TJ Harkness Letter to RH Flavelle Undertaker

July 23, 1917

Dear Sir,

I have been handed your account for attending to the body of Tom Thomson and for casket and etc. as I have been appointed to look after the affairs of the estate of the deceased. I may say that I think your account is exhorbitant and I will and I will not pay it in full, but will deduct $15.00 off price of casket and $10.00 off embalming fees, and if you are not satisfied, I will pay amount of account less $25.00 into court and you may proceed to collect the balance.

I am doing this after substituting your account to competent undertakers and am allowing just double for embalming that is charged in this part and I might say that the man we got to furnish metallic lined casket to bring the body home only charged $75.00 for his work and the casket and we paid his fare to Canoe Lake. The casket you furnished is still at Canoe Lake and it may still be of some use to you. I will settle your account as soon as the necessary legal steps have been taken.

Yours truly,
T. J. Harkness

JS Fraser Letter to Dr James MacCallum

July 24, 1917
Mowat P. O., Ontario

Dear Doctor

Yours of 18 well Doctor Poor tom is gone he was in fine shape when he left me on sunday 8 of July Sunday morning he says to me i will go up with you and help me lif over a boat over the Joe Lake dam so we went up and it was raining hard and he was wet throug when we got down to the dock he said i will go down to west lake and get some of those big trought and i will be back eather to night or tomorow morning he said good by and i never seen him again he must of taking a cramp or got out on shore and slip of a log or something

the Paddles was tied up in the canoe and canoe turned over when we found him he was in a bad state so we burried him he and his brother came up and took him a way with him he was dug up and put in a sealed coffen

we missed him very mutch there will never be another tom tompson we allways look for him in the spring his brother sent his pictures to you and he took the other suff home with him i have the canoes here but they haven said what they will be worth well i wouldnt charge any thing for my trouble but i had 3 men out looking for him i had

Mr. Dickson 3 days $2.50 a day 7.50
Mr Row – – 5.00
fire ranger — Mr McDonald – – 5.00
i think that is all well will never forget Mr thomson i haven seen mr bartlett ye about tablet or the chain but i think he will let us put it up iny place i think down by the dock it would be a nice place i think I will close i am pretty bisey hope you are well

Yours truly
J S Fraser

Tom’s Paintings in the Shack

July 20, 1917

JEH MacDonald, upon hearing my death, went to the Shack behind the Studio in Toronto. He went with Dr. James MacCallum to make an account of what was left behind. Thoreau MacDonald came along too. It made an impression that stayed with him for his entire life.

Here is Jim’s account of what was left behind. They’re thinking of putting on a memorial show at the Canadian National Exhibition later in the summer.

Tom Thomson’s Body Found, Was Missing More Than A Week

The Owen Sound Sun, July 20, 1917

Still a Mystery as to How the Drowning took Place – Canoe Was Found in the Lake a Few Hours After the Artist Was Last Seen

A telegram was received on Tuesday evening stating that the body of Mr. Tom Thomson, the celebrated artist, had been recovered in Canoe Lake the evening before. It will be remembered that on Sunday, July 8th, his canoe was found several hours after he had been last seen and a telegram to that effect was sent to his parents here. The fact that two paddles were found strapped into the canoe gave the impression that it might have drifted from shore and that possibly Mr. Thomson was marooned on one of the islands. Another alternative was that he might have gone into the woods sketching, but the finding of the body clears up all the uncertainties.

The artist was drowned in Algonquin Park, the scene of so much inspiration to the painter and where he has spent many summers in depicting the beauties of nature. He possessed a rare charm and promised to become famous amongst art lovers of the Continent for the excellence of his work. He not only painted nature, but lived and felt and understood the great beauty of the wilds. His work possessed a truth and fidelity that could only come from direct and sympathetic touch with his subject and that he had died on the threshold of fame makes his demise the more to be regretted. He was one of the fine type of young manhood that the country has every reason to be proud of.


Referring to the work of the late Mr. Thomson, Eric Brown, in a recent article in the London “Studio” says: “Critics look to him to carry forward the Canadian landscape painting far beyond anything at present realized. Wandering alone the best part of the year in Algonquin Park, inured to hardship and reputed the best guide, fisherman and canoeman in the district, he lives with these wonderful seasons and they live through him. Here, again is the decorative sense ly developed and visible in every composition. There is no loss of chararcter; the northland lies before you, whether it is a winding river fringed with spring flowers seen through a screen of gaunt black pines, or whether the green blocks of melting ice float on blue liberated waters of the lake.”

The sympathy of everyone will go out to the bereaved relatives in their sad loss.

Tom Thomson, Artist, Drowned

Owen Sound Times, July 20, 1917


Tom Thomson, who was drowned in Canoe lake, Algonquin park, July 8th, 1917, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Thomson, 428 Fourth avenue east, Owen Sound. He was born in the village of Claremont, Ontario county, and spent twenty years of the early part of his life at Leith. He afterwards attended college and then lived for five years in Seattle, Washington. After returning from Seattle, he lived the remainder of his time in Toronto, and for some years worked at artistic designing for some of the engraving companies of Toronto.

While engaged in this line of work, he endeavored to develop his artistic tastes along a high line and commenced the study of landscape painting. His love for nature, which was developed through his early associations with nature, caused him to choose this line of art. After a time he devoted his whole time to the pursuit of this wonderful and uplifting study.

Every year he went to Algonquin park for six months. Here he went far into the wilds, traveling at times by way of canoe and at other times on foot, and often entirely alone, so that he could study nature in its different aspects. He was with nature so much that he became a part of it, and this enabled him to paint just what he felt.

In the winter months he enlarged his sketches and he had a wonderful collection in his studio in Rosedale, Toronto. His work was steadily growing in esteem and he had a very bright future before him. His pictures were steadily sought for, for the collections of the Ontario and Dominion governments. He had a bright and cheerful disposition and was filled with kindness for all. He was loved by all who knew him.

The body, accompanied by Mr. George Thomson, is expected in Owen Sound at noon on Friday, and in this case, the funeral, which is to be private, will leave his father’s residence Friday afternoon. The remains will be interred in Leith cemetery.