M. R. Dixon, "I Buried Tom Thomson, No Foul Play", Toronto Star, Oct. 12, 1956

Thomson Drowned

Sir: I was the undertaker who embalmed and interred the remains of Tom Thomson at Canoe Lake in 1917, and have a very distinct recollection of all the official proceedings at that time. I beg to take issue with reports that appeared last week suggesting death by foul play.

I was called from Algonquin park headquarters to remove the body from the water and prepare it for shipment. When I arrived at Joe Lake Station I was met by Mark Robinson, ranger. His first question was, “Is the coroner from North Bay on the train?” He was not and I informed him I could do nothing without a death certificate. He got in touch with Mr. Bartlett, the superintendent of the park, and he sent over a certificate of accidental death by drowning.

As superintendent, he said, he was ex-officio a coroner. We brought the body to the island and proceeded to embalm it.

There was certainly no blood on the face or any indication of foul play, just the usual postmortem staining that is on the body of any person that is in the water of a small lake for 10 days in the heat of the summer.

No one else assisted us. The relatives of friends did not arrive on the next train so Mr. Bartlett gave me a burial permit to inter the remains in the burial ground there. A tourist who was a minister conducted the service. The casket was not a cedar coffin but a good hardwood one.

I cannot believe Mark Robinson said, as reported by Mr. Little, that the body was never removed. He told me they removed the body some time later and that it was in a remarkable state of preservation and must have been well embalmed. If these people wanted to make sure of these “old wives tales” why didn’t they get an exhumation order and examine the casket that was alleged to be empty instead of desecrating the cemetery at Canoe Lake? In British Columbia they put them in jail for that kind of thing.

M. R. Dixon, Parry Sound

Source: M. R. Dixon, "I Buried Tom Thomson, No Foul Play," Toronto Daily Star, October 12, 1956

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