Northern Ontario, Canada

Canada's Group of Seven: Painting Algoma

Waterfalls along the Agawa River Waterfalls along the Agawa River James Smedley

The Legacy of Canada's Group of Seven

Algoma has a reputation for being an inspiration to both artists and photographers since the first visit by Canada’s Group of Seven. Canada was once considered “unworthy” of being painted but the landscape paintings pioneered by the Group led to a new wave of Canadian art that helped to encourage and inspire how we and the rest of the world view Canada’s natural beauty. From the North Shore of Lake Huron, up the coast of Lake Superior and to the true wilderness that is Algoma, the Group of Seven painted areas that are uniquely Canadian.

Whether you bring your easel and paints, sketch book, or your camera, you will be inspired by the landscape that surrounds you. From crystal clear lakes and rivers, towering cascading waterfalls, beautiful sunsets that light up the evening sky, or spotting wildlife in natural settings, Algoma is waiting for you.

Algoma LakeSuperior 4069North Shore of Lake Superior - Rob Stimpson

Lake Superior, the greatest of the Great Lakes

The drive from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa along Trans Canada Highway 17 is one of the Top Ten Drives in Canada. The highway hugs the coastline of Lake Superior, the place of which many of the Group of Seven's iconic paintings is the subject, including scenes of Sand Lake and the Agawa River, and Pic Island to just name a few. There are many scenic lookouts to stop at like the Alona Bay Lookout and the Agawa Bay Lookout, and picnic areas in Lake Superior Provincial Park like Katherine Cove and Old Woman Bay. Lake Superior Provincial Park has an extensive hiking trail system with trails that lead to mountain top views of scenic, rugged coastline, cascading waterfalls and lookouts. You'll find many places to sketch or photograph.

Other Provincial Parks on Lake Superior: Batchawana Bay, Pancake Bay

alona-bayAlona bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park.

The Agawa Canyon

Hop aboard the Algoma Central Railway and journey to the Famous Agawa Canyon just like the Group of Seven almost one hundred years ago. In 1919, members of the Group of Seven: Lawren Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, Frank Johnston and A.Y. Jackson took a box car trip on the Algoma Central Railway.

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is a one day rail excursion that takes passengers through breathtaking, remote wilderness, over the rugged Canadian Shield landscape. As the train journeys 114 miles to the Agawa Wilderness Park, you'll have views of Lake Superior and the Montreal River trestle. The Agawa Wilderness Park includes five short nature trails that lead to cascading waterfalls and the 372-step climb to the Lookout observation platform, located on the wall of the gorge. The platform provides a panoramic view of the untamed wilderness.

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train runs from June to September, and the fall colour train runs from September to mid-October.

 agawacanyontourtrainAgawa Canyon Tour Train. Photo credit James Smedley Outdoors.

Wawa, Michipicoten

Many members of the Group of Seven returned year after to Algoma, often staying in cabins located along the Algoma Central Railway line. Another place that saw members of the Group was the town of Wawa. For example, when he visited Wawa, A.Y. Jackson would often stay at Sandy Beach on Lake Superior in Michipicoten. He became a familiar face in the community, and could be found painting on the beach and coastline. Jackson also traveled to Pukaskwa National Park, and places close to Sault Ste. Marie like Chippewa Falls and the Goulais River.

Recommended Touring Route:The Grand Algoma

Find out where to stay in Wawa at the website

sandybeach storytellingpavilion wawaThe Story Telling Pavilion at Sandy Beach, Wawa.

Algoma Highlands from atop King Mountain

robertson cliffs algoma highlandsRobertson Cliffs in the Algoma Highlands

The Algoma Highlands is wild, natural, and dominated by King Mountain which towers 1,300 feet above the elevation of Lake Superior. Artists and photographers are captivated by the scenes and viewscapes that have intrigued and inspired generations of those before them, including Canada's Group of Seven. This is a place that can be enjoyed during all four seasons: the deep greens of summer; the forests ablaze in fiery reds, golden yellows and bright orange; the quiet of winter under a blanket of fresh new fallen snow, and the blossoming in spring.

Silent sports are enjoyed here: hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and biking. It is a mecca for photography, bird watching, and painting. For more information visit

The Art Gallery of Algoma

Located on Sault Ste. Marie's waterfront, the Art Gallery of Algoma houses a permanent collection of works that focus on Canadian and regional contemporary art, including works by members of the Group of Seven: Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson, A.Y. Jackson, J.E.H MacDonald, and F.H. Varley. Visitors can take a guided, interactive tour of the current exhibitions. Book a guided tour and lunch: you'll spend an afternoon at the Art Gallery on a guided tour and be served a catered lunch following the tour.

For more information about the Art Gallery of Algoma visit

To plan your vacation in Algoma Country order a free copy of our travel guide at or phone toll free 1-800-263-2546.

Heather Bot

I'm a staff writer for Algoma Country and I hope my articles entice you to plan your next wilderness vacation in Algoma. Our beautiful area has everything you need for a true outdoor adventure: fishing, hunting, touring and the great outdoors. Fly-in, train-in, drive-in -- half the fun is getting here!!


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