March 21, 1917 Records of Spring

March 21, 1917

I’ll be leaving to go up North in less than two days.

I have an idea that’s never been done. I’m going to paint the season as it changes day by day. Each day a different sketch and when I’m done I’ll hang them all together so you can see the change of light and season.

I plan to make my sketches more like records. A daily record. I’ll paint what I see and feel. I have always been thinking about this idea when I spent time with my Uncle Brodie. Uncle Brodie was a naturalist and he taught me to look closely at the different species of plants and animals. I would go on excursions with him, the Brodie Club as he called it. We would start hikes early in the morning from his house and walk for hours, identifying hundreds of species of plants and animals.

It was from Brodie where I got my eye for detail in nature. A swath of green to anyone else would explode into a thousand trees for me, each having their own personality. Every trail was filled with a thousand things to see and I always chuckled to myself about the city folk I guided who said there was nothing interesting to see in the bush. City blindness I called it.

Uncle Brodie told me to keep a journal. “You will be sorry if you don’t. It will become more valuable each year.” I never did until now and I decided that my daily journal this year would be a sketch daily, recording the change in season.

I’ve arranged to stay at Mowat Lodge until the ice goes out. That will be until the first of May. I’ll probably stay close at hand until the flies are done. Probably until early July, I’ll stay and then I’ll think about a longer trip or even leaving altogether. Nobody knows about those plans yet. I don’t even know about those plans yet, so I haven’t bother to let anyone know.

Shannon Fraser owes me a large account. About $200 I lent him last year so he could buy canoes for his boat livery. I’ll draw against that and do odd jobs for him in kind. There are lots of things to repair around the Lodge and drawing the ice from the lake in springtime is a big job.

Money is short for me. What I’ve got I am spending on paint and brushes. The boards I am hoping to get from Shannon. He is keeping the leftover crates and boxes which I can take apart to make boards. Fishing, too, will keep me self sufficient. I can catch more than enough for myself and give Annie ample to feed the guests.

Mark Robinson is still overseas, so there may be possibility to be a Park Ranger for a time being. I’ll go over the Cache Lake and visit Park Supt. George Bartlett to see what the opportunities are. I’m also looking forward to seeing Ed and Molly Colson. They used to be the co-managers of the Highland Inn but moved on to the Algonquin Hotel at Joe Lake.

I had some visitors today. My brother-in-law Tom Harkness and his business associate Walter Davidson. Tom’s niece, Lowe Julian came along with her friend, Miss Andrews. They cam to see the show and Tom had some business in the City. I was supposed to call on Low but I never did. I saw her in Annan on New Year’s Eve and we took the train back from Owen Sound together. She’s taking an art class from Manley at the college. I pity her with Manley. Tom said all was fine with Elizabeth. She’s been staying in Owen Sound to help with my father. He’s been sick and bit of a handful for both mother and Aunt Henrietta. We had lunch on King and after I went with them to the hotel to pick up their luggage and then to the train station. I walked back.

I’m now packing my belongings here at the Shack. I don’t have much to bring actually. My fishing rod, kit and paddle. A few clothes, and of course my sketch box. I made a few boards to take along as well. I’ll be able to carry everything all at once. Makes me think of what someone once said “The only thing you can bring to the afterlife is what you can bring in a canoe and carry on a portage. So make it matter.”

Good advice.

March 20, 1917 Pictures Worth Seeing

March 20, 1917

“These are pictures worth seeing!”

By the time he said those words, I had warmed up to him. I accepted the compliment but didn’t say anything to him. It was from the Sun reporter that came down from Owen Sound (he said his name, but I forgot it because I was busy getting my stuff ready. I never bothered to ask).

He came by around 10:30 this morning. He said he came down the day before see the Spring Exhibition and was surprised that I didn’t have any of my paintings on display. He saw my address in the back of the program and decided to pay an unannounced visit. Bill Beatty brought him here from his hotel, but didn’t come in. Bill had other things to do.

“The paper wanted me to write an article on you. Imagine my shock when I learned you had nothing in the Exhibition. I was worried about having nothing for the paper.” He looked around the Shack and saw the piles of sketches and canvas. “Well, it looks like I hit a gold mine here!”

