Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson

Day Dreaming
oil on panel, ca.1915
7.5 x 11.5 in


Tom Thomson was born near Claremont, Ontario to John and Margaret Thomson and grew up in Rose Hill, Ontario, near Owen Sound.[1] In 1899, he entered a machine shop apprenticeship at an iron foundry owned by William Kennedy, a close friend of his father. He was fired from his apprenticeship by a foreman who complained of Thomson’s habitual tardiness. Also in 1899 he volunteered to fight in the Second Boer War, but was turned down because of a medical condition. Tom Thomson was reputed to have been refused entry into the Canadian Expeditionary Force for service in the First World War also. He served as a fire ranger in Algonquin Park during this time.[2] In 1901, he enrolled in a business college in Chatham, Ontario but dropped out eight months later to join his older brother, George Thomson, who was operating a business school in Seattle. There he met and had a brief summer romance with Alice Elinor Lambert. In 1904, he returned to Canada, and may have studied with William Cruikshank, 1905 1906.[2] In 1907 Thomson joined Grip Ltd., an artistic design firm in Toronto, where many of the future members of the Group of Seven also worked.

Tom Thomson first visited Algonquin Park in 1912. Thereafter he often traveled around Canada with his colleagues, especially to the wilderness of Ontario, which was to be a major source of inspiration for him. In 1912 he began working, along with other members of the Group of Seven, at Rous and Mann Press, but left the following year to work as an full-time artist. He first exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists in 1913, and became a member in 1914 when the National Gallery of Canada purchased one of his paintings. He would continue to exhibit with the Ontario Society until his death. For several years he shared a studio and living quarters with fellow artists, before taking up residence on Canoe Lake. Beginning in 1914 he worked intermittently as a fire fighter, ranger, and guide in Algonquin Park, but found that such work did not allow enough time for painting.[3] During the next three years he produced many of his most famous works, including The Jack Pine, The West Wind and The Northern River.

Private Collection, Toronto

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