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Industrial Algoma and the myth of wilderness : Algoma landscapes and the emergence of the Group of Seven,.. 1989

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INDUSTRIAL ALGOMA AND THE MYTH OF WILDERNESS: ALGOMA LANDSCAPES AND THE EMERGENCE OF THE GROUP OF SEVEN, 1918-1920 by Allan John Fletcher B.A., The University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1977 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES THE DEPARTMENT OF FINE ARTS ART HISTORY We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia November, v 1989 © A l l a n F l e t c h e r , 1989 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. 1 further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date QCTOGCfr <3, tiff- DE-6 (2/88) i i ABSTRACT In the summer of 1988, c a s t i n g around f o r a t h e s i s t o p i c , I chanced on some photographs which stunned me. They were p i c t u r e s of v a r i o u s s i t e s i n the Algoma t e r r i t o r y , a r e g i o n which up to t h a t time I, l i k e many Canadians, knew only from i d y l l i c p a i n t i n g s by J . E. H. MacDonald and other members of the Group of Seven. The d i s c r e p a n c y between the two s e t s of images was s t a r t l i n g . What the camera r e v e a l e d : r a i l y a r d s , dockyards, c i t i e s and towns, dammed r i v e r s , cavernous mines, mountains of s l a g , razed f o r e s t s , huge smelters and g i g a n t i c m i l l i n g o p e r a t i o n s was i n s t r i k i n g c o n t r a s t to the untouched northern w i l d e r n e s s d e p i c t e d i n works l i k e The? Solemn Land. I f e l t t h a t a r t h i s t o r i a n s had helped f o s t e r the i l l u s i o n t h a t Algoma was (and i s ) as pure and u n s u l l i e d as the Group d e p i c t e d i t . My t h e s i s , then, i s at i t s most b a s i c l e v e l an attempt to c o u n t e r a c t t h a t f a l s e impression and i n j e c t some balance i n t o the a r t h i s t o r i c a l r e c o r d . I t looks at the m y t h i c a l s t r u c t u r e s of the north and the wil d e r n e s s and s h i f t s i n t h e i r p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l and economic u t i l i t y i n the years j u s t a f t e r the Great War and t r i e s to l o c a t e Algoma p a i n t i n g s made between 1918 and 1920 within t h i s larger context. The phenomenon of Tom Thomson, the archetype of the "bush a r t i s t " i s considered as are issues of private and i n s t i t u t i o n a l patronage. Actual and potential audiences for Algoma art are examined, and a number of texts, promotional and c r i t i c a l are discussed. In the f i n a l chapter, four paintings, three by J. E. H. MacDonald and one by Frank H. Johnston are investigated and related to what I see as the primary task of much a r t i s t i c production at t h i s t i m e — t o harmonize Canadian culture with country's accelerating t r a n s i t i o n to a branch-plant economy. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS page INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER I: Algoma and the Myth of Wilderness 15 CHAPTER I I : "a new piece of country" 46 CHAPTER II I : Pictures and P o l i t i c s 62 CONSLUSION 105a. FIGURES 106 BIBLIOGRAPHY 118 V LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page 1. Wooden Trest l e at Mile 104 of the Algoma Central 106 Railway. 2. The L i t t l e F a l l . J. E. H. MacDonald, 1919 107 (28 by 36 ins., London Public Library and Art Museum, London, Ontario). 3. The M i l d R i v e r . J. E. H. MacDonald, 1919 108 (53 by 64ins., The Faculty Club, University of Toronto). 4. F i r s t Snow, A l g o m a . A. Y. Jackson, 1919-1920 109 (42 by 50 ins., McMichael Conservation C o l l e c t i o n , Kleinburg, Ontario). F i r e - S w e p t . A l g o m a , Frank H. Johnston, 1920 110 (50.25 by 66 ins., The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). 6. Algoma C o u n t r y , Lawren S. Harris, c. 1920 111 (40.25 by 50.75 ins., Art Gallery of Ontario). 7. F a l l s . M o n t r e a l R i v e r . J. E. H. MacDonald, 1920 112 (48 by 60.25 ins., Art Gallery of Ontario). 8. The Sol e m n L a n d , J. E. H. MacDonald, 1921 113 (48 by 60 ins., The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). v i 9. Algoma Steel's f i r s t r o l l i n g m i l l . 114 10. Michlpicoten Ore Dock. 114 11. This i s the type of caboose Harris had r e f i t t e d 115 for the boxcar t r i p s . 12. The sketching grounds of the Group of Seven 115 (Peter Mellen, The Group of Seven, 25). 13. Woodland W a t e r f a l l . Tom Thomson, 1916 109 (48 by 52 ins., Private C o l l e c t i o n , Toronto). 14. The Tangled Garden f J. E. H. MacDonald, 1916 110 (Oil on board, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would l i k e to express my appreciation to Dr. Caswell, the Department of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Graduate Studies for giving me the opportunity to re-enter the program after an enforced hiatus and complete the requirements for my degree. With respect to the research and writing of t h i s thesis, I am indebted to John O'Brian, my advisor, for his patience, encouragement and thoroughness and to Rose Marie San Juan, my second reader, for helping to bring the project to completion. The generous and indefatigable aid of the good people at I n t e r l i b r a r y Loan deserves special mention as does the gracious assistance I received from both c u r a t o r i a l and archival s t a f f at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Thanks are also in order to my fri e n d , Joseph Muise, who prepared the photographs and to my partner, Craig Tompkins for his understanding and support. 1 INTRODUCTION The north and the wilderness have been essential concepts in the attempt to define a d i s t i n c t i v e Canadian c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y . That pursuit began in earnest, according to most historians, immediately following World War One, and both words—"north" and "wilderness"—figured prominently in discussions of a kind of landscape art which favored wilder t e r r a i n over the pastoral views popular with wealthy c o l l e c t o r s . In l i g h t of the number of times the north is mentioned in discussions of twentieth century Canadian landscape painting, there have been few attempts to c l a r i f y , l e t alone define, i t s meaning. Undoubtedly, such vagueness has served the purposes of writers on art and writers on other subjects as well. For, without a s p e c i f i c , or even less amorphous, delineation, the term is stripped of p a r t i c u l a r i z e d s i g n i f i c a n c e and opened up to colonization by mental imagery which is frequently s t e r e o t y p i c a l , f a n t a s t i c or i d e a l i z e d . Crucial differences between the north as a geographic location (a r e l a t i v e one that varies according to the vantage point of the observer), the north as an idea (a construct separate from, but related to, i t s physical situation) and the north as a myth (a set of b e l i e f s which are c u l t u r a l l y determined and may have l i t t l e to do with 2 either geographic north or the abstraction used to represent a northern locale) are avoided in t h i s kind of writing. Although the mythical usage predominates in l i t e r a t u r e on art, the term i s often employed as i f a l l three designations were interchangeable. While the myth of the north may be invoked for sim i l a r reasons today, many i d e n t i f i c a t i o n s which were prevalent in the early decades of t h i s century have been modified or supplanted. Nonetheless, the a h i s t o r i c a l , universalized use of the construction, promoting as i t does the patently absurd notion that the phrase is understood in much the same manner at a l l times and in any circumstances, remains the rule, rather than the exception, in most writing on culture and the arts . I f e e l i t i s imperative, therefore, to raise the issue of language and i t s manipulation from the beginning of t h i s analysis because language i s the medium here, and because mythified speech i s inseparable from the art i t purports to "explain". Wilderness, as I mentioned e a r l i e r , i s a word which has frequently been (and continues to be) used in tandem with "the north". A contemporary d e f i n i t i o n construes i t as "a tr a c t of land or a region... uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings" or as "an empty or pathless area or region". 1 What was indicated by the term, wilderness, in "the nineteen teens" in urban Ontario, though, bears l i t t l e resemblance to 3 this more recent d e f i n i t i o n . David Silcox in Tom Thomson, The Silence and the Storm asserts that "'the North' generally meant any of the areas of the Precambrian S h i e l d " , 2 but in p r a c t i c a l terms, for middle class c i t y - dwellers, both words referred to something considerably more limited and something which was not necessarily outside of their experience. Algonquin Park, for instance, where Tom Thomson's best- known works were painted, was referred to in his l i f e t i m e , and for several decades after his death, as being in "the North". It was not a park in the usual sense but a game reserve, and a major reason for i t s creation (in 1893) by a pro v i n c i a l government anxious to accommodate business interests was to enable logging operations to proceed unimpeded by competition from s e t t l e r s and poachers. 3 One hundred f i f t y miles northeast of Toronto, Algonquin, as early as 1900, was close to a number of good-sized communities, and there was even a town, Mowat, located within i t s boundaries. By 1915, when Thomson was entering his most productive period, passengers entered the "park" on either of two railways; access to i t s i n t e r i o r was accomplished by means of more than a hundred miles of logging roads and v i s i t o r s had a choice of four hotels. 1* This was a part of the country, then, that was not esp e c i a l l y northern or distant or wild in the sense that 4 those adjectives are made use of today. Algoma, i f Toronto i s taken as the reference point, i s considerably further north than Algonquin Park. Industry arrived somewhat later in Algoma proper, but i t more than made up for i t s tardiness in d i v e r s i t y and magnitude. Since the 1890's, development had gone on there at an accelerated, almost f r a n t i c pace. Steamship lines got off to an early s t a r t s e r v i c i n g the eastern shore of Lake Superior, but some of the inland t e r r i t o r y proved nearly impassable. Therefore, tremendous amounts of money were spent by both the federal and p r o v i n c i a l governments to ensure completion of the Algoma Central l i n e which became known as "the a l l h i l l s and curves railway" (Fig. 1). When Lawren Harris made his f i r s t t r i p into the Algoma country with his friend Dr. MacCallum in the spring of 1918, Sault Ste. Marie was a growing c i t y , and Algoma industries, notably logging, mining, smelting and pulp and paper, employed thousands of workers. The name, Algoma, has come to be i d e n t i f i e d with a par t i c u l a r v i s i o n of the north a r t i c u l a t e d and refined in a series of pictures painted by J.E.H. MacDonald, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson and Frank Johnston in the years just after World War One (Figs. 2-8). Their Algoma i s vast, empty, rugged and powerful: a t h i c k l y wooded land of surging r i v e r s , rocky crags, p r i s t i n e lakes and scenic w a t e r f a l l s . 5 One notion above any other i s communicated through these images: that t h i s is a v i r g i n landscape, free from human intrusion. And yet, for most Ontarians at the time, Algoma would have summoned up a d i s t i n c t l y d i f f e r e n t set of associations. Prom the turn of the century, Algoma had been the s i t e of rapid i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n centered on the production of nickel and s t e e l , pulp and paper and fuelled by hydro-electric power from a number of massive generating stations. How then, can these c a r e f u l l y contrived wilderness vi s t a s be reconciled with the Algoma of resource extraction and heavy industry; of milltowns, steeltowns, lumber camps and miners' huts; of clearcuts, log chutes and chipyards; of orepits, smelters and foundries? Why did these painters stop including workers in their compositions after the War in favor of treatments of the north country as immense and uninhabited, devoid of any human reference? To whom would such works appeal, and why? Or, to put the question d i f f e r e n t l y , who were the patrons and who were the potential audience for a"doctored" version of t h i s much talked about part of the province? What set of circumstances made thi s type of mystification necessary and what purpose was i t intended to serve? 6 Toronto, Ontario and Algoma after World War One From 1900 to 1921, investment in manufacturing in Canada grew by 618.4 percent ( s i c ) . Most of t h i s growth occurred in Ontario, the nation's i n d u s t r i a l heartland and much of i t in Toronto, i t s e l f , the hub of factory production in the province. 8 The country as a whole had absorbed a greater i n f l u x of immigrants between 1911 and 1914 than at any other time in i t s h i s t o r y . 6 While B r i t i s h immigrants made up a smaller proportion of those applying than ever before and there were many more immigrants from other parts of Europe, most entrants from B r i t a i n who came from urban environments gravitated to eastern Canadian c i t i e s . This factor, and a similar tendency among Europeans of r u r a l o r i g i n to seek a familiar habitat, combined with government intervention (usually geared to the speci a l i z e d needs of industry) to ensure that Toronto remained res o l u t e l y Anglo- C e l t i c and Protestant. 7 At the apex of Toronto's s o c i a l hierarchy were fina n c i e r s , i n d u s t r i a l i s t s and speculators. One of the most succinct descriptions of these men and the extent of th e i r influence appears in a recent book by Christopher Armstrong and H. V. N e l l e s . 8 Admittedly, the period they're discussing i s an e a r l i e r one, around 1900 and the s i t u a t i o n nas d i f f e r e n t in several important respects, the most t e l l i n g divergence probably being an altered orientation to 7 the south brought about by Canada's mounting dependence on American markets and investment. Nonetheless, the image they evoke is authentic in most respects at t h i s later date as most of the key players remained in positions of power. Using an anthropological model, they c l a s s i f y Toronto, l i k e Montreal, as a " v i l l a g e " (in r e l a t i o n to London's f i n a n c i a l community which was generally referred to in business parlance as "the City") wherein f i s c a l a c t i v i t y was lar g e l y directed by one of two clans that dominated the commercial sector in Canada. 9 Toronto's centered around Senator George A. Cox and other prominent "elders" such as Byron Edmund Walker, then manager and later president of the Bank of Commerce, Joseph F l a v e l l e , the Methodist m i l l i o n a i r e who headed the Imperial Munitions Board during the F i r s t War and William MacKenzie, contractor, promoter and partner in Canada's t h i r d transcontinental railway. 3- 0 Armstrong and Nelles complete their p o r t r a i t by stressing the small size of this aristocracy of wealth in the two c i t i e s combined. "The core consisted of approximately fo r t y individuals, known to each other and in a few instances related by marriage." x l I refer to t h i s t i n y cadre of c a p i t a l i s t s early on because some appreciation of the degree of control they exercised over the Canadian economy (and Canadian society) is necessary before going on to consider the r e l a t i o n s h i p of 8 art i n s t i t u t i o n s and patronage to wilderness landscape painting in general and, s p e c i f i c a l l y , to Algoma scenes in the years 1919 and 1920. Toronto's r i s e to the status of national metropolis was based on i t s aggressive exploitation of the resources of the Canadian Shield. Increasingly prominent in economic and a r t i s t i c spheres, the northern part of the province was transforming p o l i t i c a l l i f e as well. Frank Cochrane, a Sudbury businessman, became the f i r s t northerner to hold a m i n i s t e r i a l post when he was given the newly formed Ministry of Lands, Forests and Mines by Premier Whitney in 1905. Following Borden's win over the Liberals in 1911, Cochrane, along with the many of the abler p r o v i n c i a l Tories, was enticed to Ottawa. In Cochrane's case, the plum was the prestigious Railways p o r t f o l i o and a cabinet appointment. Back in Toronto, fellow northerner, William Hearst, a lawyer from Sault Ste. Marie, whom Cochrane had taken under his wing, became the new Minister of Lands, Forests and Mines. From t h i s point, Hearst's r i s e to power was swift. Just three years l a t e r , in 1914, when Whitney's death forced an election c a l l , Hearst gained both the party leadership and the premiership in a matter of weeks. It was widely believed that Cochrane, considered by many the most adept Conservative t a c t i c i a n , had engineered Hearst's rapid ascent and that Hearst would take orders from Cochrane's o f f i c e in 9 the federal c a p i t a l . 