I humoured him, asked if he wanted to some tea, and set the kettle on the stove.

“I talked to your father last week. He said there was no point to talking to him and that I should come down to the show.”

I never told my father about this year’s show. But it’s an annual affair so he must have seen the dates must have been in the paper. The reporter was looking at my piles of sketches, “Go ahead, root through them, if you like.”

He obliged. There’s roughly four piles of sketches, and what falls in between counts for a fifth. I built a work table with a low shelf underneath. They’re all stacked on the table or on the shelf underneath. As I suggested he started rooting through them.

“Look at the colour!” He was looking at one of my wild flower sketches. The one I did in 1915. He then started to go through my sketches from last fall, the ones I did when I canoed with Ned Godin near Grand Lake and Achray. I noticed he was looking at a fall birches sketch. He went through the other piles then came back to look at that same one several times. I pretended not to notice but I was watching him out of the corner of my eye.

“You can have that one.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Thomson?”

“The birches one, with the red and yellow. Take it. I’ve got more like it. Take it, before I decide to throw it in the stove.”

“Thank you, Mr. Thomson! I’ll be sure to write a fine article about you and your work.”

“I’ll be finer, if you write nothing.” He smiled and said nothing. I got the sense he knew something of my character. I’m sure my father told him how to deal with me. That’s good, I get tired of people adjusting to my sometime unpredictable demeanour.

The kettle boiled and we had tea. I offered some (stale) biscuits) and we spent the rest of the morning talking and going through my sketches.  I showed him my canvases. Most were stacked against the wall inside, but I had some out in the shed. I brought them in. I told him about the troubles of trying to make a sketch into a canvas; how a difference and scale and proportion can complicate what you thought to a be completely perfect proportion. I showed him the difference in the sky from the sketch and the canvas. I try to paint what is true to what I’ve seen, but I’ve learned that the truth comes at different times and is found in different places. The hardest part, is to keep out the lies in your painting. I showed him how I tried to incorporate a sense of decoration into canvas. Much easier to do in a panel, even a large panel, that is intended to be decorative but much harder to incorporate in a work of art. A wrong sense can turn a canvas into a comic.

He left around noon. He carefully wrapped the sketch using  an old issue of the Toronto World I gave him. I joked that he would not have to dishonour an issue of the O.S. Sun, that is better left to wrap fish. As he bid goodbye, he said, “Mr. Thomson, these are pictures worth seeing. You make our city proud!”

“Please give my regards to my father and mother, if you do see them. I won’t be able to make it up this spring. I’m going to the Park this Friday.”

“I’ll make a special visit to pay my regards, Mr. Thomson. They must be proud to have such a fine artist-son as you.”

I could tell that my art changed this man in a slight but very fundamental way. I’m doing something right.

March 18, 1917 Taking Stock

March 18, 1917

Shack behind the Studio Building.

Taking stock of what I have and what I’m leaving behind. Sunday today. Less than a week before I go. On Friday. I’ll never have another Saturday here in the City (I hope) because next week I’ll be gone.

Last canvas is on the easel. West Wind I’m not finished with it but it’s finished with me. If I can live with it until the week is out, I promise I won’t touch it unless it touches me first.  Its greatest danger is me being around. If I do, I can wreak a god-like wrath on my creation. Complete destruction, or a worse fate, an abandoned disfigurement, like the men who’ve returned, suffering and refusing to tell their stories.

Not much here that’s mine. I’m a man of few means. I’ve given away more than my share that makes the ordinary church tithe look shameful, except none it ever went to a church. Never take more with you than what you can portage. If by rail on the Grand Trunk, take no more than they would charge you extra. But you still end giving a tip to the porter, so keep it to what you can carry yourself.

Always have two fishing poles: one split bamboo, the other a steel rod. Take with you the flies of the summer months  (no need for the winter flies, the ice is frozen), but always carry with you lures, like my home-made lures, made from Annie’s old spoons found in the pile of peelings out back. I bring these back to the City. I bring them to the place of my childhood and will be bringing them, once again, up North. They never leave me. They will probably go with me to the depths of the lake.

