New Photo of Tom Thomson's Chestnut Canoe

Discussion in 'Canoe Photo Index' started by Murat V, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. Murat V

    Murat V Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Came across another photograph purported to be Tom Thomson's custom grey Chestnut canoe on the website http://tomthomsonart.com. Personally I've never seen this photo in any books or other websites before. Thought it might be of value to anyone interested in the Thomson mystery especially with the centennial of his drowning coming up next summer. A previous thread from years ago mentioned the canoe was likely an early model (pre-fire) Chestnut Cruiser.

    [​IMG]

    The caption:
    Thomson painted his canoe a distinctive dove grey, so it is easy to spot on the dock in front of Mowat Lodge. Proprietor of the lodge, Shannon Fraser is in suit. Across Canoe Lake, on the left, is Hayhurst Point, a favourite campsite of Thomson. The canoe disappeared after Thomson died. What happened to it is another mystery.
     
  2. WoodNCanvas

    WoodNCanvas LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Ghost Canoe

    Painted using a mixture of regular marine grey and an artist’s $2 tube of cobalt blue
    There was little chance of mistaking Tom Thomson’s distinctive dove grey canoe
    Yet when it was found floating upside down in Canoe Lake
    Offshore and unattended, riding free in the wave’s wake
    Little could anyone have realized the great mystery about to unfold
    The legend and the lore of the man, the story that might never be told

    Discovering Thomson’s body bobbing near Little Wapomeo Island
    With a bruise over the temple, blood coming from the ear
    Could this be the result of an argument that got out of hand?
    At the very least finding Tom such had been the greatest fear
    With so much talent and surely a prosperous future just ahead
    It was sad that by July 1917, at age 39, Tom Thomson was dead

    But would anybody ever know how he had met this terrible fate?
    Over the years memories fade and facts become less than straight
    What is to be made of the ankle wrapped around with fishing line?
    Was Tom killed by a waterborne whirlwind or likewise divine?
    And what ever became of the missing favourite paddle?
    So much that is hard to fathom or begin to try to straddle

    What of the two paddles lashed inside the canoe as if ready to carry
    But apparently haphazardly tied in with less than an expert’s knot?
    Had Thomson decided to head out west, to leave without further tarry?
    Was a loan to Shannon Fraser involved, a debt for canoes recently bought?
    Were harsh words over the war with Germany allowed to enflame?
    Was Martin Blecher (or was it Bletcher?) that was the one to blame?

    Would the truth ever come out of what had happened to the artist cum guide
    Had he drowned standing up attempting to pee over the canoe’s side?
    Was it a case of possible foul play or even suicide?
    Had Tom Thomson gone missing due to a matter of family pride?
    Had he promised Winnie Trainor that they would wed?
    Or was his death the result of a fatal blow to the head?

    Was there a baby that was soon to be due?
    And who really last saw Tom in his canoe?
    What is to be made of the report of the artist’s frequent swings in mood?
    Was Thomson a gentleman, true in his word, or a drunkard sometimes crude?
    Was he happy or sad? Was he bi-polar or even depressed?
    So much remains unknown and never properly addressed

    The coroner arrived after Tom had been embalmed and already buried
    Holding a brief inquest that found death to have been accidental drowning
    When to some such a finding seemed at the very least somewhat hurried
    Even the coroner’s report becoming lost can only leave one frowning
    What of the bruise on the temple? Was it on the left or the right?
    Surely there must have been talk from the locals of a possible fight?

    Accidental drowning may have been the official word
    But this just seems far too simple and even absurd
    Most thought Tom was more than adequate in the water; it was known he could swim
    He was also considered a good enough paddler to keep any canoe reasonably trim
    No water in his lungs? So long for the body to surface? Did something prevent it to rise?
    Too many questions for such a quick report….too much unanswered to just surmise

    What of the questions of the actual burial site? Is Tom in Leith or at Canoe Lake?
    Was there really a body in that sealed metal casket? Or merely sand meant to fake?
    Why has the family never allowed exhumation? Was undertaker Churchill sly as a fox?
    Who was dug up in 1956? Thomson or someone of Native descent left in the same box?
    Why did Miss Trainor continue to place flowers on a supposedly empty grave?
    Baffling and puzzling to say the least….enough to make some even rant and rave.

    Whatever we may know about Tom Thomson’s demise
    And no matter that we may have to just simply surmise
    Canoes do weave in and out of Thomson’s story; he often painted from a canoe
    Canoes appear in his art, even that of his distinctive Chestnut, painted grey blue
    A canoe was involved in his death and in the name of the lake where he lost his life
    Maybe from a debt over the purchase of canoes, money he needed to take a wife?

    Some even say a ghostly figure can be seen on misty mornings paddling a canoe on Canoe Lake
    But supposedly a silent, even benign spirit, hardly scary enough to keep one up nights wide awake
    So through much of the tale of Tom Thomson is the image, ghostly or not, of the canoe
    But what became of his beloved Chestnut, with metal strip down the keel, and grey blue
    Little is known where it ended up; maybe rotting at Mowat Lodge or on a portage trail?
    Years after Tom’s death, a local camp even tried to locate this canoe, but alas to no avail

    Painted using a mixture of regular marine grey and an artist’s $2 tube of cobalt blue
    There was little chance of mistaking Tom Thomson’s distinctive dove grey canoe
    Yet when it was found floating upside down in Canoe Lake
    Offshore and unattended, riding free in the wave’s wake
    Little could anyone have realized the great mystery about to unfold
    The legend and the lore of the man, the story that might never be told – Mike Ormsby
     
    Andy Hutyera likes this.

Share This Page