George Thomson, Letter to Blodwen Davies, June 8, 1931

Owen Sound, Ont.
June 8. 1931.

Dear Miss Davies. –


I had heard that there was some ill feeling between Tom and some man in that region [Mowat]. It was somewhat casually referred to by some one at Canoe Lake possibly one of the Rangers, but as this was while we were still looking for Tom and I was still hopeful of his safe recovery, I didn’t at the time attach any serious importance to the report.

As I probably explained to you when here I was then living in New Haven, Conn. and happened to be home on a short vacation when word came of the finding of Tom’s canoe. I was obliged to return to work with little opportunity of investigating conditions surrounding his death.

I have steadfastly refused to entertain the suicide theory. He had too much to live for to make such a theory tenable, considering his great love for his work and the outstanding recognition he had met with. And besides he had prepared for and laid in provisions enough for a two or three week cruise when lost at the start within a mile of the Lodge.

I am adding a copy of the coroner’s finding at the inquest which we hold in his own handwriting:

July 17. 1917

“Body of Tom Thomson, artist, found floating in Canoe lake, July 16. 1917. Certified to be the person named by Mark Robinson, Park Ranger. Body clothed in grey lumberman’s shirt, khaki trowsers and canvas shoes. Head shows marked swelling of face, decomposition has set in, air issuing from mouth. Head has a bruise over left temple as if produced by falling on rock. Examination of body shows no bruises, body greatly swollen, blisters on limbs, putrefaction setting in on surface. There are no signs of any external force having caused death, and there is no doubt but that death occurred from drowning.”

G. W. Howland
538 Spadina Av.

I think the revealing statement in the above finding is that of the bruise over left temple, which I believe rendered him unconscious so that drowning ensued. Of course it is hard to say what caused the bruise. It probably was an accident though it is possible to have been foul play. Personally I have always favored the accident theory though I realize the possibility of foul play. The one thing clear in my mind is that Tom could never of his own impulse have put that bruise there and any conclusion based on a group of facts omitting this one is not a sound or justifiable conclusion to my mind.

In any event, speaking for the family, we would very much deplore any discussion of the matter before the public. Such a discussion would do no good and would likely result in much harm to Tom’s name.

Very sincerely yours,
Geo Thomson

Source: Library and Archives Canada/Bibliotheque et Archives Canada, MG30 D38 Blodwen Davies fonds, Vol. 11, George Thomson, Letter to Blodwen Davies, June 8, 1931. Notes: Original document withdrawn from circulation. Copy available on microfilm C-4579

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