Investigators

[ Refilling the grave ]

Refilling the grave, Unknown [Dr. Harry Ebbs?], 1956-09-30, Algonquin Park Archives, APMA 6739, Left to right: Leonard Gibson, William Little, Frank Braucht, Jack Eastaugh. APM records identify this photo as "Excavating the grave." The dispersion of soil, and the presence of an unknown photographer (Dr. Harry Ebbs?) suggests this photo documents the temporary refilling of the grave site. In his 1970 book, "The Tom Thomson Mystery", William Little does not provide the exact date his group dug at the Mowat cemetery site. His narrative of the events, along with reports in the "Globe and Mail" and "Toronto Star", place the likely date of the dig as Sunday, September 30

In the decades since Thomson’s death, a number of investigators have attempted to unravel what happened. Some have done extensive research, some have used the research of others. Each brought the skills specific to their background journalism, law, art history but few were trained as professional historians. Each pursued the story in a different way, and responded to either attempting to refute or expand on a previous author’s conclusions.

Blodwen Davies: Born in 1897, Blodwen Davies began her writing career as a reporter for the Fort William (now Thunder Bay) newspaper. She eventually moved to Toronto, and in 1935 wrote and self-published a biography of Tom Thomson. This text was edited and republished in 1967. Davies passed away in 1966.

Blodwen Davies, Excerpt from 'Paddle and Palette' (The Story of Tom Thomson)', 1930
Blodwen Davies, Application for the exhumation of the body of one Thos. Thomson drowned in Canoe Lake in 1917, July 27, 1931
Blodwen Davies, "Nineteen-Seventeen," in A Study of Tom Thomson, 1935
Blodwen Davies, "And in Conclusion," in A Study of Tom Thomson, 1935
Blodwen Davies, "Nineteen-Seventeen," in Tom Thomson: The Story of a Man .., 1967

William T. Little: During the 1950s and 1960s, William Little, supervisor of the reformatory in Brampton, Ontario, pursued an interest in the Tom Thomson tragedy. In the late 1960s, Little became a Judge. He also worked with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1969 to produce a television program regarding Thomson’s death. In 1970, he published The Tom Thomson Mystery, a summary of his research regarding Thomson’s death.

William T. Little. A Sketching Expedition and its Bizarre Development. The Tom Thomson Mystery, 1970

Roy MacGregor: An author and newspaper columnist, MacGregor, born in 1948, has a long connection to Algonquin Park. His grandfather was the Park’s chief ranger, and his father spent his whole working-life there as a logger. MacGregor has published over 30 books, including Canoe Lake, a fiction work Tom Thomson tragedy. He has worked for a number of well-known Canadian periodicals, including the Globe and Mail, National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, Maclean’s magazine, and the Toronto Star. MacGregor was named to the Order of Canada in 2005.

Roy MacGregor, The Great Canoe Lake Mystery, Maclean's, September 31, 1973
Roy MacGregor, The Legend, The Canadian, October 15, 1977

Dr. Noble Sharpe: Dr. Sharpe received his M.B. from the University of Toronto in 1911, and served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps in Europe until 1919. From 1919 to 1923, he served as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Toronto and from 1923 to 1950, as Pathologist at Old Grace Hospital, the Toronto Hospital for Consumptives, and Toronto Western Hospital. In 1951 he was appointed Medical Director of the Ontario Attorney-General’s Laboratory, retiring in 1967. After his retirement, Sharpe served as a Consultant Pathologist with the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences.

Dr. Noble Sharpe, Re: Human Bones received from unmarked grave in Algonquin Park, October 30, 1956
Dr. Noble Sharpe, Re: Request for Report on Remains found at Canoe lake, February 20, 1967
Dr. Noble Sharpe, The Canoe lake Mystery, Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal, June 31, 1970

David Silcox and Harold Town: Silcox and Town wrote Tom Thomson: The Silence and the Storm in 1977. David Silcox has had a varied career as a writer, educator, cultural administrator and arts advocate. Harold Town is an internationally respected Canadian painter who between 1954 and 1990 had over 100 one-man exhibitions of his work.