[ The Alligator, Algonquin Park ]

The Alligator, Algonquin Park, Tom Thomson, 1914, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, MSAC UG989.096, "The Alligator" was a unique type of boat that worked in the Park. It was powered by side-mounted steamwheels and was used to haul logs. The name derives from the fact that the vessel also had a winch, which when connected to a sturdy tree, could be used to draw the vessel over land. This painting, oil on book-binder's board, is a gift of Stewart and Letty Bennett, donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation to the University of Guelph, 1988

The logging industry has a very long history in Canada. The area now occupied by Algonquin Park, for instance, has been logged for well over 150 years.

Logging has long played a vital role in the area of the Canadian Shield, a geologic feature underlying almost half of Canada, including Nunavut and much of northern Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. The search for stands of trees suitable for lumbering was key to the development of much of the southern portions of the Shield’s economy, culture, transportation systems, and communities. The lumber industry also led to significant environmental changes in this area.

Somewhat surprisingly, the interests of the logging industry played a vital role in the establishment of Algonquin Park. Lumbering was significant in shaping the scenes Tom Thomson saw in the Park. His paintings certainly reflect the presence, and effects, of logging in Algonquin Park.

This section will give you a small sense of the history of the logging industry in the Algonquin region. In particular, it will help you gain a sense of the relationship between the logging industry, Mowat — the hamlet where Tom Thomson was living in the spring and summer of 1917, and Canoe Lake — where he died.

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