There are four seasons in the world, but there are only two in my mind – painting and no-painting. Or the season in the City and the season to be out of the damned place. As Lismer once said, ‘Toronto is a good place – to get out of!’ I miss him.  I miss Jackson. The machine has torn our world apart, and it’s looking for more things to tear apart: families, found photos of loved ones (struck through by a bullet) and the limbs off the bodies of young men. Factories of farm implements now churn out munitions and ordnances that rumble out on the daily trains to Montreal, Halifax and then overseas to the battles if they aren’t sunk by U-boats. Battles can be regaled in romantic poems of glory. But there is no appropriate verse for unrestricted warfare; it requires the deaths of another five million men or the strafing of souls left to sink in the North Atlantic to discovery the glory of a new verse.

What is the painting, then? A useless act? ‘Leave your paintbrushes and take up a rifle in the trenches.’ When all is dead and done in No Man’s Land, the poppies still grow. Why fight? Why win? When enemies pray to the same god before fighting to the death, who gets turned away at the gates?

March 17, 1917: Some Pretty Good Stuff

March 17, 1917

I’ll be done soon for the night.

I managed to go see the Allen Cup Final at the Arena tonight. The Riversides beat the St. Patricks 7-3. So much for the Irish on St Paddy’s Day. The Riversides managed to stay ahead on the score for whole game. The Pats managed to punch in two goals in the second and one in the third, but the Riversides kept adding even more for insurance. Thus, the Irishmen did not prove beyond all contradiction that they are far superior to anyone and everything on the face of the earth. A good game, and a few good fights on the street to even out some unsettled scores made by the spectators.

I’ll be going up North soon. I doubt I’ll be doing any more work on the canvases. The news is getting grimmer everyday, and it’s becoming an unwanted preoccupation of mine to comb through the papers everyday.

Dr. MacCallum wants a list of the paintings I made this winter. Despite not showing anything at the OSA Exhibition, he feels I did some pretty good stuff and he’ll take care of selling and put the money to my account.

He wanted a list of the canvases plus the measurements. He said it’s easier to sell when you know the sizes. Some people buy just by size alone.

Canvases:

1. Snow in October 32″x35″
2. Early Snow 18″ x 18″
3. Maple Saplings, October 36″ x 40″
4. Woodland Waterfall 48″ x 52″
5. Pointers 38″ x 45″
6. Chill November 34″ x 40″
7. The Fisherman 20″ x 22″
8. The Drive 47″ x 54″
9. Jack Pine 50″ x 55″
10. West Wind 47″ x 54″

I may do some more on my last canvas. I’ll see what I can do over the next few days.

I haven’t yet done a tally of the other paintings and sketches. They’re piled high and everywhere. There are a few dozen canvases, and the sketches are in the hundreds. I also made several frames to stretch the canvas on. There’s a pile to them too.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done this winter. I never did seem to settle on a technique. Each painting seemed so different in its demands of me. I’ll be glad to be getting back to sketching. When I get there, I plan to sketch every day; watch the change in the snow, the woods. Watch the ice go out, spring flowers bloom and see the trees to turn to green. In the city, I paint on canvas to escape. In the country, I escape to paint sketches. They are opposite processes.

The next few days are packing and saying my goodbyes. These may be my last goodbyes for some.

March 16, 1917 Letter to Shannon Fraser

Studio Building, 25 Severn Toronto

Shannon Fraser, Mowat Lodge
Canoe Lake Stn., Algonquin Park

March 16, 1917

Dear Shannon,

I am planning to take the train up on the 23rd and will be arriving on the 584 Eastbound 3rd Class at 3:13 pm. I won’t be on the 1st Class because I plan to make a stop in Huntsville and take the next train to make the connection at Scotia Jctn. Am doubtful that there will be may other visitors this early in the season coming up on the 584. I can walk down but if you come up, I’d  be greatly obliged as it would be hard to walk with my gear. I can try to walk along the ice but I’m sure the snow is deep there too. I’m leaving my snowshoes in Toronto. My other ones are in the storage shed under my canoe. If you don’t want to wait around you can bring them up and leave them with the Station Master. Please keep the orange crates if you still have them around. I’m getting panels from the mill South River, and I’m bringing some, but I’ll make some from the crates if I get low.