1 2 Whatever the circumstances of Hearst's accession, during the f i v e years he held o f f i c e , from October, 1914 to October, 1919, the Tory machine in Ontario was weakened and the federal government assumed a measure of control in matters of regional concern which served to aggravate existing tensions. Laurier's Liberals had spent f r e e l y in the north, and the Borden regime had l i t t l e choice but to carry on despite the obvious fact that several of the enterprises into which both governments had sunk millions proved to be untenable. With an Algoman as premier and another northern Ontarian as the federal Minister of Railroads, i t i s p l a i n that the north was high p r o f i l e , high p r i o r i t y and highly p o l i t i c i z e d during these years. The period immediately after the War saw growing discontent among farmers and the working c l a s s . Farm incomes and re a l wages declined while corporate p r o f i t s soared, and the wealthy few engaged in an orgy of conspicuous consumption. Even though the number of unionized employees had decreased, X 3 r i o t s and s t r i k e s were on the r i s e and often harshly repressed. Farmers perceived ru r a l depopulation as a threat to t r a d i t i o n a l values in t h i s , the most urbanized province in Confederation, and the burgeoning agrarian revolt merged with labor discontent to bring down the Conservatives and establish a c o a l i t i o n 10 government late in 1919. Frank Cochrane, t i r e l e s s champion of northern interests, had died a month e a r l i e r , and, now, with Hearst's defeat, the United Farmers c a l l i n g the shots, Algoma Steel's output cut by half and northern workers mil i t a n t and r e s t i v e , the magical north was beginning to look considerably more mundane. In Ottawa, Borden's government and i t s business supporters had an "ace in the hole", however. The expansion of American newspapers had given r i s e to an unprecedented demand for Ontario pulp and paper making t h i s new industry the fastest growing in the Dominion. As a wellspring of i n s p i r a t i o n and hope for the future, the north was probably at i t s least convincing in lose to twenty years. x"* An integral component of conservative (and Conservative) ideology in Ontario for over a generation, that v i s i o n had impelled, and subsequently j u s t i f i e d , a public investment of staggering proportions. There was far too much at stake to l e t t h i s optimism wane, and given the apparent r e v i t a l i z a t i o n of the agrarian myth, a n t i t h e t i c a l to the modern entrepreneurial viewpoint (which espoused mass production and s c i e n t i f i c management over cooperation and s e l f - d i r e c t e d e f f o r t ) that prospect had to be taken seriously. Even a subtle tack to the l e f t was too great a ri s k because attention could be deflected southward away from the exploitation of f i n i t e assets and begin to focus on 11 smaller, more intensive (what might today be c a l l e d "sustainable") operations. Rhetoric had to be altered and i n t e n s i f i e d and an updated view presented capable of blending the e a r l i e r o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n into one which extolled a new economic order. I see the Algoma paintings and t h e i r promotional l i t e r a t u r e as operatives within this i n i t i a t i v e which was directed at maintaining confidence among the upper and middle classes in the f i n a n c i a l v i a b i l i t y of the northwest. These a r t i s t i c inventions, reassuring v i s u a l i z a t i o n s of a s i l e n t , l i m i t l e s s domain, untouched and r i c h l y endowed in resources, emphasize the immense spruce forests of the Shield country and i t s p l e n t i f u l supply of water. 1* Confidence and reassurance are the operative words here. Historians usually point to Canada's maturing national consciousness to j u s t i f y the Canadian desire to loosen Mother Bri t a i n ' s apron strings after the War, but the r e a l i z a t i o n that B r i t i s h weakness also spelled Canadian v u l n e r a b i l i t y , may be a more accurate, i f less palatable, explanation. Most of Canada's i n t e l l e c t u a l s t r i e d to r a t i o n a l i z e the switch from subservience to B r i t a i n to dependence on the United States as a step toward national autonomy, and restoring the imaginative potency of the north was a c r u c i a l component in t h i s exercise. The "new north", as a continental rather than a national f r o n t i e r became a 12 symbol for Canada's "coming into her own" as a North American nation. My thesis considers Algoma imagery as part of a program to revamp the north, to realign the hinterland to another m e t r o p o l i s . 1 6 While their involvement in the reorientation procedure i s complex, I w i l l argue that the Algoma paintings had two p r i n c i p a l objectives. F i r s t l y , they sought to register northwestern Ontario in the minds of metropolitan t r a v e l l e r s as a desirable d e s t i n a t i o n — a natural, peaceful and rejuvenating refuge--accessible by boat or r a i l from major c i t i e s on both sides of the border. Secondly, they took Algoma, probably the most up-to-date and mechanized i n d u s t r i a l sector in Ontario, as th e i r symbol of the new north, and redesigned i t to encourage Toronto's business class and i t s dependents that American d o l l a r s would continue to underwrite manufacturing in Canada. 13 NOTES 1 Webster's New International Dictionary, 3rd ed. (1971) s. v. "wilderness". 2 Harold Town and David P. Silcox, Tom Thomson, The Silence and the Storm (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, Ltd, 1977) 197. 3 Richard Lambert, Renewing Nature's Wealth: A Centennial History of the Public Management of Lands, Forests and W i l d l i f e in Ontario (Toronto: Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, 1967) 280. 4 Tom Thomson, The Silence and the Storm, 19 8 s Michael J. Piva, The Condition of the Working Class in Toronto, 1900-1921 (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1979) 4. e There were more than a m i l l i o n entrants, and, l a r g e l y as a res u l t of this wave of immigration, Toronto's population more than doubled from s l i g h t l y over 200,000 in 1901 to just under 450,000 two decades later.. The Canada Yearbook, 1916- 1917 (Ottawa, 1917) 112. 7 According to the 1921 census, ninety-three percent of the c i t y ' s inhabitants l i s t e d their place of o r i g i n as an English-speaking country and seventy-seven percent were Protestant. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921, Vol.1 (Ottawa, 1924) c i t e d in Piva, 9, 11. a Christopher Armstrong and H. V. Nelles, Southern Exposure: Canadian Promoters in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1896- 1930 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988. 9 The other was, of course, in Montreal. 1 0 Ibid., 4-9. 14 1 1 Ibid., 9. 1 2 Peter Oliver, "Sir William Hearst and the Collapse of the Ontario Conservative Party" in Public and Private Persons, The, Ontario P o l i t i c a l Culture, 1914-1934 (Toronto: Clarke Irwin and Company Limited, 1975) 21. X 3 Piva, 145. * + Previously, the reputation of northern Ontario probably h i t i t s lowest ebb with the cessation of i n d u s t r i a l a c t i v i t y in the Sault in September of 1903. I ' l l have more to say on th i s s i t u a t i o n and the events leading up to i t l a t e r . 1 S Spruce, because of i t s fibrous structure, i s ideal for conversion into pulp in giant mechanized m i l l s and a p l e n t i f u l supply of water i s required both to power the plant and to process the r e s u l t . 1 6 "Metropolis" i s used in the abstract. In r e a l i t y , several centers in the northeastern United States f i t the b i l l . As London dried up, American c r e d i t was increasingly important to Ontario. New York may have been pre-eminent, but there were other banks and consortia eager to invest in Canada. Algoma, for instance, was controlled from Philadelphia. 15 CHAPTER I: ALGOMA AND THE MYTH OF WILDERNESS There are d i f f e r i n g accounts of where the name "Algoma" originated. One version maintains that the word is Ojibwa for Lake Superior and another that i t translates as "the lake and the lands of the Algons" (one of the Algonquin t r i b e s ) . 1 Stretching north from Sault Ste. Marie along the eastern shore of Lake Superior, the wooded reaches of Algoma are d i f f e r e n t i a t e d from the surrounding Boreal forest belt by the va r i e t y of deciduous and evergreen species i t maintains. Lying within the Canadian Shield, a vast Precambrian formation of gneisses and granites which extends across Quebec, Ontario, northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and into the Northwest T e r r i t o r i e s , Algoma i s a rugged t e r r a i n of steep h i l l s , rushing r i v e r s , deep canyons and roaring waterfalls. Its dramatic topography and the d i v e r s i t y of i t s forests which res u l t in c o l o r f u l autumn displays made i t a popular destination for photographers and sightseers when i t was opened up by the railway in the 1890's. 2 Its aesthetic q u a l i t i e s have r a r e l y been the main at t r a c t i o n , however. P r o f i t has proven a more e f f e c t i v e lure, and the zone f i r s t assumed economic importance to European residents from the south when Pierre Radisson 16 discovered a large beaver population there in the 1650's. But, while Algoma yielded up beaver pelts in large quantities, i t s greatest value to the fur trade was the na v i g a b i l i t y of i t s waterways which made i t the most e f f i c i e n t transportation route between the northwest and Hudson Bay. With the decline of fur trading, Algoma returned to i t s previous condition--a sparsely inhabited backwater, home to a handful of hardy trappers and homesteaders. In 1858, the j u d i c i a l d i s t r i c t of Algoma was defined consisting of 12,558,969 acres, and by t h i s time, Algoma's timber and mineral resources were s t a r t i n g to be exploited. A l i t t l e over t h i r t y years l a t e r , however, the place would be more or less reinvented assuming an unprecedented preeminence as a national symbol. Clergue and the dream of the north Some elements of the Algoma myth--abundance, optimism and national f e e l i n g — o r i g i n a t e in the larger, more general concept of the northern f r o n t i e r ; in other words, the eff e c t that l i v i n g on the southern fringe of an almost boundless hinterland has had on our evolution as a nation. This is not to say that the metaphor of the garden (and the philosophy of agrarianism) have been irrelevant to Canadians. Their c r e d i b i l i t y and the i r influence have been 17 greatest on the p r a i r i e s and in southern Ontario, but, because neither could embrace the physical r e a l i t y of the Shield, they were never able to achieve the hegemonic lo y a l t y they commanded below the border. Instead, a non- a g r i c u l t u r a l , resource-driven doctrine supported by a p o l i t i c a l system which, after the B r i t i s h model, invested each governing body with the powers of a t r u s t , proved a formidable contender. As H. V. Nelles argues, in his seminal The P o l i t i c s of Development: Forests, Mines and Hydro-Electric Power in Ontario, 1849-1941, the wilderness in Canada is inseparable from the concept of the state ( c o l l e c t i v i s t , conservative). "Instead of the homesteading philosophy changing established ways of thinking of land in Ontario [as i t had in the United States] quite the reverse occurred. Interest groups and authoritarian i n s t i n c t s profoundly altered i t . " 3 Mining (especially of gold and s i l v e r ) and the lumber trade had proven p r o f i t a b l e in the l a s t decades of the s nineteenth century, but "the nineties" saw technology, e s p e c i a l l y hydro-electric power, being hailed as the key that would unlock the treasures of the north. As the twentieth century drew nearer, the terms "New Ontario" and "Empire Ontario" came into use r e f e r r i n g to what was then seen as the almost unlimited potential of the province's heartland, and the dream began to take shape. A sentence 18 from a report by Ontario's Minister of Crown Lands issued in 1899 provides an indication of the scope of these ambitions: "The resources of the New Ontario in s o i l , minerals, timber, water power and other raw materials of c i v i l i z a t i o n are extensive and valuable and quite capable of becoming the home of a hardy, t h r i f t y and prosperous people many mil l i o n s in number."4 It i s very l i k e l y that what was taking place in Algoma as the Minister wrote conditioned his extravagant prognosis for Ontario's i n t e r i o r . Over the next three years, u n t i l 1903, i t must have seemed that a magical transformation was taking place, capable of j u s t i f y i n g any amount of optimism. The romance of windfall p r o f i t s and the adventure of i n d u s t r i a l expansion had c r y s t a l l i z e d in the person of one Francis Hector Clergue, an American promoter who to many Ontarians embodied the New Ontario. Considering the l a s t i n g impact his i n i t i a t i v e s and their untimely demise would have on re l a t i o n s between government and industry, Clergue's story, as c o l o r f u l as i t i s , is not well known. Before crossing the border to Sault Ste. Marie in search of opportunities for wealthy American investors in the early 1890's, Clergue's entrepreneurial career was something less than i l l u s t r i o u s . Indeed, one of his biographers has observed that Clergue's ventures, both in the United States and abroad had collapsed with, in his 19 words, "monstrous r e g u l a r i t y " . 0 S t i l l , Clergue possessed a nearly i r r e s i s t i b l e capacity to convince, and by 1894 he had bought a defunct power plant on St. Mary's rapids from Sault investors and managed to make i t operative. It was t h i s hydro f a c i l i t y which would go on to fuel many of Clergue's m i l l s and smelting operations. Nelles has attempted to explain the potent s p e l l Clergue was able to cast over businessmen and p o l i t i c i a n s : "At the time, he was Ontario's only f u l l y animated *captain of industry' and he played the part with the boldness and audacity of the Robber Baron to be sure, but also with some of the endearing absurdity of Leacock's Idle Rich." 6 Another continuing aspect of i n d u s t r i a l Algoma has been, as I've suggested, government involvement. Clergue's corporate network at i t s peak in 1902 included pulp and paper, the Nickel Steel Company, the Lake Superior Power Company, the Canadian Electro-Chemical Company, the Algoma Central Railway, the Algoma Commercial Company (embracing interests from transportation and timber to r e a l estate and mining) and the Algoma Steel Company. It was c a p i t a l i z e d to the tune of 150 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s . George Ross, then premier of Ontario, could, and did, claim partnership in th i s colossal operation because, as Nelles phrases i t , the province "had p r a c t i c a l l y given away the iron ore and pulpwood that fed the huge integrated m i l l s and had lavished 20 cash subsidies, mineral-rich land grants and bond guarantees upon the rail r o a d s being l a i d to tap the resources and colonize the hinterland." - 7 Algoma as a national symbol As early as the end of 1902, the Clergue e d i f i c e was showing signs of serious i n s t a b i l i t y , and common shares in Lake Superior Consolidated were trading at less than a quarter the price they had commanded a few months e a r l i e r . The following spring, the complex was threatened with foreclosure and, in September of 1903, production at the Sault was suspended throwing 3500 men out of work.3 Because they had gone without pay for some time, r i o t s ensued, but in spite of t h i s seemingly hopeless scenario, i t would be two more years before Clergue's demise was complete. In the meantime, he turned his attention to lobbying for concessions from the Laurier Liberals who eventually, in 1904, granted t a r i f f protection of seven d o l l a r s a ton on imported s t e e l r a i l s to shelter the Lake Superior Steel Corporation from American competition. 