Blodwen Davies, "Nineteen Seventeen", in Tom Thomson: The Story of A Man Who Looked For Beauty and for Truth in the Wilderness, 1967


Mowatt Lodge stood on the side of Canoe Lake. A short distance down the lake and separated from the mainland by only a narrow channel, is Little Wapomeo Island, the property of Taylor Statten, who had a cottage on it. At the time the cottage was empty. The channel between the island and the mainland was choked with drowned timber, so Thomson paddled around to the east of Little Wap, then passed out of sight of Mowatt Lodge and the cottages round about it. He swung in across the channel between Little Wap and its sister island, Big Wapomeo, apparently with the intention of hugging the main shore until he came to the portaging place by which he would cross over into one of the little lakes where the big trout were to be found.

When Thomson did not return that night, there was no alarm on the part of any of his friends. If they discussed it at all, they must have concluded that the fish were not biting and that he was challenged to continue. He had food with him and a groundsheet.


The mystery surrounding Thomson’s death will never be cleared up. Was he drowned in the quiet waters of a small lake? A man who paddled all over the Park, generally alone, in all kinds of weather, run rapids, and carried his canoe over rough portages and made his camp in the bush in wolf-ridden country?

There were theories – suicide, heart attack, foul play, but the verdict was “Accidental drowning” – not very convincing; but with no evidence of anything to the contrary, it stands and must be accepted. A. Y. J.

Source: Blodwen Davies, ""Nineteen Seventeen," in Tom Thomson: The Story of A Man..." in Tom Thomson: The Story of A Man Who Looked For Beauty and for Truth in the Wilderness, [A. Y. Jackson?] (Vancouver: Mitchell Press, 1967), 95-96. Notes: "A revised memorial edition of the [1935] limited and privately printed first volume by the author, the late Miss Blodwen Davies."

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