If you want something from the City, you can still send me a letter and I should be able to get the stuff you need next week. You should get some pigs to fatten over the summer. When I stop, I’ll see what’s on offer in Huntsville. I could arrange to bring them up as luggage on the 3rd class to save on delivery. It may be still too cold but you could keep them in the back kitchen until it warms up. When they’re small, they’ll be manageable. You only need to put the stove on at night but you want to have them in the barn before the visitors begin to stay.

The City is getting grim and it’s best that I leave soon. Hope all is well  with the Mrs and your mother. Remember me to Mildred too.

Yours truly,

Tom Thomson

March 15, 1917 Lawren Harris Likes Van Gogh

March 14, 1917

Lawren Harris likes Van Gogh.

He spoke of Van Gogh during his time in Berlin. If I hadn’t known otherwise, it seemed like Lawren had actually met Vincent himself. If it were case, I’m sure that he would have given Vincent a few dollars and a bottle of whisky to make it to month’s end. Truthfully, I am also fascinated by Van Gogh. I learned what I could from the books at the library, but Lawren gave me the real tips he learned in Europe.

Lawren was part of our group of painters. Lawren and Jim MacDonald, always close friends since I’ve known them, originally conspired to form the “Canadian Vision” as Jim called it. I last saw Lawren when he visited me last spring, just before he enlisted. He was supposed to go for active duty, but something happened and he was turned down and now he is a gunnery officer in the camp in Barrie.

I remember Jim and Lawren talking about their trip to Hunstville and Burk’s Falls. It would have been the “Canadian Tragedy” were it not for Jim’s aunt doing the cooking for them. Her house was in Burk’s Falls and served as a base for their winter painting expeditions in 1912. It was a ways from the grandiose estates on the Muskoka Lakes, the distance being a hardship to those not used to being more than a finger’s distance from a bellhop ring. I’m teasing. Both Jim and Lawren are tough boys, but it can be hard to paint in the hinterland in February. The woodsman in me had enough sense to come back to the city for colder months of the year.

More importantly, Lawren became my banker. He ended up managing my financial affairs, because I never really had the disposition to put my money on account – I would leave it lying around in bills, and it would disappear faster than I reckoned. Lack of money really wasn’t an issue, except when I needed more paint. Then Lawren would say to go to the shop and put the paint on his account. He’d knew I’d be good for the obligation, in kind or in cash.

As for painting, Lawren likes dreamy moods in his colours. He would soften up the light but I was the total opposite. I told him dreams were for the bedroll and I liked to paint it like it is. It’s hard to be dreamy when your life is in your hands when you paint.

March 14, 1917 After the OSA Meeting

March 14, 1917

It’s getting later in the afternoon and the sun is still strong. It’s not yet the spring Equinox, but spring is certainly arriving and the winter is waning.

It was the Ontario Society of Artists Annual Meeting yesterday evening. I’m a member so I was obliged to attend. The meeting was held at the Public Reference Library in the art gallery after the Spring Exhibition had closed for the day. I arrived shortly after 6:00pm and helped set up the chairs and lectern in the gallery, in and amongst the paintings, prints and sculptures. As we were setting up, the members came in. There was about 40 people in total. I took a seat in the back, and when Florence arrived (a few minutes late) she sat beside me.

Sitting in the front row were George Reid and his wife Mrs. (Mary) Reid. George is the principal of the School of Art, a man of much public stature, so I keep my distance from him. Also seated in the front from was Charles Jefferys, Robert Gagen and Jim MacDonald. Fred Varley was in the second row with Mary Wrinch

Overall, the meeting was a series of dry formalities, interrupted by coughing and the scraping of chairs. I could barely hear Jefferys read his report (he mumbles) but I did hear that the Ontario Government did not make any purchases, but the National Gallery in Ottawa was still making purchases. He also lamented that the Canadian National Exhibition seems to be stuck on French and Belgian works almost to the exclusion of anything North American. It’s my feeling that this selection of art is still a reaction against reciprocity with the Americans, and that we were fighting in the War and the Americans weren’t.

