Northern Light

Northern Light

The Enduring Mystery of Tom Thomson and the Woman Who Loved Him

Book - 2010
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FINALIST 2011 nbsp;- Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction

Roy MacGregor's lifelong fascination with Tom Thomson first led him to write Canoe Lake , a novel inspired by a distant relative's affair with one of Canada's greatest painters. Now, MacGregor breaks new ground, re-examining the mysteries of Thomson's life, loves and violent death in the definitive non-fiction account. Why does a man who died almost a century ago and painted relatively little still have such a grip on our imagination?

The eccentric spinster Winnie Trainor was a fixture of Roy MacGregor's childhood in Huntsville, Ontario. She was considered too odd to be a truly romantic figure in the eyes of the town, but the locals knew that Canada's most famous painter had once been in love with her, and that she had never gotten over his untimely death. She kept some paintings he gave her in a six-quart basket she'd leave with the neighbours on her rare trips out of town, and in the summers she'd make the trip from her family cottage, where Thomson used to stay, on foot to the graveyard up the hill, where fans of the artist occasionally left bouquets. There she would clear away the flowers. After all, as far as anyone knew, he wasn't there: she had arranged at his family's request for him to be exhumed and moved to a cemetery near Owen Sound.

As Roy MacGregor's richly detailed Northern Light reveals, not much is as it seems when it comes to Tom Thomson, the most iconic of Canadian painters. Philandering deadbeat or visionary artist and gentleman, victim of accidental drowning or deliberate murder, the man's myth has grown to obscure the real viewnbsp;-- and the answers to the mysteries are finally revealed in these pages.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2010
ISBN: 9780307357397
Branch Call Number: 759.11 THO 2010
Characteristics: xvi, 357 p., [20] p. of plates : ill., maps, ports. ; 24 cm


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Nov 20, 2012

Interesting story of Winnie Trainor and Tom Thomson

smc01 Mar 20, 2012

I admire Roy MacGregor's lifelong quest to learn more about Tom Thomson, but found this book to be too repetitive. Too many details were described over and over. It could have been a much shorter book. I did like his portrayals of Thomson and Winnifred Trainor, and the stories about some of the local characters and settings. Overall it does fill one with regret about the art that Thomson could have been produced if he had survived longer.

Mar 21, 2011

True story about the unsolved and mysterious disappearance of a famous Canadian landscape artist.
Very well researched from the author who lived in the area all his life.

Mar 20, 2011

This was a good read for those of us who hunger for detail and long to solve the mystery of Thom Thomson's death. It was particularly interesting from an historical point of view as it captured life in Huntsville and surrounding area in the early 1900s. Algonquin Park was a new innovation and clearly one to be launched without incident if all governments had their way. Thomson was clearly an odd duck and there were more than a few suspects for his ultimate demise. Nothing is really made clear with the possible exception of the final resting place of Thomson's body. I was left with a sense of deep regret at the art he might have produced had he survived what was clearly his period of burgeioning creativity.

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