9 Clergue's urgings also secured an agreement to back construction of the Michipicoten branch l i n e (providing harbor access to iron ore from the Helen Mine) at the rate of 30,000 d o l l a r s a m i l e . 1 0 21 Clergue's Consolidated Lake Superior Corporation was l i t t l e more than an unstable symbiosis brought together by the desire of Philadelphia investors to exact a p r o f i t from their investment and of Ontario p o l i t i c i a n s to see t h e i r v i s i o n of 'New Ontario' f l o w e r . 1 1 Neither over-extension, mismanagement nor insolvency could be permitted to dim the shining promise of the north, however. Algoma had come to represent national and regional aspirations to an extraordinary degree. Iron and s t e e l were considered the hallmark industries of a modern nation, and economic n a t i o n a l i s t s had advocated Canadian s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y in mining and production of those metals almost from the inception of the National P o l i c y . 1 3 For eighteen years, i t looked as i f high-grade deposits from the Helen Mine would f u l f i l l the f i r s t of these requirements, but, by 1918, they were exhausted and the dig was shut down. Despite t h i s setback, the manufacture of s t e e l , with or without native ore, was by t h i s point a c r u c i a l component of Canada's national image. Due to the boom in railway building, demand for r a i l s was high, and the Algoma Steel Corporation, the showpiece of Algoma industries, had a l l the earmarks of a successful enterprise. Every year but one (1909) between 1905 and 1915, Algoma m i l l s had r o l l e d the majority of r a i l s made in Canada and, therefore, since most cargo and passengers moved 22 on Algoma s t e e l , was l i t e r a l l y holding the country together (Fig. 9 ) . 1 3 Their performance in the War E f f o r t had contributed an aura of patriotism to the region and i t s f a c i l i t i e s as w e l l . 1 4 Algoma Trips, Background During the period between January, 1914 and September, 1918, when Algoma replaced Algonquin as their favored sketching ground, the f i v e painters who would later form the nucleus of the Group of Seven--MacDonald, Harris, Jackson, Lismer and Varley—were members of another confraternity. It has been referred to variously in the l i t e r a t u r e as the Algonquin Park School, the Algonquin School or the Algonquin Group. Their interest in that area appears to have been stimulated by the enthusiasm of th e i r friend and colleague Tom Thomson. Though Thomson f i r s t v i s i t e d the park in May, 1912, there i s no concrete evidence about the duration of his stay. The experience must have l e f t an impression, however, since he returned the following year to explore and sketch for nearly f i v e months. Ra i l t r a v e l by a r t i s t s expressly for the purpose of depicting wilderness had begun at least a generation e a r l i e r . Sir William Van Horne, president of the Canadian P a c i f i c Railway, was among the f i r s t to recognize how 23 e f f e c t i v e l y landscape art (sold or unsold) could generate p u b l i c i t y for s p e c i f i c Canadian locales. In 1886, he offered painters free passage through the Rockies as part of a scheme to at t r a c t t o u r i s t s to "the Canadian Alps" and the C. P. R.'s new luxury hotel at Banff. A closer p a r a l l e l , however, to the box-car t r i p s on the Algoma Central was a commission awarded by the Canadian Northern Railway in 1914. 1 B A. Y. Jackson, J. W. Beatty (another member of the Algonquin School) and C. W. Jeffreys, were sent to make sketches along a new section of the Northern's main l i n e . With the precedent of the C. P. R. as encouragement, these images when reproduced in company brochures would, i t was hoped, arouse interest i n , and increase ri d e r s h i p on, the f i n a n c i a l l y troubled "road". Like the f i r s t Algoma journey, the r e s u l t i n g works were brought together and displayed, in t h i s case at the Canadian National Exhibition, in 1915 and a small catalogue was produced. X 6 But unlike Algoma, no further paintings were undertaken since the corporation was restructured in the following year (1916) and nationalized. The Search for a Subject Harris received a medical discharge from the army in May of 1918, X 7 and almost immediately set off on an extended journey to res t , recuperate and do some sketching with his 24 friend, Dr. MacCallum. x s MacCallum and Harris had met around 1910, and since 1913, when he was introduced to Thomson, MacCallum had taken a keen interest in landscapes by Thomson and the painters around him. On the f i r s t leg, they t r a v e l l e d along the shore of Georgian Bay and over to Manitoulin Island, deciding to move on because, according to Dennis Reid, "Harris was d i s s a t i s f i e d with the landscape." X 9 From here, they s a i l e d across Lake Huron's North Channel to Cutler and took the C. P. R. to Sault Ste. Marie where they boarded the Algoma Central and headed north. They continued to Mile 129 where they put up for a few days at a logging camp before going on to Michipicoten Harbour, th e i r f i n a l d e s t i n a t i o n . 2 0 Why MacCallum and Harris chose to v i s i t Michipicoten just then is an int r i g u i n g question. About halfway up Superior's eastern shore at the end of Clergue's expensive spur l i n e , the port handled iron ore from the Helen Mine (Fig. 10). After a vein of native ore was uncovered there in 1897, the spot had been subjected to intense scrutiny. Two years l a t e r , geologists' reports confirmed the presence of the mineral and i t s exceptional purity. Clergue had f a c i l i t i e s in place to s t a r t extraction by the following year, and i n i t i a l returns were very encouraging. More than twenty times as much ore was recovered in 1902 than had been unearthed in the entire province three years before, and 25 respectable, i f less spectacular amounts were generated into the mid-teens when i t became evident that the motherlode had begun to peter out. Formerly a store of pride and encouragement for Ontarians, and Canadians in general, the mine had f i n a l l y been shut down in A p r i l , 1918. What the renowned and eccentric Toronto ophthalmologist and his affluent a r t i s t companion encountered only a month later must have been the f o r l o r n spectacle of i d l e equipment and empty dockyards. Was i t simply c u r i o s i t y that brought them there on the heels of a closure which dashed hopes for Canadian s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y in iron? Perhaps Harris and MacCallum f e l t that government support could be enlisted to bolster Algoma's public p r o f i l e and offset dwindling reserves, slumps in demand and actual or threatened bankruptcies. They had the example of Algonquin Park for encouragement. As good timber became scarce, the p r o v i n c i a l Tories scrambled to protect their investment by promoting wilderness t o u r i s m . 2 X More was at stake in Algoma, and both levels of government had a great deal r i d i n g on i t s future, wouldn't they, therefore, be even more interested in supporting v i s u a l art which advertised an Algoma that was ample, abundant and inviolate? 26 F i r s t Excursion Back in Toronto, Harris had preparations in place for the f i r s t of the two famous boxcar t r i p s by the end of August. He had procured a wooden-sheathed caboose (Fig. 11) from the beleaguered r a i l r o a d and had i t renovated and equipped with everything necessary for three weeks or more of sightseeing and sketching. There would be two additional companions th i s time. MacDonald and Johnston were joining MacCallum and Harris. Evidently, the whole system had been alerted to their forthcoming v i s i t and they would be able to make use of i t , more or less, at w i l l . "Harris also made arrangements [Dennis Reid r e l a t e s ] . . . f o r them to enjoy the pr i v i l e g e of being shunted from siding to siding by any passing freight t r a i n on the Algoma Central Railway." 2 2 The A. C. R. and i t s s i s t e r o u t f i t , the A. E. R. (Algoma Eastern Railway) had been insolvent since 1916 and now, two years l a t e r , were two m i l l i o n d o l l a r s in d e b t . 2 3 Surely, t h i s fact i s not irrelevant in explaining why company executives agreed with apparent a l a c r i t y to such an unorthodox proposition any more than Harris' wealth and s o c i a l standing should be l e f t out of the equation. But, neither Reid nor Mellen, the most widely read writers on the Group of Seven, raise either circumstance. 2 4 Indeed, 27 Mellen, mistaking Harris' excitement about the project for r e l i e f that he (Harris) hadn't been refused, recounts ingenuously "Somehow he had managed to persuade the r a i l r o a d to lend them a c a r . . . . " 2 3 On September 10 or 11, Dr. MacCallum and the three Toronto a r t i s t s took the Canadian P a c i f i c to Sault Ste. Marie where they s e t t l e d into their mobile studio before i t was moved on to Canyon, near the Agawa River, 113 miles north (Fig. 12). From there, they would be transferred to two other sidings: Hubert, not far from the f a l l s at Montreal River and, f i n a l l y , Batchewana, before returning to the Sault and home. Three elements of t h i s adventure s t r i k e me as peculiar and noteworthy. F i r s t , MacCallum's presence is interesting in i t s e l f , but the unconventional nature of the mission and i t s ambitious scale are also remarkable. 2 6 The question which comes immediately to my mind i s : are these factors related? Even though he maintains that the determination to r e v i s i t Algoma was arrived at j o i n t l y by Harris and MacCallum, Dennis Reid goes on to imply that Harris, alone, conceived and arranged the boxcar t r i p . 2 7 Why should MacCallum's input have ended at thi s stage? How can Reid be certain that he took no part in the preparations? Or, i s Reid conveniently s h i f t i n g MacCallum out of the limelight 28 whenever he appears to be exercising too much control and i t becomes necessary to reassert the "independence" of the a r t i s t ? Mellen's version of the same events arouses further skepticism. Perhaps both of these reconstructions are examples of art h i s t o r i c a l "sleight of hand", the object being to gain ground for Harris at the expense of MacCallum. Aside from some chronological c o n f u s i o n , 2 8 Mellen's chronicle i s similar to Reid's, but contrives a greater sense of immediacy by quoting from one of Ha r r i s 1 l e t t e r s . After his discharge from the army, Harris had gone to Georgian Bay and Manitoulin Island with Dr. MacCallum in the spring of 1918. From there, they took the t r a i n up to Sault Ste. Marie and then the Algoma C e n t r a l w h e r e they were v i v i d l y impressed with the scenery. Eager to return, Harris planned another t r i p and asked MacDonald to join him. A short time l a t e r he had more exciting news for MacDonald: "Well, James, Me boy, down on your knees and give great gobs of thanks to Allah! Sing his praises, y e l l t e r r i f i c h a l l e l u y a l i s [ s i c ] . That they may even reach into His ears—we have a car awaiting us on the Algoma Central! 1 ! " 2 S* Again, the t r a n s i t i o n from "they" to "he" is noticeably abrupt and serves to foster the i l l u s i o n that MacCallum i s temporarily out of the picture. Positioning Harris* facetious exhortation d i r e c t l y after a reference to MacDonald also has a predictable e f f e c t . The reader 29 assumes, q u i t e n a t u r a l l y , t h a t the "James" addressed i n the passage i s James Edward Hervey MacDonald, yet the words are taken from a l e t t e r H a r r i s wrote to James MacCallum. 3 0 What i s c l e a r , I t h i n k , i s t h a t MacCallum had a p a r t i n d e s i g n i n g t h i s scheme, as he had i n the past and would have i n the f u t u r e , and t h a t p l a n n i n g was r a r e l y , i f ever, done or a c t i o n taken without MacCallum's knowledge and probably h i s a p p r o v a l . Before proceeding, i t should be noted t h a t MacCallum's r e l a t i o n s h i p with H a r r i s was on a d i f f e r e n t plane from h i s i n t e r a c t i o n s with the other a r t i s t s . Though H a r r i s was r e s p e c t f u l of the o l d e r man's e r u d i t i o n , they came together as s o c i a l equals. Conversely, deference uss i n order from the r e s t of the p a i n t e r s whose o r i g i n s were humbler, and who had a l l been d e s i g n e r s and i l l u s t r a t o r s b efore a s p i r i n g to p r o f e s s i o n a l s t a t u s . Even with Thomson, as Joan Murray has observed, "the r e l a t i o n s h i p was a formal one. Thomson always c a l l e d MacCallum 'doctor', never J i m . " 3 X An enigmatic f i g u r e , always i n the background i n the l i t e r a t u r e on the Group, MacCallum's i n t e n t i o n s and a c t i o n s have escaped s e r i o u s s c r u t i n y . D e t a i l s about h i s l i f e and h i s d e a l i n g s with a r t i s t s are scant, and t h o u g h t f u l d i s c u s s i o n s of the i n i t i a t i v e s he pursued on t h e i r b e h a l f are, to my knowledge, n o n e x i s t e n t . C r i t i c a l and a r t h i s t o r i c a l w r i t i n g s have downplayed MacCallum's 30 p a r t i c i p a t i o n because that was exactly what i t was. Having eschewed the usual arm's length position that patrons t r a d i t i o n a l l y occupy, the good doctor has placed p u b l i c i s t s and commentators in an awkward position. Anything more than a cursory glance in his d i r e c t i o n runs the ri s k of unintentionally revealing a "home truth": that the patron- a r t i s t r e l a t i o n s h i p generally has more to do with power, class and money than with altruism and creative freedom. What stands to be compromised, of course, by means of such exposure i s the cherished f i c t i o n of a r t i s t i c autonomy. For students of art history, a catalogue compiled by Dennis Reid twenty years ago continues as the major source of biographical material on MacCallum. He, too, remarks that MacCallum has, i f anything, been conspicuous by his absence in contemporary accounts, and advances an explanation. His [MacCallum's] shadowy appearances in the l i t e r a t u r e of the period are seldom more than notices. This is probably because the story of the Group of Seven being an a r t i s t s ' story, the presence of a layman, no matter how important, must somehow seem extraneous. 3 2 This passage serves the cause of art, the overriding mythic en t i t y . Enforcing the boundaries of a r t , i t re i t e r a t e s that art's terms of reference are extraordinary 31 and belong exclusively to a separate and superior sphere which can, and must, be protected from contamination from less elevated arenas l i k e the marketplace. This is why the narrative of the Group of Seven, the most celebrated in Canadian a r t , has to be related by an o f f i c i a l narrator, an art h i s t o r i a n , who can ensure that the story of the Group of Seven remains "an a r t i s t s 1 story" and only an a r t i s t s ' story. Second Excursion On or around September 15 of the next year, 1919, a r a i l c a r was once more made available to the t r a v e l l e r s and the experience was repeated, following the same route as the year before. Jackson took MacCallum's place, however, so that a l l four participants were pr a c t i s i n g a r t i s t s . MacCallum's absence in t h i s instance is as mysterious as was his presence the year before, e s p e c i a l l y considering that he was asked to come up to Batchewanna for the f i n a l t h i r d of the i r stay. Apparently, he d e c l i n e d . 