The meeting concluded shortly before 10pm. A dry and turgid affair as all these types of gatherings go. There’s one thing I dislike worse than a firebrand sermon, it’s debate about some arcane point of order. As an O.S.A  voting member, I was expected to go and I did. I sat in the back and raised my hand at the right moments declaring my support for whatever motion was being passed. The meeting was set up in the middle of the exhibition space – a portable lectern up front  and about 50 wooden straight-backed chairs set in an orderly 10 rows.

My reason for going, of course, was to support the membership of Florence, Frank Carmichael and ‘Franz’ Johnston (don’t call him Frank).  I arrived late and sat beside Florence who knew to sit in the back and awaiting.

“A shoddy business isn’t it?” I whispered into her ear as I lit my pipe. I took a puff, and exhaled slowly through my nostrils. The smoke wafted upward toward the ceiling to join the smoke of the other ten men smoking.

“Tom, don’t be such a cad!” Florence returned a mischievous glare while whispering her retort. I grinned as I stifled a chuckle. I could always get a rise out of Florence when we were other people. She is always so proper, when the situation demands, but when she is alone she is quite the opposite.

The exciting part of the meeting came at the end when the new OSA members were voted on. Both Frank Carmichael and Francis Johnston got a unanimous vote for membership. As for Florence (she was sitting beside me, gripping my hand during the vote), the show of hands was not nearly as strong. About ten members abstained and another four voted against. It seems that some are still not ready to have women in the Society, despite a third of the membership is women. I couldn’t quite see to the front during the vote, but I’m sure that Mary Wrinch voted against Florence’s membership.

The meeting finished up about ten o’clock and afterwards, I offer to walk Florence back to the room at the house she was staying. But she wanted to stay with me because I told her I’d be going up North soon. She said that she would very much like to visit me in the Park. She plans to visit friends Ottawa this spring and could make the connections through the Park and stay for a few days. I said I would make arrangements with Shannon. I doubted that the Mowat Lodge would be fully occupied until well into the summer months (if at all).

When we got back to the Shack, I tried to turn the electric light. The electricity was out so we had to make do with kerosene and candlelight. That was fine, because what we planned to do didn’t need much light.

This morning, I walked with Florence to the street car and we said our goodbyes. She didn’t walk me to walk her any further in case anyone might see us. I didn’t really care, because I was going to be gone soon, but I understood her point of view. During wartime everybody seems to have a judgment on everybody else’s business.

Back at the shack I continued to work on my canvas. I may be able to get another one done before I go North, but I’m not banking on it.

 

 

March 13, 1917 Ontario Society of Artist’s Report

ONTARIO SOCIETY OF ARTISTS
PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL REPORT
March 13, 1917

The Society entered upon its Forty-fifty Year with the Annual Meeting, which was held on March 14th, 1916.

The following officers were elected:
President – C. W. Jefferys.
Vice-President and Treasurer – J. E. H. MacDonald.
Secretary – R. F. Gagen.
Auditors – James Smith and R. J. Dilworth.
Executive Council – T. W. Mitchell, Mary H. Reid, Robert Holmes, Arthur Lismer, T. G. Greene, H. S. Palmer, F. M. Bell-Smith.
New Members Elected – Estelle Kerr, Marion Long, Ernest Fosbery, F. Horsman Varley.
Representatives to the Canadian National Exhibition – T. G. Greene and F. M. Bell-Smith.

The Forty-fourth Annual Exhibition of the Society was held in the galleries of the Toronto Art Museum at the Public Library, from March 11th to April 15th, 1916. It comprised 134 paintings in oil and water color, 38 etchings, drawings, etc., and 12 pieces of sculpture, contributed by 67 exhibitors. The Committee of Selection and Arrangement consisted of Miss Dorothy Stevens, Mr. H. S. Palmer and Mr. J. E. H. MacDonald. The Exhibition was attended by about 4,000 visitors.

