Friday, July 12, 2024

Art Gallery Brings Tom Thomson Home to Owen Sound

On Friday, June 14, from 7 to 10 p.m., the Tom Thomson Art Gallery is hosting a special celebration of Tom Thomson’s homecoming to Owen Sound and the unveiling of the Art Gallery’s first donation of a Tom Thomson painting in more than 20 years.

The Homecoming exhibition explores the role that Owen Sound played in Thomson’s artistic growth and his emergence as a national icon. This special evening will feature introductory remarks by Charles Hill, one of Canada’s preeminent art historians. Attendees will enjoy music by Max Clark, a special performance from the musical Tom Thomson’s Wake by members of Shipyard Kitchen Party, a Tom Thomson monologue performed by Karina McKerroll, a Thomson-inspired cocktail, wine, beer, or cider, and indulge in some edible art by The Milk Maid. The cost to attend is $50.

On Saturday, June 15, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., there is a lunch and talk by Charles Hill, former Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery. Hill has presented the art of Canada to both Canadian and international audiences through organizing exhibitions, the development of the National Gallery’s permanent collection, and his writing of major catalogues, essays, and articles for more than 35 years. In 1995, his exhibition, The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation, travelled to Mexico, Scandinavia, and China. Lunch will be provided by The Milk Maid with coffee/tea. The cost to attend is $35 or $75 for both the reception and talk.

As one of Canada’s most recognized and celebrated artists, the Homecoming exhibition explores the role that Owen Sound and surrounding areas played in Tom Thomson’s artistic career.

Thomson grew up on a farm near Leith, just northeast of Owen Sound. After apprenticing at a foundry and machine shop in Owen Sound in 1899, he left the city to further his education and seek adventure in Seattle, Washington. A few years later in 1902, his parents sold the Leith family farm, moving to a home overlooking Owen Sound on the East Hill, near the present-day site of Georgian College. Three years later, Thomson would return to Ontario and work in Toronto as a graphic designer, but he regularly visited Owen Sound to see his family and friends.

In 1908, Thomson’s parents built a new house at 528 4th Avenue East, providing Thomson easy access to the Sydenham River and surrounding hills in what is now Harrison Park. The artworks he created during these visits act as key markers in tracing his artistic development.

It is from the Owen Sound region that Thomson captured family members’ likenesses in early sketchbooks, recorded local scenes in line drawings using pen and ink, experimented with recording the landscape through black-and-white photography, and most importantly, transitioned from watercolour to oil-painted landscapes, for which he would become famous.

The exhibition is presented through the research of David Huff, former Curator of Collections, and sponsored by the Heffel Foundation.

Tickets can be purchased at the Gallery, by phone (519-376-1932), or online at

Popular this week

Latest news