3 3 Perhaps, since Algoma had been accepted by the a r t i s t s , and preparations were under way for the f i r s t Group of Seven show, MacCallum opted for d i s c r e t i o n and elected to stay behind the scenes. 32 Algoma Sketches and Pictures As MacCallum was the Group a r t i s t s ' major private backer, so S i r Edmund Walker was their champion in the realm of art i n s t i t u t i o n s . It can be said, unequivocally, that Walker was the most powerful figure on the Canadian c u l t u r a l scene in 1919 and had been for a number of years. 3 - a President of the Bank of Commerce, chairman of the board of governors at the University of Toronto, founder and trustee of the Art Gallery of Toronto, trustee and f i r s t chairman (1913) of the National Gallery of Canada, he was a firm believer in the "improving" capacity of the a r t s . Walker began taking a serious interest in works by future Group painters in the summer of 1914 when a l e t t e r from Lawren Harris printed in the Globe prompted a v i s i t to the Studio B u i l d i n g . 3 B Here, he selected pictures by Harris, Jackson, Lismer and MacDonald for the National Gallery. Walker was the motive force behind the establishment of the Art Museum of Toronto, convincing ten of his associates to put up 5,000 do l l a r s each. In so doing they became o f f i c i a l Benefactors, and the g a l l e r y was e l i g i b l e for a grant of public money matching the t o t a l of their contributions. Crafted by Zebulon Lash, Canada's shrewdest corporate lawyer, the b i l l which gave the museum i t s legal 33 standing also entrusted i t s administration to a Council made up e n t i r e l y of Benefactors. "Thus," as Barbara Marshall sums up, "the future course of art in Toronto lay in the hands of wealthy businessmen." 3 S And they were some of the wealthiest and most i n f l u e n t i a l in Toronto's "inner sanctum"; George Cox, William Mackenzie, Joseph F l a v e l l e and Chester Massey were among the f i r s t to s u b s c r i b e . 3 7 Walker probably met Harris late in 1910 when the eminent banker, recently knighted, was invited to join the Arts and Letters C l u b . 3 3 It i s also possible that their paths crossed sooner since, as I've suggested, Toronto's upper crust was small and t i g h t l y k n i t . 3 9 After 1910 however, Walker became more c l o s e l y involved both with the Harris family and i t s business in t e r e s t s . The following year, 1911, he and Lloyd Harris, Lawren's cousin and Member of Parliament for Brantford, joined the "Toronto Eighteen". A l l of the "Eighteen" were prominent Liberals who defected en masse to Borden's Tories in order to bring down the Laurier government which favored r e c i p r o c i t y with the United States. T a r i f f s had brought American c a p i t a l , technology and expertise to the north, but they also helped protect the source of the Harrises' prosperity, the farm implement giant, Massey-Harris, from American competition. Walker supported the measure for a several reasons, not the least 34 of which was his sizeable investment in Massey-Harris. This, combined with his defection, were v i s i b l e proof of his l o y a l t y to the cause of Canadian manufacturing and translated into a voice in the company's operations. 4 0 A year l a t e r , in 1912, Walker took his seat on the board at Massey-Harris, an o f f i c e he retained u n t i l his death in March of 1924. 4 X MacCallum's acquaintance with Walker may also have begun at the Arts and Letters Club, but, considering Walker's longstanding a f f i l i a t i o n with the University of Toronto, there is a good chance they had encountered each other there some time e a r l i e r . 4 2 Walker cul t i v a t e d academics, perhaps because of his own lack of formal education, and MacCallum was a popular and c o l o r f u l professor. In addition, l i k e most native Ontarians of their class and generation, they were Imperialist in sympathies (nominally, at any rate) and conservative in o u t l o o k . 4 3 Yet, the subject of art was what usually brought them together and dominated communications between them. As early as 1913, MacCallum had sent three of Thomson's o i l sketches to Walker on a p p r o v a l . 4 4 From t h i s point on, MacCallum took every opportunity to advance the reputations of Thomson and his friends. By 1915, the doctor's persistence was beginning to pay o f f , and Jackson was able to comment in a l e t t e r to MacCallum that " i t looks as though 35 your l i t t l e conversations with Sir Walker J r . (sic) have not been in v a i n . " * 9 Walker's conversion, i f i t can be c a l l e d that, has to be attributed in large measure to the lobbying (in person at the Arts and Letters Club and through correspondence) of MacCallum and, to a lesser extent, Harris. Acting on behalf of the National Gallery, Walker was responsible for increased acquisitions of works by Thomson, Harris, MacDonald and Lismer from annual showings of the Ontario Society of A r t i s t s and displays at the Canadian National Exhibition over the next four years.* G Nor did the pressure l e t up during the later period, 1915-1919, when the press became an even more v i t a l component of their campaign. In t h i s venue, MacDonald, Jackson, MacCallum and Barker F a i r l e y kept the names of these painters highly v i s i b l e and t r i e d to convince private c o l l e c t o r s that they offered a viable alternative to the Dutch school. Well-known as a connoisseur of Dutch and Barbizon landscapes, these polemics l e f t Walker's personal taste r e l a t i v e l y unaffected, but evidently persuaded him that they could be appropriately included in the National Gallery's p u b l i c l y funded c o l l e c t i o n . Whereas government patronage continued to be the future Group's mainstay, smaller sales had been made to individuals p a r t i c u l a r l y at the two Exhibition(s) of L i t t l e Pictures by Canadian A r t i s t s in 1913 and 1914 at the Toronto Reference 36 L i b r a r y . - 1 7 Nonetheless, although they had managed to attr a c t a tiny, but l o y a l , following of middle class i n t e l l e c t u a l s , they had yet to entice a single m i l l i o n a i r e , w i l l i n g enough to pay thousands for a Weissenbruch or a Van Loon, to take a chance on one of their modestly priced canvases. The Algoma Exhibition may have been conceived, in part, as an opportunity to a l t e r t h i s state of a f f a i r s in 1919. 4 8 Although the rationale underlying Walker's organization of the show i s , in a l l p r o b a b i l i t y , impossible to reconstruct, I can't help f e e l i n g that the subject merits consideration. Reid condenses the story into a single sentence—a simple, "statement of f a c t " — i n which events unfold sequentially, l o g i c a l l y , inexorably. "The f i r s t box- car t r i p [he writes] was f e l t to be a great success by the a r t i s t s , involved, and i t gained them the support of Sir Edmund Walker, who arranged for an exhibition of the Algoma works to be held at the Art Gallery of Toronto. ""*9 Imperial allegiance waned after the War, since the United States had intervened in 1918 and helped to turn the t i d e , and, during the c o n f l i c t , American c a p i t a l had flooded into Canada. Subsidiaries of mammoth American corporations, once established north of the border, could ship goods anywhere in the Empire as Canadian-made, thus securing p r e f e r e n t i a l treatment. This was due in no small measure to the t a r i f f wall which Walker had vociferously defended. 37 With New York fast replacing London as the country's main supplier of c r e d i t , a reorientation was in progress that neither Walker nor his associates could afford to ignore. One motivation for mounting the show could have been the sense of obligation Walker must have f e l t concerning the federal government's na t i o n a l i z a t i o n of the Canadian Northern Railway. By 1916, the Bank had advanced more than twenty-eight m i l l i o n d o l l a r s to the li n e ' s owners William Mackenzie and Donald Mann, and, unable to recover i t s c a p i t a l on the London bond market, would have faced collapse without the intervention of Parliament. Given the extent of federal indebtedness in Algoma, th i s may have some bearing on why Walker, one of very few who had consistently denied Clergue's peti t i o n s a decade and a half e a r l i e r , s o should have agreed at t h i s later date to launch an exhibit celebrating the region. Something should also be said about the Art Museum of Toronto before continuing on to appraise the structure and content of the exhibition. A firm d i s t i n c t i o n must be drawn between introducing works in a c i v i c forum l i k e the Toronto Reference Library and presenting them in the Art Museum of Toronto, nominally a public g a l l e r y but, in a c t u a l i t y , a sort of private fiefdom. As stated previously, apart from , construction costs, the administration of the Museum was completely in the hands of Walker and his cronies. This 38 meant that accessions were dependent on a consensus being achieved among r i c h and cautious acquisitors who had so far resisted a l l the blandishments of the wilderness landscape crew and the i r propagandists. In her thesis on the gallery's evolution, Susan Lowery evokes the s t o l i d resolution that shaped i t s p o l i c i e s : " . . . i t was by design that the Art Gallery of Toronto developed i t s philosophy of allowing time to test the v a l i d i t y and the qu a l i t y of new art movements."51 39 1 N. and H. Mika, Places in Ontario, their name origins and history ( B e l l e v i l l e , Ont.: Mika Publishing Co., 1977-1983) 1: 39, 41. 2 By 1916, Algoma r a i l l i n e s had f a i l e d to l i v e up to t h e i r exaggerated potential and, in spite of attempts at reorganization, the Algoma Central and the Algoma Eastern were forced into bankruptcy. These were only the most recent examples in a long l i n e of commercial disasters in the t e r r i t o r y , the results of o v e r c a p i t a l i z a t i o n and mismanagement, which had t h e i r genesis in the l a s t century. 3 H. V. Nelles, The P o l i t i c s of Development: Forests, Mines and Hydroelectric Power in Ontario, 1849-1941 (Toronto: Macmillan Company of Canada, Ltd., 1974) 45. 4 Ontario Department of Crown Lands, Annual Report,1899 quoted in Ian Radforth, Bushworkers and Bosses: Logging in Northern Ontario, 1900-1980 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987) 14. The phrase "raw materials of c i v i l i z a t i o n " i s an accurate summation of the prevalent attitude to nature during t h i s period. s Donald Eldon, "The Entrepreneurial Career of Francis H. Clergue", Explorations in Entrepreneurial History ( A p r i l , 1951) 254-268, quoted in Duncan McDowall Steel at the Sault: Francis H. Clergue, Sir James Dunn and the Algoma Steel Corporation, 1901-1956 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984) 30. 6 Nelles, 57. 7 Nelles, 133. a Ibid., 134. 9 McDowall, 37. 1 0 Ibid., 43. 1 1 Ibid., 44. 40 1 2 William Hamilton Merritt who sat on the Royal Commission on the Mineral Resources of Ontario, struck in 1885, who was d i s s a t i s f i e d with i t s recommendations, remarked: "We cannot point to any nation in the world that amounts to anything which does not manufacture i t s own iron and s t e e l " ( N e l l e s , 127). The country's f i r s t prime minister, John A. MacDonald introduced the National P o l i c y in 1879. Its singular feature at th i s stage was the doubling of protective t a r i f f s , a measure intended to guarantee safe domestic markets for Canadian-made goods. 1 3 McDowall, 50. x " Throughout World War One, Algoma Steel had consistently outperformed more than four hundred other munitions producers, and Joseph F l a v e l l e had enthused about i t s " p a t r i o t i c " contribution to Prime Minister Borden. ( S t a t i s t i c s on Algoma Steel's wartime capacity are taken from Lake Superior Corporation, Annual Reports, 1916-1919 and c i t e d in McDowall, 61. F l a v e l l e ' s comment i s from a l e t t e r to Borden, 5 Jan., 1917 which i s quoted on the same page.) x s Details on t h i s episode are few. Jackson's economical r e t e l l i n g i s found on pp. 35-37 of his A Painter's Country. Other sources are Kingston, Ontario, Queen's University, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, J. W. Beatty, 1869-1941, 1981 (text by Dorothy M.'Farr) 28-29 and Banff, Alberta, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, A Wilderness for A l l : Landscapes of Canada's Mountain Parks, 1885-1960 (text by Elizabeth Brown) 10. x s A reproduction of the catalogue i s contained in Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada Library, Canadian Art Microdocuments, A. Y. Jackson. 1882-1974, 1980. 1 7 Ottawa, The National Gallery of Canada, The Group of Seven, June 19-Sept. 8, 1970. Text by Dennis Reid, 127. 1 8 Dr. James MacCallum was an alumnus of the University of Toronto who went on to study ophthalmology in London, England. He taught at the University's School of Medicine u n t i l 1929 and maintained a t h r i v i n g private practise. 41 X 9 Ibid. Reid quotes only secondary sources as corroborative material that Harris, alone, was unimpressed with the Island and doesn't entertain the notion that MacCallum may have engineered the foray to search for a new base of operations for his associates. If my scenario is accepted for the moment, i t i s reasonable to suppose that both Harris and MacCallum would have rejected Manitoulin as an alternative to Algonquin Park for several reasons. In a passage from his c o l l e c t i o n , Forever on the Fringe: Six Studies in the Development of Manitoulin Island (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982, 140) W. R. Wightman encapsulates them admirably: . . . l i k e other a g r i c u l t u r a l l y viable areas of the Upper Lakes, the Manitoulin slipped into a quiet backwater of public interest [after 1900]....Found wanting in the resources in vogue, i t was....a picturesque place where one might vacation under some vague i l l u s i o n of the natural. Yet l i k e the resident population, such v i s i t o r s may have recognized the Manitoulin for what i t had become: an established r u r a l cUT 6 cl • • • • 2 0 My version follows Reid's reconstructions in The MacCallum Bequest and The Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Jackman G i f t , Jan. 25-Feb. 23, 1969 (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada. Text by Dennis Reid) 25 and Group of Seven, 127. 2 1 Jackson described Algonquin as "a ragged country; a lumber company had slashed i t up and f i r e had run through i t . Then the lumber company had gone bankrupt... and now [1914] a l l that was l e f t of the m i l l was the old boarding house that the Frasers ran."(A. Y. Jackson, A Painter's Country, The Autobiography of A. Y. Jackson (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin and Co. Ltd., 1958) 35) This was the t y p i c a l s i t u a t i o n of southern wooded lands since a l l of the good stands of pine and other softwoods had been used up by the turn of the century, but the lands had been rendered accessible to hunters, fishermen and other vacationers. 42 Promulgating a wilderness ethos for Algonquin Park had resulted in the sale of Thomson's Northern Lake to the Ontario government in 1913 encouraging him and the others to concentrate on such scenes. Subsequently displayed at the Ontario Society of A r t i s t s (0. S. A.) Exhibitions and reviewed in the press, they provided valuable p u b l i c i t y for a part of the province which, though served by road and r a i l , was generating l i t t l e revenue. The p o s s i b i l i t y , even l i k e l i h o o d , that these paintings had a promotional aspect has, in spite of the fact that most were produced by two painters (Thomson and Jackson) who had recently turned professional and three others who continued to take on commercial work to support themselves is never entertained in the l i t e r a t u r e . Reid does suggest, however, that Thomson's e a r l i e r journey by canoe with William Broadhead through the Missisauga Forest Reserve could have been embarked on as a photographic assignment for a magazine (Group of Seven, 52). 2 2 Group of Seven, 128. 2 3 McDowall, 65. 