The Trustees of the National Gallery purchased the following works:

Britain’s Domain – W. M. Cutts $750.00
Snow II – Lawren Harris $600.00
Willow Creek, August – C. W. Jefferys $75.00
The Barn, Winter – Manly MacDonald $100.00
Spring Ice – Tom Thomson $300.00
Fairy Sleep -Dudley Ward $75.00
Total $1,900.00

Forty-Fifth Annual Report
Very few private sales were made, and the Ontario Government ‘ as last year, made no purchases. War time economies, no doubt, are responsible for these reductions, and the artists of Canada, both individually and collectively through their associations, are feeling the pressure and bearing their full share of the burdens which the great conflict is putting upon our country. Under these circumstances the encouragement which the Dominion Government, through the Trustees of the National Gallery, continues to give to native art is all the more necessary and welcome. We trust that its work in this direction will continue and increase, and also that the Ontario Government will now, or in the very near future, find it possible to resume the support of the native art of the Province, which has so materially assisted its growth in the past.

The Fine Arts Exhibit at the Canadian National Exhibition this year consisted of French and Belgian pictures, sculpture, etchings and drawings from the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, a gallery of current Canadian pictures, and a collection of graphic and applied art from Canada- and the United States. The French and Belgian exhibit, though by no means fully representative of the contemporary art of these countries, was extremely interesting and especially useful to the student of present day tendencies in painting. The Canadian section, both in painting and in graphic art, was unusually large, and of a high standard of excellence. It is therefore to be regretted that the Directors of the Canadian National Exhibition should not have given the art of our country that encouragement which artists and public alike have a right to expect from such a body. The expenditure of $5,000.00 for foreign art, however worthy, and of only $650.00 for Canadian pictures, presents a disparity that has aroused much criticism. A policy of such discrimination, if continued, will make it extremely difficult for the Exhibition to secure the best work of Canadian artists, and seriously impair its character as a factor in the development of national production in the fine arts.

The year has been marked by some important changes in the local art situation. in May the Society was informed that the Public Library Board had terminated its agreement with the Toronto Art Museum, which permitted the use of its galleries for current exhibition purposes, as they were required for the Library’s permanent collection of historical prints and pictures. The Board, at some considerable inconvenience to its own arrangements, kindly offered the Ontario Society of Artists the use of its old premises for the Annual Exhibition of 1917.’ The Society, therefore, has gladly availed itself of the opportunity which has made possible the present exhibition. The situation thus created, however, made more pressing the need of an adequate art gallery for the city, and the Museum decided to proceed immediately with the erection of a unit of its proposed building. Work on the new galleries was commenced November lst, and construction has already been carried to a point which promises its completion within the present year. It is gratifying to know that we have in sight a building which will give ample accommodation for the exhibition of pictures under proper conditions of light and space, amid harmonious surroundings, and with conveniences for their handling which hitherto have been lacking in Toronto. The Museum has continued its practice of holding small exhibitions throughout the year in the Grange Building. There have included collections of American illustrations, American wood block prints, lithographs from the Ottawa National Gallery, an exhibition of work by the students of the Ontario College of Art, and an exhibition of Canadian etchings and lithographs. These exhibitions have diffused a knowledge of the various pictorial arts that is extremely useful, and the attendance shows an increasing interest on the part of the public that is most encouraging.

In June the Society received notice that the premises which they had occupied for some years at 28 College Street had been sold, and that they must seek other quarters. After inspecting several possibilities, the Society finally secured rooms at 707 Yonge Street.

The Revised Constitution was submitted to the Society, and, after a full discussion, was adopted and printed, and copies are now in the hands of the members.

The Society maintains its connection with the Ontario College of Art, and is represented on its Council by Messrs. Bell-Smith and Gagen, who were re-elected during the year,

Forty-Fifth Annual Report
The College is still cramped in its operations by inadequate space and insufficient financial support, and not much, relief can be anticipated until after the war.

