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Tom Thomson and Emily Carr were artists whose names are often associated with the Group of Seven but were in fact not actual members. 

TOM THOMSON              


Thomas John "Tom" Thomson, 1877 – 1917, was an influential Canadian artist of the early 20th century. He is the most famous Group of Seven painter, which is ironic as he was not actually in the group. He had great influence over the group of Canadian painters, which would come to be known as the Group of Seven, before they formed the group when they were painting together and sharing philosophies. Tom Thomson died under mysterious circumstances before the Group of Seven were formally created.

Thomas John "Tom" Thomson was born near Claremont, Ontario to John and Margaret Thomson and grew up in Leith, Ontario, near Owen Sound. In 1899, he volunteered to fight in the Second Boer War, but was turned down because of a medical condition.  He served as a fire ranger in Algonquin Park during this time. 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's Autumn Foliage 

Thomson often traveled around Ontario 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 artists who would go on to form the Group of Seven after his death, at Rous and Mann Press, but left the following year to work as a full-time artist.  He first exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists in 1913, and became a member the following year. He would continue to exhibit with the Ontario Society until his death. In 1914 the National Gallery of Canada began acquiring his paintings, which signaled a turning point in Thomson's career.  For several years he shared a studio and living quarters with fellow artists. 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. During the next three years, he produced many of his most famous works, including The Jack Pine, The West Wind and The Northern River. Thomson disappeared during a canoeing trip on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 8, 1917, and his body was discovered in the lake eight days later.

 Tom Thomson's Northern Lights

Almost 100 years have passed since Tom Thomson’s death and almost as many conspiracy theories of murder or suicide abound.  There have been lengthy books, newspaper articles, movies and TV shows full of theories. In an essay entitled, "The Many Deaths of Tom Thomson," published in 2011, Gregory Klages describes how testimony and theories regarding Thomson's death have evolved since 1917.  Assessing the secondary accounts against the primary evidence, Klages concludes that Thomson's death is consistent with the official assessment of 'accidental drowning'. For more Information google Tom Thomson, Check out the biographies at the end of this article or refer to: http://www.canadianmysteries.ca/sites/thomson/home/indexen.html

Since his death, Thomson's work has grown in value and popularity. In 2002, the National Gallery of Canada staged a major exhibition of his work, giving Thomson the same level of prominence afforded Picasso, Renoir, and the Group of Seven in previous years. In recent decades, the increased value of Thomson's work has led to the discovery of numerous forgeries of his work on the market.

Tom Thomson's Winter Morning

For more reading:

1.) Wikipedia

2.) Tom Thomson: Artist of the North, 2011 by Wayne Larsen

3.) The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, 2011 by David Silcox


Emily Carr                     

Emily Carr, 1871 – 1945, was a Canadian artist and writer heavily inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a Modernist and Post-Impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until late in her life. As she matured, the subject matter of her painting shifted from aboriginal themes to landscapes—forest scenes in particular. As a writer, Carr was one of the earliest chroniclers of life in British Columbia.  

Emily Carr's Winds of Heaven

Emily Carr was born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1871.  Emily was the second-youngest of nine children born to English parents.  The Carr children were raised on English tradition.  They lived on Vancouver Island, a colony of Great Britain.  Carr's father encouraged her artistic inclinations.

In 1898 Carr made the first of several sketching and painting trips to aboriginal villages, visiting Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island, home to the Nuu-chah-nulth people, then commonly known to English speaking people as 'Nootka'. After her parents deaths Carr attended the San Francisco Art Institute for two years (1890–1892) before returning to Victoria. In 1899 Carr travelled to London where she studied at the Westminster School of Art. She travelled also to a rural art colony in St Ives, Cornwall, returning to British Columbia in 1905.

Determined to further her knowledge of the age's evolving artistic trends, in 1910 Carr returned to Europe to study at the Académie Colarossi in Paris. In Montparnasse with her sister Alice, Emily Carr met modernist painter Harry Gibb. Upon viewing his work, she and her sister were shocked and intrigued by his use of distortion and vibrant color: "Mr. Gibb's landscapes and still life delighted me — brilliant, luscious, clean. Against the distortion of his nudes I felt revolt." Carr's study with Gibbs and his techniques shaped and influenced her style of painting, and she adopted a vibrant color palette rather than continuing with the pastel colors of her earlier British training. Carr was greatly influenced by the post-impressionists and the Fauvists she met and studied with in France.

Emily Carr's kispiax-village British Columbia

In the summer of 1912, Carr again traveled north, to Haida Gwaii and the Skeena River, where she documented the art of the Haida, Gitxsan and Tsimshian. At Cumshewa, a Haida village on Moresby Island.  Carr painted a carved raven that she later turned into her iconic painting Big Raven. Tanoo, another painting inspired by work gathered on this trip, depicts three totems before house fronts at the village of the same name.

During the next 15 years, Carr did little painting but ran a boarding house known as the 'House of All Sorts'. Overtime Carr's work came to the attention of several influential and supportive people, including Marius Barbeau, a prominent ethnologist at the National Museum in Ottawa. Barbeau in turn persuaded Eric Brown, Director of Canada's National Gallery to visit Carr in 1927, and Brown invited Carr to exhibit her work as part of an exhibition on West Coast aboriginal art at the National Gallery. Montreal.

It was at the exhibition on West Coast aboriginal art at the National Gallery in 1927 that Carr first met members of the Group of Seven, at that time Canada's most recognized modern painters. Lawren Harris of the Group became a particularly important support: "You are one of us," he told Carr, welcoming her into the ranks of Canada's leading modernists. The encounter ended the artistic isolation of Carr's previous 15 years leading to one of the most prolific periods, and the creation of many of her most recognizable works. Through her extensive correspondence with Harris, Carr also became aware of and studied northern European symbolism. The Group influenced Carr's direction, and Lawren Harris in particular, not only by his work, but also by his belief in Theosophy, which Carr struggled to reconcile with her own conception of God.

Emily Carr's The Raven

Carr is remembered primarily for her painting. She was one of the first artists to attempt to capture the spirit of Canada in a modern style. Previously, Canadian painting had been mostly portraits and representational landscapes. Carr's main themes in her mature work were natives and nature.

For more information see:

1.) Wikipedia

2.) Emily Carr: A Biography, 2007 by Maria Tippett

3.) Emily Carr: At the Edge of the World, 2003 by Jo Ellen Bogart and Maxwell Newhouse