10 Interesting Facts About the Group of Seven

A Group of Seven moment captured on camera by photographer James Smedley.

The Group of Seven is Canada’s greatest art collective. Together, they changed the art world in Canada forever. This group rode the rails into the deep recesses of the Algoma wilderness to escape not just the hustle and bustle of Toronto, but to immerse themselves into our landscapes that brought them peace and a sense of tranquility. With the death of their friend Tom Thomson and the horrors of World War I, our healing landscapes brought them here again and again. 

There are many stories of the Group of Seven in Algoma and the North Shore of Lake Superior, but here are 10 interesting facts about members of the Group that might surprise you!

1. The first trips to Algoma were in May and September of 1918, when members of the Group first painted along the rail line.

2. Members of the Group used handcarts to travel up and down the rail line to access painting sites.

Not sure what a handcart is? The Agawa Bay Visitor Centre at Lake Superior Provincial Park has one on display. (Photo credit: Algoma Country)

3. A.Y. Jackson returned to Michipicoten Bay and area often between 1955 and 1961 where he shared ownership of a cottage. The cottage still stands today in Wawa, although located on private property.

4. A.Y. Jackson painted a headstone in the Garden River Cemetery and no one knows why. It’s a mystery!

5. Not all members of the Group painted in Algoma; Frederick Varley never painted here, but his grandson travels here every summer to hike in Lake Superior Provincial Park!

6. Lawren Harris wrote poetry during the years he was in Algoma.

7. Dr. Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin, was a member of Toronto's Arts and Letters Club, where he befriended members of the Group of Seven A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris.

8. There are over 400 discovered sites painted by the Group of Seven in Algoma. Seven years ago, Michael Burtch, and Joanie and Gary McGuffin set out into our region’s vast wilderness to search for sites that the Group painted. Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven is a documentary film that tells the story of members’ time spent in the region, and the modern-day sleuths tracking down the precise painting locations.

9. In 1995, Canada Post issued 10 stamps each based on a painting by each member of the group; 3 of those stamps were paintings from Algoma: J.E.H. MacDonald’s Falls, Montreal River, Franklin Carmichael’s October Gold and Lawren Harris’ North of Lake Superior.

10. In 2009, an oil sketch by Harris titled The Old Stump, Lake Superior sold for $3.5 million, the second highest price ever paid for a painting in Canada at the time. Read The Star article.

Find Screenings of Painted Land Near You

Where to Buy a Copy of Painted Land:

Art Gallery of Algoma Gift Shop
10 East Street, Sault Ste. Marie, ON 
PH: 705-949-9067

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