2 4 Peter Mellen, The Group of Seven (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, Ltd., 1970), a large, l a v i s h l y produced volume with many f u l l page color plates, was released in the same year as Dennis Reid's extensive and scholarly exhibition catalogue to mark the f i f t i e t h anniversary of the Group's f i r s t show. Re l a t i v e l y u n c r i t i c a l in perspective, both remain useful additions to the f i e l d , but Reid's exposition is more detailed and generally speaking, more accurate. 2 S Mellen, 80. Harris' a n t i c i p a t i o n i s expressed in a l e t t e r quoted on the same page. 2 6 The term "scale" refers to the prodigious amount of work carried out. 2 7 "Lawren Harris was c l e a r l y responsible for i n i t i a t i n g and organizing the f i r s t box-car t r i p to Algoma in September 1918." Group of Seven, 128. 43 2 8 He confuses the 1918 and 1919 t r i p s . 2 9 Mellen, 80. See Mellen, 219, footnote 53. 3 1 Joan Murray, The Best of Tom Thomson (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers Ltd., 1986) v i . 3 2 MacCallum/Jackman, 25. 3 3 Group of Seven, 138. 3 A Given his wide-ranging interests and the extent of his influence, i t is surprising and somewhat disturbing that the only f u l l - l e n g t h published biography of Walker was written in 1933. This is what makes Barbara Marshall's thesis on Walker so valuable. For a broader perspective on Walker's energetic involvement with the country's f l e d g l i n g museums and art g a l l e r i e s , see her f i n a l chapter, 'Lord of Art at the Public Expense' in "Sir Edmund Walker, Servant of Canada" (Master's Thesis, University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1971) 74-103. 3 S Harris' l e t t e r c i r c u l a t e d in the June 4, 1914 issue of the Globe. Funded mainly by Harris with some assistance from MacCallum, the Studio Building was intended to supply l i v i n g and working space to a r t i s t s . It opened i t s doors in January of 1914. Thomson and Jackson were among i t s f i r s t tenants. 3 6 Marshall, 93. 3 7 Marshall, 137, footnote 89. 3 8 Ibid., 97. 44 3 9 Both families maintained summer residences at Lake Simcoe, for instance. Walker's at De Grassi Point was much more imposing however, taking in some 600 acres. Marshall, 20. 4 0 Walker's holdings in shares and bonds were valued at just under one m i l l i o n d o l l a r s in 1909, and the largest single amount, $195,000, was invested in Massey Harris. Ibid, 30. This boardroom presence was to prove an asset to Alfred Walker, one of four sons, who later obtained an executive position with the firm. Ibid., 20. 4 1 I have accepted M e r r i l l Dennison's date of 1912 for the s t a r t of Walker's directorship, but the year he says Walker stepped down (1925) i s harder to swallow. Harvest Triumphant, The Story of Massey-Harris (Toronto: C o l l i n s , White C i r c l e Pocket Ed i t i o n , 1949) 308. 4 2 Walker occupied various positions in the governing bodies of the university from 1892 on. He was chairman of the board of governors from 1910 to 1923. Ibid., 79. 4 3 MacCallum was, as were most professors, circumspect about his p o l i t i c a l a f f i l i a t i o n s , and I've been unable to discover whether or not he a c t u a l l y belonged to the Conservative party. 4 4 Letter from S i r Edmund Walker to Dr. James MacCallum, . Toronto, 8 December, 1913. S i r Edmund Walker C o l l e c t i o n , Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, Box 22. 4 B Letter from A. Y. Jackson, E m i l e v i l l e , to Dr. James MacCallum, Toronto, 23 A p r i l , 1915. National Gallery of Canada, quoted in Group of Seven, 87. 4 6 Group of Seven, 88-89. Of the three "core members" of the Group only MacDonald was exhibiting in Toronto after the spring of 1916. Jackson and Harris had both enlisted (Jackson in the summer of 1915). 45 •*'7 Exhibition space in the c i t y was very limited, and the si t u a t i o n didn't change s u b s t a n t i a l l y u n t i l the new Art Gallery of Toronto (which included The Grange, home to the Art Museum of Toronto since the year before) opened in 1919. 4 8 Two other events: the Society of Canadian Painter Etchers and William Cruikshank, R. C. A. were seen concurrently and outlined in the same program. MacDonald and Johnston both studied under Cruikshank. Could t h i s have been presented as an opportunity to compare the upstarts with their roots? Or, perhaps these t r a d i t i o n a l and academic offerings were expected to draw viewers who would otherwise have shied away from more daring pictures. 4 9 Group of Seven, 128. B O McDowall, 44. S 1 Susan J. Lowery, "The Art Gallery of Ontario, Pattern and Process of Growth: 1872 to 1966" (Master's Thesis, Concordia University, 1985) 193. What i s now the Art Gallery of Ontario was o r i g i n a l l y the Art Museum of Toronto, a name i t kept u n t i l 1919 (sometime after the Algoma E x h i b i t i o n ) , when i t became the Art Gallery of Toronto. 46 CHAPTER II: "A NEW PIECE OF COUNTRY" Fai r l e y ' s Preview In t h i s section, how the boxcar t r i p s and the Algoma region were constructed in two texts w i l l be investigated. F i r s t , I ' l l examine a preview of Algoma Sketches and Pictures by Barker F a i r l e y , the most a r t i c u l a t e apologist for the "new" s t y l e of wilderness landscape painting, which appeared in the A p r i l , 1919 issue of The Rebel. 1 Then I ' l l go on to look at how the a r t i s t s themselves characterized th e i r e f f o r t s in the introduction to the exhibition catalogue. My purpose i s to demonstrate how MacDonald, Harris, Jackson, Johnston and th e i r supporters t r i e d to shape perceptions of the area and influence the reception of their work. This exercise i s , in part, an e f f o r t to redress the near t o t a l neglect of such topics in the l i t e r a t u r e on Algoma pictures. In the l i t e r a t u r e , a generalized, idealized and e s s e n t i a l l y dehumanized v i s i o n of Algoma f o r e s t a l l s consideration of Algoma as a limited and vulnerable physical environment. 47 F a i r l e y ' s essay is e n t i t l e d "Algonquin and Algoma", even though he makes no reference to Algoma u n t i l the second l a s t page and mentions the region by name only once, in the f i n a l paragraph. A l l o t t i n g the word equal weight in the t i t l e but l i t t l e space in the piece i t s e l f promotes a sense of a n t i c i p a t i o n which F a i r l e y may have hoped would transfer to the exhibition i t s e l f . Yet, there i s more involved, I f e e l , in F a i r l e y ' s choice of t h i s mellifluous appellation than the desire to intrigue. Given that each of the fiv e future Group of Seven painters mentioned in the a r t i c l e was i d e n t i f i e d in one way or another with Tom Thomson and Algonquin Park, F a i r l e y appears (and i t ' s safe to assume, I think, a degree of consensus between a r t i s t s and writer) to be playing the role of h i s t o r i a n by marking the end to one period and announcing the beginning of another. It is more than l i k e l y that the strong connection between these a r t i s t s , Algonquin Park and Tom Thomson would have become a l i a b i l i t y had they continued to paint there after Thomson's death. Because Thomson was irrevocably i d e n t i f i e d with the area, 2 MacCallum and Harris were impelled to find another part of the province, less familiar to t o u r i s t s , and as d i f f e r e n t from Algonquin Park as possible. That d e c i s i o n — t o s h i f t the attentions of their c i r c l e away from Algonquin to the more remote and northerly Algoma region—meant that Thomson's renditions were 48 entrenched as the d e f i n i t i v e statements on Algonquin Park which, not i n c i d e n t a l l y , increased the r a r i t y and hence the value of what was now a f i n i t e body of images. A valuable asset to the other a r t i s t s , the Thomson mystique had begun, since the drowning, to assume legendary proportions. 3 Yet, in order for prospective Group painters: Harris, MacDonald, Johnston, Jackson (and to a lesser extent, Carmichael, Lismer and Varley) to p r o f i t from Thomson's burgeoning reputation, their public, e s s e n t i a l l y the same as Thomson's, had to be persuaded to accept a more distant and rugged locale. F a i r l e y names f i v e a r t i s t s in "Algonquin and Algoma": Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson. Frank Johnston, Frank Carmichael and J.E.H. MacDonald, who, in his opinion, represent the progressive element in a r t . Ignoring the usual associations of these painters with Algonquin, F a i r l e y refers to them instead as the "group of 'radicals'and 'northerners' about whom controversy turns". 4 This strategy t r i e s to distance them from the Park which had, since Thomson's death, attracted unprecedented numbers of v i s i t o r s , and from Thomson's work, now in demand and fetching premium p r i c e s ; 3 a s i t u a t i o n which threatened to eclipse their own a c t i v i t i e s and creative output. Reserving his most powerful language for Harris, Jackson and MacDonald, 6 F a i r l e y singles out Harris' In the Ward Three 7 49 for " i t s almost h o s t i l e blaze of inner l i g h t " , and i n s i s t s that Jackson's Spring, Lower Canada "hits the target with amazing swiftness and economy."8 However, i t is MacDonald and his The Wild River, an Algoma subject, which inspire F a i r l e y ' s most resounding vote of confidence (as a rejoinder to what he terms " c r i t i c i s m which might have been more i n t e l l i g e n t or t e n t a t i v e . " ) 9 According to F a i r l e y , Macdonald i s a painter of "known v e r s a t i l i t y and power" "who can saturate his pictures with weather... c r i n k l i n g them with blown a i r , drenching them with moonlight, or smearing them with f i e r c e sun...." 1 0 In his conclusion, F a i r l e y touts the Algoma show, the opening of which coincided with the publication of his a r t i c l e . 1 1 "Any who wish to understand and study the recent work of Harris, Johnston and MacDonald should on no account miss the e x h i b i t i o n . . . . " 1 2 Art and a r t i s t s of t h i s c a l i b r e , F a i r l e y i s asserting, are worthy of scholarly d e l i b e r a t i o n . Those among The Rebel's readers who approach the Algoma works with the same earnest dedication they devote to great l i t e r a t u r e w i l l be amply rewarded. Aside from MacCallum, the only private patrons these a r t i s t s had so far enjoyed were a handful of middle class professionals and bureaucrats who had expressed an interest in b r i g h t l y colored, heavily patterned, s e l f - consciously "modern" landscape a r t . 1 3 Here, in the pages of The Rebel, a p e r i o d i c a l devoted in part to forming the taste 50 of potential consumers of culture, F a i r l e y is making use of thi s e x i s t i n g base to enlarge the a r t i s t s ' audience and perhaps gain e l i t e patronage. Both of these i n i t i a t i v e s , i t seems apparent, were major considerations, while leaving Algonquin Park to head north has to be seen, as I've indicated, as an attempt to c a p i t a l i z e on the success of the "Thomson formula". 1'* It should be kept in mind too that MacCallum was a c t i v e l y involved in promoting Thomson's work, and that his a r t i c l e on Thomson had appeared in The Canadian Magazine, the nation's most exclusive Anglophone c u l t u r a l journal, just f i v e months e a r l i e r . Yet another factor which rendered Algoma an a t t r a c t i v e choice, as I've also mentioned, was the desperate s i t u a t i o n of the Algoma Central Railway. Harris l i k e l y discovered that h i r i n g one car among many in the company's unused r o l l i n g stock offered a number of advantages. The cost of renting and r e f i t t i n g the conveyance must have been considerably less than i t would have been with a r a i l r o a d in better f i n a n c i a l shape, and company o f f i c i a l s and employees almost c e r t a i n l y went out of their way to f a c i l i t a t e an excursion which might draw attention to their firm as well as to the region. A concise primer enabling the neophyte viewer to distinguish " r e a l " landscape from simple decoration is another part of F a i r l e y ' s mandate. Emphasizing the serious 51 and cerebral q u a l i t i e s of landscape painting of t h i s s t r i p e , instruction is provided on the appropriate attitude to bring to such an event as well as information on what the spectator should expect to find there. But the l a s t , and perhaps the most important, service F a i r l e y provides i s to explain the show's broader implications, to contextualize i t by making p l a i n i t s position as the l a t e s t stage in the linear progression he proposes as the history of modern Canadian landscape a r t . Possibly too i t [the exhibit] w i l l have h i s t o r i c a l s i gnificance showing how some of our pioneers in landscape have moved westward, leaving the s o l i d straightforwardness of that other pioneer, J. W. Beatty and the curiously s t a t i c imagination of Tom Thomson to interpret the stealthy sombreness of Algonquin Park and s t r i k i n g into a new region of ups and downs, waterfalls and canyons." x s While the g i s t of F a i r l e y ' s assertion i s r e a d i l y understood, a close reading reveals a r i c h l y a l l u s i v e and oddly enigmatic passage. Clearly, c e r t a i n men previously a f f i l i a t e d with the Algonquin Park School are being promoted as a vanguard, oriented to the future, while others are praised for their contributions to the movement but firmly relegated to the past. To highlight the boldness of t h e i r endeavor and point up the d i s t i n c t i o n between the "adventurers" and the "stay at homes", F a i r l e y t r o t s out the 52 pioneer analogy once more, but, th i s time, in an even more romantic context. To the well-worn specter of the North, he appends the fresh, young (American?) image of the western f r o n t i e r frequently i d e n t i f i e d with energy, i n i t i a t i v e , innovation and optimism. 1 6 Because of Beatty's early enthusiasm for wilderness themes including Algonquin Park and the influence his work exerted on Thomson's early e f f o r t s , acknowledgement i s almost unavoidable, yet Fai r l e y ' s comment regarding Beatty's " s o l i d straightforwardness" 1 7 can scarcely be seen as complimentary. After a l l , F a i r l e y i s assigning the job of interpreting the Park to two a r t i s t s : to Beatty, s t i l l a l i v e and vigorous, and to "the curiously s t a t i c imagination" of Tom Thomson, dead for almost two y e a r s . 1 6 L i t e r a l coherence in th i s peculiar utterance, i t appears, has been compromised for the sake of i m p l i c i t meaning. The message, though, remains intact: Algonquin Park as subject matter for painters is moribund, as incapable of resuscitation as Thomson himself. To th i s end, F a i r l e y has crafted a conclusion which enhances the impact of t h i s sentence as a l i t e r a r y device by framing i t between his poetic t r i b u t e to MacDonald's painting a b i l i t y and a further exciting development; "the response of three d i f f e r e n t f u l l y developed i n d i v i d u a l i t i e s . . . s t r i k i n g into a new region of ups and downs waterfalls and canyons." 1 9 Both 53 Beatty and Thomson were, by implication, not as " f u l l y developed" as th e i r successors, and painting in the Park comes off as contained and lackluster compared to the Algoma experience. Even before Thomson's tr a g i c demise, Algonquin had a f o r l o r n quality, but now, in the aftermath, with adjectives such as "sombre" and "stealthy", F a i r l e y evokes an atmosphere that is sull e n and f a i n t l y t r o u b l i n g . 2 0 Discovered early in the century by the Toronto Art Students League, Algonquin Park had long been a magnet to metropolitan a r t i s t s , 2 1 while Algoma had r a r e l y been depicted. It was as F a i r l e y c a l l s i t "a new piece of country", a fresh canvas r e l a t i v e l y unhampered by a r t i s t i c precedents. To avoid alienating a l l or part of his friends' audience, F a i r l e y made use of a familiar technique. He fashioned a t e l e o l o g i c a l structure capable of lending, not merely a sense of continuity, but an a i r of authority and an aura of i n e v i t a b i l i t y to what was, in i t s simplest terms, a c a r e f u l l y planned and pragmatic career move. Such cautious yet elegant manoeuvres on F a i r l e y ' s part provide an indication of why he remained the Group's u n o f f i c i a l h i s t o r i a n u n t i l their future was more or less assured. 