244: What Happened to Tom Thomson?

Episode 244: On the morning of the 8th of July 1917, thirty-nine-year-old Tom Thomson, a renowned Canadian painter and skilled outdoorsman, set off well-supplied for a day-long fishing excursion in his canoe on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park in Whitney, Ontario. A canoe, later identified as Thomson’s, was found floating upside down in the lake later on the same day. When Tom did not return from his fishing trip the next day, his friends became concerned. Eight days after Thomson first set out, Dr. G. W. (Goldwyn) Howland, a cottager from Toronto, spotted Tom’s bloated and decomposed body floating in the lake. An examination of Thomson’s body uncovered a large bruise on the right side of his head, and blood had come out of his right ear. Thomson’s death was quickly ruled an accident, and no police investigation occurred. Thomson was laid to rest in Mowat Cemetery near Canoe Lake, where he’d died. However, Thomson’s older brother George demanded the body be exhumed. Two days later, Tom’s grave was re-opened, the casket removed, and he was re-interred on July 21 in the family plot beside the Leith Presbyterian Church in what is now the Municipality of Meaford, Ontario.

Officially the matter was closed, but mythology has grown around Thomson’s death. In the intervening years since Thomson’s death, investigations by sleuths, amateur and professional, have come to various conflicting conclusions. Some agree with the initial findings that Thomson died due to accidental drowning. Others, however, suggest that Tom Thomson was murdered.


Death on a Painted Lake: The Tom Thomson Tragedy

Algonquin Provincial Park | Ontario, Canada | The Friends of Algonquin Park

Tom Thomson | The Canadian Encyclopedia

The Group of Seven – Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933

Canada’s History Books – Canada’s History

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson, Canadian Painter – alexanderadamsart

Tom Thomson: The Silence and the Storm by David Silcox, Harold Town – Ebook | Scribd

Tom Thomson by Joan Murray – Ebook | Scribd

Who Killed Tom Thomson? by John Little – Ebook | Scribd

The Many Deaths of Tom Thomson by Gregory Klages – Ebook | Scribd

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson by George A. Walker – Ebook | Scribd

Tom Thomson’s Last Paddle by Larry McCloskey – Ebook | Scribd

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