We have lost this year one of the oldest members of the Society by the death of Mr. Joseph T. Rolph. Though advancing years had prevented his active participation in the affairs of the Society for some time, he maintained his interest in its progress, and the youthful cheerfulness and geniality of his disposition made him the friend of all who knew him.

The Society realizes the need of providing for the families of the soldiers and is anxious to do what it can as a body to help this most worthy cause. It has therefore decided to pay all the expenses in connection with the present exhibition out of its own surplus funds, and to devote the entire proceeds from the sale of admission tickets to the Toronto and York County Patriotic Fund, as a slight recognition of our indebtedness to those who are sacrificing so much for us.

The war has been brought very near to us by the service in the field of two of our members, Private, A. Y. Jackson and Captain Ernest Fosbery. Both of them have been wounded, but art now recovered and again on duty. The Society sends them the assurance of its grateful admiration for their devotion to the cause which so deeply concerns us, and of its earnest good wishes for their future safety and success. I have to thank the members once more for their loyal support in the work of the Society, and to testify to the excellent service of the various committees. We shall continue to feel the strain of war conditions for some time, and there are doubtless anxious and critical months still before us, but the prospect is not without encouragement, and we must look forward confidently to the ‘ achievement of the victorious peace that will permit the resumption of the progress of the arts, which, in Canada, as elsewhere throughout the world, has been so seriously interrupted by the great war.

CHARLES W. JEFFERYS.

Mysterious Fates of Tom #WhoKilledTomThomson

Dear followers,

The mystery and how I met my fate on July 8, 1917 has never been conclusively resolved. Nor is it settled on where my body finally rests at Canoe Lake or Leith Cemetery.

This story never ends. I have created hashtags for clues and the the eight possibilities. If you want to learn more about each fate, or add to the story, use the hashtags below:

Following the clues and adding to the speculation

You can follow the clues and add to the speculation using:

#WhoKilledTomThomson

And for the eight possibles fate below:

Fate 1: Accidental Death

I fell out of my canoe, drunk, or during the act of urinating. Either way, or both, I hit my head and fell overboard. It was an accident. Follow this fate at: #ttfate1

Fate 2: Suicide

With an inevitable fate closing in on me, I had no choice but to end my life. Follow this fate at: #ttfate2

Fate 3: Death at the hands of Martin Blecher

Martin Blecher and I got into a fight the night before I was last seen. He decided to settle the score the next day.  Follow this fate at: #ttfate3

Fate 4: Death at the hands of Hugh Trainor

Hugh Trainor, Winnie’s father becomes mighty upset at me. Enough to get into fisticuffs and striking me down. Follow this fate at: #ttfate4

Fate 5: Death at the hands of Shannon Fraser

Shannon owed me money, or if you believed his version of the story, I owed him money. The ensuing argument caused me to trip and dash my head on a fire grate. Follow this fate at: #ttfate5

Fate 6: Death at the hands of a Poacher

Poachers were a ruthless bunch. They didn’t like being challenged, especially in a canoe with load of pelts. My duty as a guide, to apprehend poachers goes horribly awry. Follow this fate at: #ttfate6

Fate 7: Disappearance

Poachers dress the same as guides. In this fate, it’s the poacher that gets the short end of the bargain. I realize that this is an opportunity to escape, wrapping up the loose ends of my life here, and starting with a new identity elsewhere. Follow this fate at: #ttfate7

Fate 8: Death of Natural Causes

My recovery from a childhood sickness leaves behind a unknown but deadly health condition. As the tension grows, and my stress rises, this deadly condition suddenly rears itself and I have no chance but to succumb. Follow this fate at#ttfate8

Some may believe in one fate over the other and that is the end of the story. But they are all possible, no matter how remote the likelihood, and that’s why this story never ends.

I’ll get back to my journal writing now. The bugs are biting bad and I plan to turn in soon. I may have some guide work in the next few days. But I promise you June 1917 will turn out to be an eventful and dramatic last month of my life. And July 1917 will be fateful, not only for me, but for all of Canada, as I understand.

Please follow me and keep the story going.

Affectionately,

‘Tom’