54 The Catalogue Algoma Sketches and Pictures was held at the Art Museum of Toronto between A p r i l 19 and May 26 of 1919. It consisted of one hundred forty-four pieces in a l l , ranging from t i n y sketches to large finished canvases. To accompany the exhibition, as was the custom, a small pamphlet containing a b r i e f introduction and a c h e c k l i s t of paintings was printed. Considering that i t sets out a program for viewing which the a r t i s t s themselves presumably devised and favored, and taking into account that most v i s i t o r s and reviewers availed themselves of document i s , I think, a r e v e a l i Algoma's i n t e r i o r was acce require an outdoorsman 1s s k i l l s the glamor of a foray into a pa majority of c i t y dwellers had o Nonetheless, the r a i l - c a r was a and the modern world, elements rigorously excluded from Thomso School's public image. 2 3 To he departure, emphasis may have be they supposedly endured for the t r a v e l l e d and l i v e d in an old f stove, bunks, etc." 2 -" these instructions, the ng one. 2 2 s s i b l e by means that didn't but, nonetheless, retained r t of the north which the nly heard of or read about. reminder of mechanization which had previously been n's and the Algonquin Park lp compensate for t h i s en placed on the privation sake of a r t " : ...the a r t i s t s reight car, f i t t e d with a 55 Hardiness and determination, character t r a i t s ascribed to the pioneer, are pointed up here just as a s p i r i t of adventure and a sense of national pride are c a l l e d into the service of the a r t i s t in t h i s later quote: "The whole c o l l e c t i o n may be taken as evidence that Canadian a r t i s t s generally are interested in the discovery of t h e i r own c ountry." 2 0 A t h i r d more t r a d i t i o n a l element is also incorporated into t h i s "personality c o c k t a i l " : the romantic stereotype of the sensitive and sincere creator suffering the h o s t i l e barbs of uninformed and heartless reactionaries. Although r a i l t r a v e l into Algoma had f a i l e d to a t t r a c t t o u r i s t s in the numbers anticipated, i t had drawn photographers who made exposures, not just of c l i f f s , rapids and waterfalls, but of more t y p i c a l aspects such as stretches of woodland. As a consequence of these images, a good portion of the public r e a d i l y i d e n t i f i e d p a r t i c u l a r kinds of t e r r a i n with Algoma, a recognition factor to be valued by patrons and painters a l i k e . Another equally enticing aspect, however, must have been the fact that the aspirations of government and Anglo-Canadian financiers had become inextricably entwined with the d i s t r i c t . The resources of Algoma had come to stand for the future of English Canada. Algoma's hydro-electric power would fuel i n d u s t r i a l growth; her minerals would guarantee Canada's place among modern nations, her timber would build 5 6 homes and b u i l d i n g s , and her pulpwood, turned to newsprint, would be swallowed up by an i n s a t i a b l e American market ensuring jobs to s u s t a i n new waves of immigration. As the most e x t e n s i v e l y surveyed and h e a v i l y s u b s i d i z e d h i n t e r l a n d domain to Toronto's m e t r o p o l i s , Algoma was w e l l e s t a b l i s h e d as a source of i n s p i r a t i o n and a focus f o r ambition long before she became the locus of concerted a r t i s t i c i n t e r e s t . So much emotional and c u l t u r a l baggage was d o u b t l e s s an as s e t to a group who sought to use d e c o r a t i v e elements i n an emblematic way. A r i c h context l i k e t h i s one, i f i t c o u l d be tapped and d i s t i l l e d i n t o s t r i k i n g and memorable tableaux, might even prove potent enough to c h a l l e n g e the near hegemony of the Hague School and "mock Barb i z o n " p i e c e s and secure a s e c t i o n of the a r t market f o r works which r e i n f o r c e d Canada's most recent i n c a r n a t i o n as America's northern h i n t e r l a n d . Adherence to a r e d u c t i v e process, c o n f o r m i t y to c e r t a i n s p e c i f i c i d e a l s and a l l e g i a n c e to a symbolic imperative are evident throughout t h i s p r e f a c e . I t i s apparent t h a t a s e l e c t i o n process with d i s t i n c t c r i t e r i a i s i n o p e r a t i o n . In the sentence: "The car was l e f t on d i f f e r e n t s i d i n g s where the country was e s p e c i a l l y p i c t u r e s q u e and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c . " , 2 S the terms " p i c t u r e s q u e " and " c h a r a c t e r i s t i c " r e f e r to those arrangements of t o p o g r a p h i c a l elements which were best s u i t e d to the kind of 57 decorative treatment made famous by Thomson and practised with increasing recognition by other members of the Algonquin Park School. A disavowal of l i t e r a l n e s s 2 7 in the interests of eliminating extraneous d e t a i l and achieving something simpler and more elemental i s c l e a r l y a r t i c u l a t e d in a two- sentence explication of the a r t i s t s ' creative process: "The larger pictures shown were painted...as e f f o r t s to reproduce, with deeper truth of fee l i n g or character, a representative scene.... Others were painted as imaginative summaries of impressions made by the country on the mind of the a r t i s t . " 2 8 The word "impressions" i s used twice, the implication being that Harris, MacDonald and Johnston have incorporated the lessons of Impressionism, but go beyond recording o p t i c a l effects to concentrate v i s u a l data into more meaningful and highly charged imagery. Prominence i s given to painting as an i n t e l l e c t u a l a c t i v i t y , as an exacting search for hidden meaning and, ultimately, truth. A quest of th i s nature requires diligence, s e n s i t i v i t y and studious habits involving not just the mind, but i t s highest faculty, the imagination. An unmistakable tension between the poetic and the prosaic permeates the short a r t i c l e . A glance at the l i s t of works reveals that most are u n t i t l e d , designated instead by a note on the location where they were p a i n t e d . 2 9 Of the 58 paintings that are named, only two (both Johnston's) have non-specific, romanticized t i t l e s . 3 0 It i s also discernable from the brochure that each painter's work has been hung to simulate a scenic tour following the route of the railway from Canyon, the northernmost point of their journey, to Batchewanna, the i r f i r s t stop out of Sault Ste. Mar i e . A need seems to have been f e l t in preparing the text to balance a number of d i f f e r e n t elements. A good deal of concrete information concerning chronology, weather, seasonal variations, precise situations and place names has been included to create a semblance of s c i e n t i f i c o b j e c t i v i t y in keeping with the "explorer" role being c u l t i v a t e d . Not only were figures of t h i s type popular and newsworthy, but this was just the sort of characterization which had been fashioned for Thomson who was already, and would remain, the prototype for Canadian wilderness p a i n t e r s . 3 X In addition, conjuring up such associations could mystify what was, after a l l , only a t r a i n t r i p , neither e s p e c i a l l y long nor arduous, into an area with r e g u l a r l y scheduled r a i l service, transforming i t into a t a l e of courageous daredevils braving the unknown. It could also, since the most famous and "heroic" explorers were those who had undertaken polar expeditions, cause Algoma, northerly 59 o n l y i n r e l a t i o n to O n t a r i o ' s l a r g e urban c e n t e r s , to appear more northern than i t a c t u a l l y was. 3 2 Anchoring each p i e c e to i t s geographic s i t u a t i o n , may have been intended to counter c r i t i c i s m s r e g a r d i n g the a u t h e n t i c i t y of t h e i r c r e a t i o n s . MacCallum had defended Thomson's work from s i m i l a r a c c u s a t i o n s ( i n t h i s case, h i s own) i n h i s essay, "Tom Thomson: P a i n t e r of the North", i n which he recounted h i s i n c r e d u l o u s r e a c t i o n to the forms and c o l o r s i n c e r t a i n of Thomson's sketches before he became convinced of t h e i r v e r a c i t y , e i t h e r by w i t n e s s i n g the e f f e c t s f o r himself or o b t a i n i n g a u t h e n t i c a t i o n from someone whose knowledge of the woods was unimpeachable. 3 3 In the catalo g u e , every view, with j u s t t hree e x c e p t i o n s , i s given s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n t s s u g g e s t i n g t h a t i t i s accurate and v e r i f i a b l e . 3 - 4 Charges of vagueness, formlessness or a lack of c o n t a c t with the n a t u r a l world are being met head on. "Too o f t e n t h e i r work [the author c a u t i o n s ] i s r i d i c u l e d by the i g n o r a n t , c r i t i c i z e d a d v e r s e l y by an unsympathetic narrowness of mind, as though i t had no t r a c e a b l e connection with n a t u r e . " 3 3 Yet, such an a p p a r e n t l y meticulous and methodical approach c o u l d a l s o g i v e r i s e to the n o t i o n t h a t t h e i r r e n d e r i n g s , devoid of p r e t t y t i t l e s and f l o r i d d e s c r i p t i o n , were mere i l l u s t r a t i o n s . There i s an evident d e s i r e to d i f f e r e n t i a t e the show from other landscape d i s p l a y s by 60 p r e s e n t i n g i t i n a c u t - a n d - d r i e d , almost j o u r n a l i s t i c , manner, s i m i l a r i n content and s t r u c t u r e to the kind of working d i a r y which might be kept by a photographer. At the same time, t h i s occasioned, I f e e l , the p e r c e i v e d n e c e s s i t y of s t r e s s i n g H a r r i s 1 , MacDonald's and Johnston's t h e o r e t i c a l underpinnings to r e i n f o r c e these endeavors as "high" a r t while t a i l o r i n g an e x c e p t i o n a l p r o f i l e f o r themselves c o n s i s t i n g of a number of components: the g r i t t y d e t e r m i n a t i o n of the s e t t l e r - c u m - p r o s p e c t o r , the s k i l l and d a r i n g of the e x p l o r e r and the s p i r i t u a l a s p i r a t i o n s of the a r t i s t . 61 1 The Rebel began as a student publication at the University of Toronto in 1917 and continued under that t i t l e u n t i l 1920 when i t changed i t s name to The Canadian Forum. 3 As Audrey Saunders has expressed i t : "...of a l l the a r t i s t s who ever painted there, or may come to paint, to him alone [Thomson] belongs the t i t l e of 'The Algonquin A r t i s t ' . " Audrey Saunders, Algonquin Story (Toronto: Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, 1948) 175. 3 Thomson drowned in Canoe Lake on July 8, 1917. Four months later in November, MacDonald's "A Landmark of Canadian Art" was printed in The Rebel. Praising Thomson as "a natural genius", MacDonald recreated the i n s c r i p t i o n on a cairn recently erected to commemorate the a r t i s t and instructed v i s i t o r s on where to find the monument. ("A Landmark..." i s reprinted in Doug Featherling, ed., Documents in Canadian Art (Peterborough, Ont.: 1987) 37-42.) A lengthier more elaborate appreciation by MacCallum, "Tom Thomson: Painter of the North", adorned with photographs of Thomson, his "shack" and f i v e reproductions of his paintings, made i t s appearance in the spring of 1918 (The Canadian Magazine 50: 5 (March, 1918) 375-385). "Algonquin and Algoma". The Rebel 3:6 ( A p r i l , 1919) 281. s As executor of Thomson's estate, MacCallum, who had taken an active role in s e l l i n g the a r t i s t ' s work as early as 1913 (See l e t t e r : MacCallum to S i r Edmund Walker, Dec. 8, 1913, Box 22, Walker Papers, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto), was a shrewd negotiator. In 1918, he concluded a deal with the National Gallery in Ottawa to buy a number of Thomson pieces as a group, an unprecedented arrangement for a Canadian a r t i s t , l i v i n g or dead. The price received was also exceptional for the time and MacCallum's perspicacity was doubtless welcomed by Thomson's family who were the painter's b e n e f i c i a r i e s , but the Doctor's a c t i v i t i e s on t h i s front shouldn't be construed as e n t i r e l y a l t r u i s t i c for they had the additional effect of i n f l a t i n g the worth of his own c o l l e c t i o n , the largest accumulation of Thomson landscapes in private hands. 62 6 The three "core members of the Group of Seven are also praised b,y MacCallum in "Tom Thomson, Painter of the North". 7 The paintings mentioned were on view at the Spring Ontario Society of A r t i s t s Exhibition in March of 1919. 8 F a i r l e y , "Algonquin and Algoma", 282. 9 Ibid. 1 0 Ibid. 1 1 The display had not been mounted at t h i s point so F a i r l e y had yet to see i t . 1 2 "Algonquin and Algoma", 282. 1 3 Almost ten years old now, Mary Vipond's "The Nationalist Network: English Canada's I n t e l l e c t u a l s and A r t i s t s in the 1920's" (Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism (1980) 32-52) touches on some of the issues that concern me here. A standard source on the subject, i t r e s t r i c t s i t s e l f to tabulating d i s t i n c t i v e features of Anglo-Canadian i n t e l l e c t u a l s as a group and avoids the more disturbing implications of the r e s u l t i n g p r o f i l e . Regardless of these shortcomings, however, Vipond has collected valuable documentation, and her prose is enlivened by the occasional passage which is d i r e c t , i n s i g h t f u l and concise. Among the l a t t e r i s her description of the i n t e l l i g e n t s i a and i t s l o y a l t i e s . 63 By and large, the individuals who may be i d e n t i f i e d as English Canada's i n t e l l e c t u a l s in the 1920's were of the same class and background as the business, p o l i t i c a l and professional leaders across the country....The i n t e l l i g e n t s i a was an integral part of a broader English-Canadian e l i t e ... an e l i t e of education and position, almost e n t i r e l y British-Canadian and resident in the major urban centres. The i n t e l l i g e n t s i a was not r a d i c a l . . . i t s members were not so much s o c i a l c r i t i c s as aspiring s o c i a l leaders and moulders of public opinion.... They saw themselves an i n t e l l e c t u a l s and a r t i s t s performing the c r i t i c a l function of c r y s t a l l i z i n g community i d e n t i t y by dispensing meaningful symbols and a r t i c u l a t i n g common goals.(33-34) Thomson's s t y l e i s discussed in Chapter 3. An indication of how much influence MacCallum, as his mentor, exerted on the evolution of Thomson's s t y l e can be gained through the Doctor's own r e c o l l e c t i o n of parting advice he gave the painter as Thomson set off to j o i n Jackson in Algonquin Park. Before leaving me, we had a long talk about his work. I said to him: * Jackson....has a brighter color sense, but he has not the f e e l i n g you have. You can learn much from him, and he from you, but you must not t r y to be another Jackson.(MacCallum, 376) These remarks echo comments made e a r l i e r on the same page about his i n i t i a l reaction to Thomson's sketches: "Dark they were, muddy in color....", and taking into consideration that MacCallum was not a man noted for his reticence, i t i s probable that he l o s t l i t t l e time in apprising Thomson of th i s and other d e f i c i e n c i e s he perceived in his work. A further instance which could be enlisted i s MacCallum's description, in the same piece, of one of Thomson's nocturnes as "bare birch tops forming beautiful peacock fans against the cold blue skies,...."(382), a cogent indication of the professor's fondness for art nouveau motifs. 