was officially formed, his influence on the Group of Seven was profound. Arthur Lismer captured Thomson’s essence in his sketch Tom Thomson at Grip c. 1912 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Tom Thomson wasn’t the only artist who loved Algonquin Park. The waterways and tree lined shorelines inspired Harris, MacDonald, Jackson and Lismer who also completed sketches and full finished paintings of the park.
There are several ways to experience the landscapes and art of the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson between Huntsville and into Algonquin Park along Highway 60.
Prior to travel, please contact the individual galleries and businesses to ensure you have the most up-to-date opening dates, times and other pertinent information due to COVID-19. Stay safe and healthy.
Key Stops, Attractions and Landscapes (Huntsville and area)
1. Bronze Statue Sculpture of Tom Thomson, 37 Main Street East, Huntsville
What better way to begin your tour than with a selfie at the bronze statue of Tom Thomson outside the box office of the Algonquin Theatre in the Civic Square in Huntsville. Created by local sculptor Brenda Wainman-Goulet, it embodies the town’s motto ‘touch the past, embrace the future’.
Connect to the canvas: take in Moonlight, Algonquin Park, c. 1915 by Thomson on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
2. Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery, throughout Muskoka
Just under 100 hand-painted murals on exterior walls of public building make up this unique outdoor mural trail that stretches from Huntsville to Lake of Bays and throughout the Algonquin Park region. Choose from guided and self-guided tours.
Connect to the canvas: view Thomson’s Sunset Sky, c. 1915, in The National Gallery’s Canada and Indigenous Art Gallery.
3. Art-inspired experiences and exhibit at Deerhurst Resort, 1235 Deerhurst Drive, Huntsville
Themed getaways included guided Group of Seven mural tours or painting and photography workshops. Eclipse Gallery located in the resort represents distinct art from the Muskoka area.
4. Algonquin Adventure Tours, 1023 Cooper Lake Road, Dwight and Algonquin Provincial Park
Set out on a three hour VIP Algonquin Park motorized canoe trip following Tom Thomson’s route to historic Canoe Lake. The guided tour is perfect for photography or sketching along the way.
Connect to the canvas: Canoe Lake also inspired Arthur Lismer. View his sketch Algonquin Park, Canoe Lake, c. 1914 at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia.
5. Group of Seven Outdoor Exhibit, Oxtongue Lake
Located at the western edge of the Oxtongue Lake bridge near Algonquin Outfitters Road, you’ll find a plaque that places you where A.J. Casson stood as he painted Early September, Oxtongue Lake in 1969.
6. Ragged Falls, 1050 Oxtongue Lake Road, Dwight, Oxtongue River Provincial Park
The river and falls inspired numerous works by Tom Thomson and A.J. Casson, captured from land and from water. Take in the falls, enjoy a picnic or day-trip by canoe or kayak with Algonquin Outfitters.
Key Stops, Attractions and Landscapes (Algonquin Provincial Park)
Explore the land and waterways that inspired backpacking adventures and breathtaking paintings by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.
The Algonquin Park Visitor Centre features exhibits, a bookstore, theatre and an impressive viewing deck with a breath-taking panorama of the wild Algonquin landscape.
Book a half or full day canoe trip at The Portage Store. Guides will highlight Tom Thomson info and points of interest as you paddle the same waters he traversed. Catch The Spirit of the Group of Seven exhibit at the Algonquin Art Centre.
Connect to the canvas: experience A.Y. Jackson’s Autumn, Algonquin Park, c. 1914 at the Art Gallery of Ontario and MacDonald’s Snow, Algonquin Park, c. 1914 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
After exploring the park by day, turn in for a night at Bartlett Lodge, located within the park at Cache Lake. The Tom Thomson Discovery Package includes meals, accommodation, a guided canoe tour and tickets to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg or the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
Connect to the canvas: the sunset over the dock would likely be similar to Harris’ Algonquin Park Sunburst, 1912, oil on board 203 x 23.5 cm McMichael Canadian Art Collection
8. Algonquin Island Retreat at Voyageur Quest, South River
Once home to Algonquin Park Ranger Tom Wattie from 1900-1931, this private island cottage retreat was visited frequently by Wattie’s friend and companion Park Ranger Tom Thomson, who completed sketches and paintings while on this island. Book your stay and discover your inner artist.
Tips and Resources
- Fall is a busy time in Algonquin Provincial Park with foliage colour tours, late August wolf howls and other events. Spring and summer are less crowded, while winter opens a whole new view.
- Unravel the mystery of Tom Thomson’s death on Canoe Lake with George A. Walkers’ The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson or John Little’s Who Killed Tom Thomson?
- Watch The Explorers: Paddle the Painted Landscapes as Gary and Joanie McGuffin canoe through the Barron Canyon, to catch a glimpse of landscapes in the backcountry that inspired the work of the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson and contemporary artists.
- Parkbus provides day and overnight trips to and from Toronto and Ottawa, Algonquin Park, Killarney Park, Georgian Bay and Tobermory.
- Some of these stops are seasonal, book ahead and double check operating hours and dates to avoid disappointment.