A Tom Thomson Sketching Location
Abstract: Thomson stayed at a cabin known as the Out-Side-In at Achray. Several of his sketches are from there. The following sketches appear to have been painted from the Out-Side-In or from very close by:
These two sketches are somewhat similar and may have been painted here:
In the summer of 1916, Tom Thomson worked as a fire ranger out of Achray. He was partnered with Ed Godin. When not out on patrol, they resided in a cabin known as the Out-Side-In. Thomson painted a sign, with that name on it, for the entrance.
Here are several sketches that match the view from the front porch of the Out-Side-In or perhaps from the beach in front. Currently (2015), the view from the front porch is somewhat obstructed by trees that have grown up in the last 100 years and thus our skyline photographs were taken from the beach in front.
View over a Lake, Autumn
Spring, Canoe Lake
Landscape, Algonquin Park
Hills and Swirling Sky
On the basis of the match with the background hills, it is difficult to argue that this sketch is from anywhere other than Achray and thus, was painted in 1916. Furthermore, on the back of this sketch is another small sketch which is of the big hill across the lake from Achray (see Hills and Swirling Sky (verso) below).
Hills and Swirling Sky (verso)
Hot Summer Moonlight
The next two sketches are similar but do not match as well in detail. If these paintings are indeed at Achray, it would indicate that Thomson was there before ice-out. Since this is before Thomson resided in the Out-Side-In, the location along the shore might be somewhat different.
The Last Snow, Algonquin Park
Landscape with Snow
Landscape with Snow was painted back-to-back on the same panel as Northern Mist. Northern Mist could be of Grand Lake but it is too generic to tell. However, if we accept one as being from Grand Lake, the other probably is as well.
Joan Murray's Tom Thomson Chronology for 1916 has Thomson visiting Huntsville in early March, then sketching and fishing with Lawren Harris, Lawren's cousin Chester Harris and Dr. MacCallum (Thomson's patron) at (Little) Cauchon Lake in late April/early May, and starting his fire ranging job in late May. We suspect that for at least some of the time between mid March and late April, Thomson was at Achray. In addition to The Last Snow, Algonquin Park and Landscape with Snow, (above) Thomson's presence at Achray early in the season is supported by the sketch, In Petawawa Gorges, Spring with a pencilled note on back, attributed to MacCallum:
Ice still present toward middle of April. Painted near mouth of Petawawa from Achray, Grand Lake.