64 x s Ibid. F a i r l e y ' s characterization of Beatty is reminiscent of a commentary by E r i c Brown on Beatty's Morning, Algonquin Park of 1914. Published in Art of the B r i t i s h Empire Overseas (London: The Studio (1917) 7), i t had attributed to Beatty "a straightforward s i m p l i c i t y of technique and grasp of the subject as a whole which achieves results both powerful and convincing." This excerpt also provides perhaps the most compelling demonstration of how F a i r l e y ' s use of language reinforces the sharp d i s t i n c t i o n he draws between art that i s "advanced" and i t s less exciting counterpart. Note here, for example, the contrast achieved between the cumulative ef f e c t of adjectives l i k e " s o l i d " , " s t a t i c " , "sombre", and the i n j e c t i o n of the dynamic verb phrase, " s t r i k i n g into,"at the end of the sentence to highlight the kind of brisk decisive action he attributes to the Algoma painters. x s On the subject of innovation, the Algoma event was as I've suggested, unusual in a number of respects, not the least of which was i t s inclusion of informal studies in addition to more refined offerings. It was designed, as F a i r l e y states, to "admit the layman into the kitchen instead of seating him in the drawing room."("Algonquin", 282.) In other words, some of the process would be disclosed through the hanging of preliminary works, the raw materials of the finished studio piece, along with the s t a i d , polished, and often overworked, productions which were standard fare for most Canadian gallery-goers. x v Ibid. 1 8 No wonder i t was " s t a t i c " ! "Algonquin and Algoma", 282. 2 0 Ibid. It is d i f f i c u l t to imagine that anyone in The Rebel's readership would not have known about Thomson's career and his premature demise. Descriptives such as "stealthy" and "sombre" would almost c e r t a i n l y have functioned as reminders of the rumors concerning foul play which had c i r c u l a t e d (and continued to c i r c u l a t e ) following Thomson's death. 65 2 1 Three young painters, W. W. Alexander, David Thomson and Robert Holmes of the Toronto Art Students League appear to have been the f i r s t to sketch in Algonquin Park in the summer of 1902. Frequented by a r t i s t s for over ten years before Thomson began to paint there, "By 1912,...[it] was well known in Toronto as ideal painting country." Saunders, 163. 2 2 Pamphlets l i k e t h i s one, available for a small fee (usually about ten cents), were i n f l u e n t i a l because most gallery-goers purchased or borrowed one. As a r e s u l t , they had a s a l i e n t role to play in setting up conditions for viewing, and c r i t i c s often referred to them in th e i r responses to exhibitions. 2 3 Although there had been r a i l service into Algonquin Park from early in the century and the Canadian P a c i f i c Railway l i n e through the Park was completed in 1915, canoe and snowshoes are the only modes of transport mentioned in accounts of Thomson's a c t i v i t i e s u n t i l many years after his death. 2"* Toronto, The Art Museum of Toronto, Catalogue of Three Exhibitions, A p r i l 26-May 19, 1919, 8. A description of Algoma Sketches and Pictures by J. E. H. MacDonald, A. R. C. A., Lawren Harris and Frank H. Johnston and a l i s t of works in the show is included under a separate cover on pages 8 and 9 of the publication. 2 5 Ibid. 2 S Ibid. 2 7 Written a few months earler, Jackson's "Foreword" to the f i r s t large retrospective of Thomson's work had summed up the Group's methodology. 66 We f e l t that there was a r i c h f i e l d for landscape motives throughout the north country i f we frankly abandoned any attempt after l i t e r a l painting and treated our subjects with the freedom of the decorative designer, ....We t r i e d to emphasize color, l i n e , and pattern even i f necessitating the s a c r i f i c e of atmospheric q u a l i t i e s . (November, 1918. Montreal, The Arts Club, Catalogue of an Exhibition of Paintings by the Late Tom Thomson, March 1-21, 1919, n. p.) 2 8 Ibid. 2 9 Ibid., 9. For example, the second entry under the heading J.E.H. Macdonald, A.R.C.A. reads "No's. 13 to 25, painted in the v i c i n i t y of Hubert." 3 0 Ibid. These are Numbers 78 and 83, Last Gleam and Top of the World, respectively. 3 1 Thomson, as MacCallum (and later F.B. Housser and many others) delineated him, was infused with the s p i r i t of the Canadian wilds. Robust, quiet and almost without t r a i n i n g (Thomson's career in commercial art was ignored), Thomson, they contend, developed an intimacy with nature so complete that she spoke to him d i r e c t l y and he, in turn, transmitted these confidences through the medium of the painted image. No doubt he [Thomson] put his own impress on what he painted, but the country he painted ever grew into his soul, stronger and stronger, rendering him shy and s i l e n t , f i l l i n g him with longing love for i t s beauties... .A technique a l l his own,... sprang into being, not as a re s u l t of any labored thought or experiment, but because i t could not be otherwise.(MacCallum, 378) 67 MacCallum's conception of a r t i s t i c genius depends heavily on Ruskin's blend of Protestant morality and Romantic aesthetics. 3 2 Part of the reason for set t i n g off in t h i s d i r e c t i o n in the f i r s t place must have been the ever-increasing fascination with the North. It was a prime element in the agenda of the f l e d g l i n g Group as i t had been for i t s predecessor, the Algonquin Park School. 3 3 MacCallum, 376-377. 3 4 I f , as I have posited, these pictures were supposed to perform as advertisements for the scenic wonders available to riders on the Algoma Central, t h i s t a c t i c could have served another purpose. L i t e r a r y , u n i v e r s a l i z i n g t i t l e s tend to distance the landscape from an actual physical context, whereas these matter-of-fact monikers have the opposite e f f e c t . They act as indicators, sign-posts, issuing an open i n v i t a t i o n to r e p l i c a t e the journey, to "see for yourself". 3 0 Catalogue, 8. Note the emphasis on i n t e l l e c t , emotion and imagination. The term "summaries of impressions" i s a neat, concise way of locating symbolism as a variant of Post-Impressionism, and explaining i t to the layman. "Traceable" is a c r u c i a l word in the quotation: "traceable" as a route on a map is traceable. 6 8 CHAPTER I I I : PICTURES AND POLITICS Roland Barthes, one of the few modern c u l t u r a l theorists who doesn't exclude v i s u a l art from his deliberations, has written on the a b i l i t y of painting, l i k e l i t e r a t u r e , to evacuate the concrete and pa r t i c u l a r from the formation of meaning. "Pictures become a kind of writing as soon as they are meaningful: l i k e writing, they c a l l for a i e x i s . " 1 It i s by means of t h i s lexis that paintings exercise their mythifying capacity, that they part i c i p a t e in the ordering of the v i s i b l e world according to a set of conventions belonging to, in th i s case, one school of European landscape a r t . Instead of assessing these images as extensions of, or amendments to, a par t i c u l a r a r t i s t i c t r a d i t i o n , I have chosen to focus on how p o l i t i c a l events and economic conditions interacted with pervasive totemic structures (the north and the wilderness) to a l t e r their production and reception. Returning to Barthes for a moment may illumine my plan in t h i s chapter and, for that matter, in the whole exercise. 69 The function of myth is to empty real i t y . . . [ i t ] does not deny things, on the contrary, i t s function is to talk about them, i t makes them innocent, i t gives them a natural and eternal j u s t i f i c a t i o n , i t gives them a c l a r i t y which is not that of an explanation but that of a statement of f a c t . 2 "Depoliticized speech" i s a phrase coined by Barthes to bring home the dangerous " n e u t r a l i t y " of mythical language. My hope i s that I can, to some extent, " r e i n d u s t r i a l i z e " Algoma, "recommercialize" art (reconnecting i t with the business milieu from which i t was, and i s , inseparable), as part of the e f f o r t to " r e p o l i t i c i z e " the " d e p o l i t i c i z e d speech" of Canadian art history. The f i r s t painting I want to consider is MacDonald's The L i t t l e F a l l , (1919, 28 by 36 ins., London Public Library and Art Museum, F i g . 2) A medium-sized of f e r i n g worked up from a ti n y o i l sketch (not among those included in the Algoma show 3 ) , i t was on display at the Ontario Society of A r t i s t s Exhibition prior to Algoma Sketches and Pictures and the Canadian National Exhibition later that autumn. Though i t was hung half a dozen times between 1919 and 1922 and reproduced in the 0. S. A. catalogue, The L i t t l e F a l l f a i l e d to gain much attention from the c r i t i c s and is r a r e l y discussed in the l i t e r a t u r e . F a i r l e y , who considered i t one of MacDonald's fi n e s t accomplishments to that date, concludes his almost rhapsodic 70 assessment of the painter's a b i l i t i e s in "Algonquin and Algoma" with t h i s sentence: "The stones at the foot of The L i t t l e F a l l are a quiet- monument to the fact that he [MacDonald] is growing in power."4 While F a i r l e y hasn't i d e n t i f i e d p r e c i s e l y what i t is about the stones he finds compelling, i t could well have been their s o l i d and weighty appearance. This effect i s achieved by opposing their r i g i d immobility to the action of the churning, bubbling current and th e i r r e l a t i v e c l a r i t y to the forground and background which are less d i s t i n c t . Quiescence and monumentality were suitable properties for an enchanted s i l v a n retreat. Pointedly detached from the Algoma of noisy f a c t o r i e s , belching smokestacks and denuded h i l l s i d e s , The L i t t l e F a l l presents the northern forest as i t was conceived in gentlemen's clubs and Rosedale parlors: as a refreshing diversion from commercial l i f e and s o c i a l obligations in the c i t y . s A b r i e f mention by E. R. Hunter more than twenty years later is another infrequent reference to the picture. Relating i t to two others of about the same si z e , The Beaver Dam and Leaves in the Brook, Hunter refers to a l l three as "important smaller canvases" that are "genuine native a r t " . 6 MacDonald's loose brushwork and suppression of d e t a i l in The L i t t l e F a l l are both condemned and lauded by Hunter: 73. "despite a certain insensitiveness in the background..., the grandly painted water rushes forward, seeming to disregard the frame."-7 In the c l i f f face, these q u a l i t i e s are " i n s e n s i t i v e " but the torrent i t s e l f i s , to Hunter's eye, "grandly painted" presumably because i t s swiftness warranted such "abandon". Both observations pinpoint c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s which separate th i s composition from MacDonald's e a r l i e r renditions of similar s,ubjects a and indicate a change in orientation which can be observed in a number of Algoma works. Hunter, remarks the informality of MacDonald's composition in which the borders s l i c e through the action rather than containing i t . This observation fastens on a singular feature of MacDonald's The L i t t l e F a l l , one which isolates the painting from most of Thomson's oeuvre which was intimately concerned with more academic approaches to framing. Here, MacDonald has abandoned part of the "Thomson formula", the use of rocks and trees as repoussoir devices, 9 but retained another Thomson t a c t i c : closing off the background. Indeed, though MacDonald's cascade i s smaller, i t s basic configuration is similar to what Thomson's Woodland Waterfall, 1916 (48 by 52 inches, Private C o l l e c t i o n , Toronto, F i g . 13) a side view of the f a l l s , might look l i k e i f seen at closer range, from the front. Woodland Waterfall however, is a more t h e a t r i c a l performance. Slender tree trunks and a canopy of leaves form a border reminiscent of curtains and a proscenium arch, while c a r e f u l l y arranged boulders gently lead the eye up to the pool at the base of the cataract. Conversely, The L i t t l e F a l l has the immediacy of a photograph. Dispensing with foreground in the usual sense, i t achieves a grotto- l i k e q u a l i t y through e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t techniques such as graduated focus and "cropping". Generally speaking, the incorporation of photographic i l l u s i o n i s m i s the most s t r i k i n g difference between Algoma works and e a r l i e r Algonquin School productions. Developments in picture-taking as a method of "capturing" scenery have had a bearing on the evolution of modern Canadian landscape painting which i s r a r e l y acknowledged. More t e l l i n g however than the s t r u c t u r a l and technical changes that occurred in response to the photographic image, may have been the prominence given to color in the painting process. Color photography didn't pose a serious threat u n t i l the 1930's giving landscape painters an advantage over their camera-toting r i v a l s in the interim, an edge which was assiduously exploited by the Group. In The L i t t l e F a l l , "modern" attributes l i k e spontaneity, v i t a l i t y and dynamism are evidenced in the form, but the appeal of the location may l i e in i t s 73 seclusion and i t s promise of r e v i v i f i c a t i o n . The p o s s i b i l i t y of spontaneous engagement with nature or the enjoyment of refreshing solitude surrounded only by rock and pure, sparkling water could be expected to att r a c t anglers, t o u r i s t s and camera buffs. This image as a testimonial to Algoma's recreational potential takes i t s place as a counterpart of Thomson's vistas which t r i e d to lure vacation do l l a r s to Algonquin Park to offset the privations of the wartime economy. Also unveiled at the 47th 0. S. A. in the spring of 1919 was The Wild River (1919, 53 by 64 ins., Faculty Club, University of Toronto, F i g . 3), MacDonald's largest opus from the f i r s t Algoma t r i p . From a vantage point on or near the t r e s t l e bridge spanning the Montreal River, t h i s is MacDonald's f i r s t rendition of Montreal F a l l s , a theme (and a s i t e ) he would return to a year l a t e r . 1 0 Here, another contrivance favored by Thomson i s e n l i s t e d : a pair of trees close up cut across the picture plane, providing v e r t i c a l accents to anchor an i n t r i c a t e l y modulated surface f i l l e d with rhythmical movement. A maneuver Thomson used frequently as a means of orienting the spectator and organizing a shallow p i c t o r i a l space, 1 1 i t succeeds at neither task in t h i s application. Both the amount of undulation and the deep blue i n t e r i o r of the painting where the r i v e r comes to rest are in a continual tug-of-war with 74 these " s t a b i l i z e r s " and with each other. As Barker F a i r l e y asserts "I find i t d i f f i c u l t to reconcile the f l a t planes of the picture with i t s unrestful t e x t u r e . " 1 2 While commenting on i t s flaws, however, F a i r l e y completes his instructions on how true landscape painting can be distinguished from decoration. There i s strength in t h i s uneasy tapestry with the two giant pines clamped across i t but there i s not that intense hold on r e a l i t y that MacDonald's admirers cannot help looking for. Not, of course, the l i t e r a l photographic r e a l i t y that some would have, but the deeper r e a l i t y of his own experience out of which the picture grew. 1 3 An i n t e n s i f i e d and v i s c e r a l d i s t i l l a t i o n , derived from the actual and physical, yet d i s t i n c t from them, th i s is the ultimate c r i t e r i o n set forth by F a i r l e y and reiterated in the exhibition catalogue in nearly i d e n t i c a l terms. Photography, the competitions—mechanical, uninspired, banal--is mentioned to reinforce F a i r l e y ' s defence of the a r t i s t as the indispensable r e f i n i n g agent in the art-making process. Other than Hector Charlesworth's paragraph in Saturday Night which r e s t r i c t s i t s e l f to generalizations and doesn't treat individual works, 1* the only other review of t h i s event I've managed to unearth shares F a i r l e y ' s discomfiture. Although The Wild River is n ' t named, i t is reasonably 75 certain that the reporter had the painting in mind when he q u a l i f i e d t h i s remark: "Mr. Macdonald [sic] feels the grandeur and immensity of what is before him, and sometimes he 'gets i t out' to us, and sometimes he i s merely incoherent and c h a o t i c . " 1 6 Since "grandeur" and "immensity" are req u i s i t e attributes of an ideal wilderness, while "chaos" and "incoherence" are inconceivable in th i s context, MacDonald, has, in t h i s instance, proved inadequate to the task. S i m i l a r l y , the " r e s t f u l " and "easy" t r a n q u i l i t y of Algoma have eluded MacDonald, F a i r l e y suggests, but he credits his friend's conception with "strength", an equally admirable hallmark of the mythical north. Nonetheless, the l i t e r a r y contortions F a i r l e y engages in to turn his condemnation into f l a t t e r y serve to emphasize how uncomfortable he was, faced with the unresolved c o n f l i c t in t h i s picture. Both observers assume that MacDonald's exertions were directed at creating a p o r t r a i t of Algoma which would l i v e up to their expectations, but f a i l e d ; that he wanted to give them their perfect northland, but somehow couldn't "get i t out". Intent on excusing the a r t i s t , F a i r l e y maintains that MacDonald had temporarily l o s t his "intense hold on r e a l i t y " and was "workting] on more hasty and p a r t i a l l i n e s . " Yet, there i s no evidence that MacDonald, himself, was displeased with the r e s u l t . MacDonald was, by th i s point, a seasoned 76 painter with an estimable command of his medium. He was also an impecunious one. Thus, i t i s highly u n l i k e l y that a studio piece of this s i z e , the largest and most imposing of his career, was anything but c a r e f u l l y thought out and executed. It is safe to say, I f e e l , that The Wild River is neither a f a i l u r e on MacDonald's part to r e a l i z e his intentions, nor is i t something he dashed off quickly without much deliberation or l e f t in an unfinished state. Among the contradictions inherent in these dizzying fluctuations of shape, pattern and plane i s the dichotomy between wildness and wilderness. Macdonald had broken an unspoken Canadian prohibition against giving form to the riotous aspects of nature in The Tangled Garden (Oil on board, 48 by 60 ins., National Gallery of Canada, F i g . 14) three years before. Now he had extended i t beyond the domestic milieu into an arena which, because i t was intimidating and dangerous, couldn't be given a place in c i v i l i z e d society unless contained and controlled within the parameters of myth. Distinctions between animate and inanimate are broken down and everything is energized, caught up in a seething, swirling motion. What was read as MacDonald's blatant disregard for r a t i o n a l i t y incensed the Mail and Empire reviewer when The Wild River was included in the i n i t i a l showing of the Group of Seven in 1920. 77 Mr. MacDonald has done a piece so far removed from realism, from 'photography 1, from actual nature — r i v e r s do not flow u p h i l l , even climb over a hump--that one wonders i f Canadian art w i l l ever grow so much more ra d i c a l that the Wild River w i l l appear as conventional as the Tangled Garden.3-7 Of a l l the panels that adorned the walls of the Art Museum's new exhibition rooms, The Wild River alone has a seething, cauldron-like aspect, an atmosphere not out of keeping with actual conditions in Algoma in I S I S . 1 8 T a l l spindly pines, s o l i t a r y survivors of the lumber trade, lean rak i s h l y out over the abyss while, further down the riverbank, a grove of spruce, dark and lush, thrust vigorously at the sky. Crashing down the mountainside, the f a l l s transmit their i r r e s i s t i b l e momentum to everything around them. By juxtaposing two d i s t i n c t modes of painting--one which treats the picture as a surface to be modulated and the other which sees i t as an opportunity to render deep space--MacDonald has created discordant passages which enable him to orchestrate a tumultuous performance. While this conjuration increases the vis u a l complexity of The Wild River, i t also affirms i t s connection with Thomson and the nascent Group, a singular feature of whose products was the interplay between two-dimensional and three-dimensional 78 techniques of representation. MacDonald, by exaggerating t h i s confrontation, invests the scene with a restlessness and agitation suited to both the force and fury of a giant waterfall the unharnessed potential of the north. Why, though, would MacDonald embark on a course of action almost guaranteed to s t i r up controversy? Why, i f he was indeed a "reluctant revolutionary" as Mellen has tagged him, after Charlesworth had already heaped opprobrium on him over the i n f l a t e d size and "crudity" of The Tangled Garden, would he devise a similar composition, elemental and even more turbulent, on a larger canvas? 1 9 Both pieces were presented in the f i r s t Group exhibition but neither was offered for sale. Could i t be that MacDonald had re a l i z e d that, though they might be unmarketable, they were capable of conferring a notoriety on him and his colleagues that money couldn't buy? After a l l , The Tangled Garden had aroused more c r i t i c a l reaction and generated more p u b l i c i t y than any previous p i e c e . 2 0 Hector Charlesworth's vituperative attack and MacDonald's s p i r i t e d defence in the press raised MacDonald's p r o f i l e and stimulated interest in the movement to an extent which was unprecedented. 2 1 Isn't i t conceivable then that The Wild River's inclusion in the 0. S. A. display a month before the scheduled opening of Algoma Sketches and Pictures may have been intended to provoke a similar response? F a i r l e y looks to be arguing for an art that is intense rather than esoteric, since he finds Johnston's work frivolous and later upbraids Harris for moving too close to abstraction. For F a i r l e y , paintings can be experimental as long as they continue to be readable. Apart from t h i s , F a i r l e y ' s expectations are not that d i f f e r e n t from MacCallum's or Walker's. Landscape painting and, above a l l , t h i s type of landscape painting, should be controlled, calm and contemplative. What troubles him most about The Wild River appears to be i t s untamed quality, and MacDonald's having strayed beyond the accepted set of conventions for representing wilderness. The basic commonality of interests and values in the upper st r a t a of Toronto society, exemplified here by F a i r l e y , is one reason why the Group was able to put together i t s audience from seemingly disparate sources. It appears that the dearth of c r i t i c a l reaction to Algoma Sketches and Pictures was related to the unenthusiastic reception of the gallery-going p u b l i c . 2 2 I can find nothing to j u s t i f y Mellen's unsubstantiated claim that "many of the c r i t i c s praised t h i s show" 2 3,--if prose of th i s kind was indeed p l e n t i f u l , why would he make do with one oft-quoted phrase from Charlesworth as his sole expression of firsthand o p i n i o n . 2 4 Reid contents himself with an excerpt from the catalogue, and comes close to so acknowledging that the Algoma exhibition was ignored (rather than rejected). By way of explanation, he offers a blanket disclaimer: " i n view of the ending of the war and the return of the v i c t o r i o u s troops, art was not r e a l l y news. 2 3 Both Mellen and Reid have, in my estimation, contributed to a false impression of the exhibition and i t s impact. Making c r i t i c i s m a caption for an i l l u s t r a t i o n or lumping selections from various sources and years into a kind of "nosegay" of commentary as Mellen does renders i t v i r t u a l l y meaningless as h i s t o r i c a l evidence. Yet i t allows him to foster the notion that the project drew widespread comment, much of i t favorable. The dismissive approach taken by Reid r a t i o n a l i z e s away the tepid reception accorded to what he, and art historians in general, have regarded as an important and praiseworthy event. His general and a h i s t o r i c a l statement implying that the Algoma show was a victim of post-War euphoria i s reasonably safe since i t would be d i f f i c u l t to prove or disprove. Making i t , however, implies that there i s a r a t i o n a l basis for believing that, had Canadians been less preoccupied with Reconstruction, the merit in these remarkable paintings would have been recognized. Honesty and accuracy are s a c r i f i c e d by both aut h o r i t i e s , i n t e n t i o n a l l y or unintentionally, in favor of l i o n i z a t i o n . 81 My o r i g i n a l intention was to deal only with paintings which were ac t u a l l y in the Algoma show, but resurrecting i t s exact contents has proved next to impossible because few of the paintings had t i t l e s and the names which were appended were mostly generic. The L i t t l e F a l l and The Wild River are the only finished pictures which were d e f i n i t e l y in the exhibition. To provide a more extensive account of Algoma works and their s o c i e t a l implications, I ' l l end the chapter with an overview of the Ontario in 1919 and a discussion of two works which resulted from the second boxcar t r i p and were exhibited in 1920. Though the Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918, the aftermath of the War wasn't f u l l y f e l t u n t i l the following year. Contrary to the tone of Reid's summation, 1919 saw more bread lines than brass bands as returned sol d i e r s swelled the ranks of the nation's unemployed. 1917 and 1918 had ushered in double d i g i t i n f l a t i o n , 3 6 and, nationwide, men poured into the c i t i e s in search of jobs. Due to early i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n and a strong resource base,' Ontario's population had become urbanized sooner, and the si t u a t i o n was somewhat d i f f e r e n t . When, in the spring of 1919, desperate conditions in the inner c i t i e s caused urban workers to stage general s t r i k e s from coast to coast, Ontario took part, but, there, the storm broke out, not in the metropolis, but in the hinterland. 82 Quebec was not the only constituency alienated when Borden's wartime Union government i n s t i t u t e d conscription. The United Farmers of Ontario were outraged, and this h o s t i l i t y combined with other long-standing grievances gained momentum in the f i r s t year of peacetime. This zealous new s p i r i t was directed against the causes of r u r a l decay, notably the protective t a r i f f and the ' o l d - l i n e ' p o l i t i c a l parties. It was the t a r i f f , above a l l that caused the country's problems: combines and t r u s t s , the high cost of l i v i n g , excessive p r o f i t s , overpriced farm machinery, ru r a l depopulation, and the corruption of public l i f e . 2 " 7 Interestingly, i t was two by-elections in Manitoulin Island that returned the f i r s t United Farmers of Ontario members to the p r o v i n c i a l l e g i s l a t u r e , 2 3 and by October, E. C. Drury, i t s leader, had won the right to form a government. To accomplish t h i s , Drury had to persuade a majority of the twelve Independent Labor Party M. P.'s to enter a c o a l i t i o n . Hearst and his government had also ignored the growing strength of the Canadian labor movement. Nowhere in the country was there a more concentrated or better organized union membership than in Algoma. 2500 liv e d in Hearst's own r i d i n g of Sault Ste Marie, the only c i t y in Canada, where the Trades and Labor Council embraced every l o c a l and, therefore, presented a common f r o n t . 2 9 While wages were comparatively high, workers were pushed to, and beyond, S3 their l i m i t s , and agitation reached i t s peak here, as elsewhere, in the spring and summer of 1919. Concessions from either government or industry were not forthcoming, however, and the anger and f r u s t r a t i o n t h i s occasioned was manifest in Hearst's defeat. Unionist, J. B. Cunningham, head of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, won by a sizeable margin in the f a l l e l e c t i o n , and headed south to Toronto. An anti-establishment majority in Queen's Park, opposed to protection, the manufacturers' lobby and big money in any guise was (and has remained) an aberration. Edmund Walker, whose relations with Whitney's, and later Hearst's, Tories were very cosy, could count on few friends in those same of f i c e s over the next three years. Lawren Harris had too much money, came from the wrong family and had the wrong friends to mix e a s i l y with farmbelt p o l i t i c o s and labor leaders. As for MacCallum, who played his p o l i t i c a l cards close to the chest, his income and his associates were more than enough to preclude close t i e s with the new regime. Did this d r a s t i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t p o l i t i c a l climate have a bearing on how the Algoma painters fabricated their fantasies of wilderness? After a l l , their support was limited and they had lost a portion of i t which had helped to mold t h e i r s t y l e . Again, a painting of MacDonald's seems to manifest a perceptible change in d i r e c t i o n . 84 Both MacDonald's F a l l s , Montreal River (1920, 48 by 60 ins., Art Gallery of Ontario, F i g . 7) and Frank Johnston's Fire-swept Algoma (1920, 50.25 by 66 ins., National Gallery of Canada, F i g . 5) are ind i c a t i v e of a trend toward accommodation which was probably i n i t i a t e d the year before, but becomes more apparent early in 1920. In response to what The Rebel (an organ which had, i t s e l f , been retreating from i t s founding p r i n c i p l e s ) had c a l l e d "the debacle in O n t a r i o " , 3 0 items penned by F a i r l e y , MacDonald and Jackson lost much of their edge. Modernism was discussed l e s s , and impatience with outmoded ideas was displaced by a more ing r a t i a t i n g posture which s o l i c i t e d admirers by bestowing on a "discriminating" public the attributes of i n t e l l i g e n c e , refinement and so p h i s t i c a t i o n . One method of downplaying the break with the past, was to stress that these a r t i s t s , as "native sons", were carrying on a new t r a d i t i o n with i t s own short but respectable family tree. Once more Barker F a i r l e y , whose "Tom Thomson and Others" made i t s appearance in the pages of The Rebel in the same month as the forty-eighth 0. S. A. opened i t s d o o r s , 3 1 contrived a genealogy complete with venerable (and, of course, B r i t i s h ) antecedents to legitimize the current position of his chums. 3 2 Thomson, the touchstone, i s reformulated in this exercise, since F a i r l e y , though he credits Thomson's naive genius, challenges his position as 85 the "father of the movement". In Fa i r l e y ' s eyes, t h i s version inverted the truth: the supportive network of a r t i s t s already existed, and that nexus "gave b i r t h " to Thomson. Thomson i s equated with the English watercolorist, Thomas G i r t i n (1775-1802) for his short l i f e and c o l o r i s t i c innovations while MacDonald, Harris, Jackson and the rest are equated with his contemporaries who carried on to develop the nineteenth century English landscape school. The s i t u a t i o n was as healthy a one as that in which Turner, G i r t i n , Cozens, Cotman and others were helping one another discover the true English landscape a century and a half ago or l e s s . 3 3 E n l i s t i n g such an analogy is a far cry from F a i r l e y ' s descriptive technique of a year e a r l i e r when drawing outside comparisons would have been e n t i r e l y out of keeping with his delineation of experimental and challenging works and the bold i n d i v i d u a l i s t s who created them. 86 Two short paragraphs are a l l that Reid devotes to the second boxcar t r i p in his book, The Group of Seven, and F a l l s , Montreal River is one of eleven pictures associated with i t (the t r i p ) which are reproduced without comment.34 In Mellen's volume, although a color plate of The Wild River is paired with a f u l l page of related text, there is no reference at a l l to the later p a i n t i n g . 3 9 A possible explanation for why i t has been passed over in the l i t e r a t u r e may have been i t s absence from the Group of Seven show in May. Being just daring enough to hold on to a following which conceived i t s e l f as progressive, yet decorous enough not to jeopardize t h e i r ongoing program to lure wealthy purchasers, while remaining accessible enough to r e t a i n the assistance of Walker and the National Gallery is the kind of juggling act in which F a i r l e y , Macdonald and the others were engaged. Some appreciation of their predicament and the p r e v a i l i n g uncertainty of middle and upper class Torontonians in the f i r s t months of 1920 helps c l a r i f y , I think, the transformation in F a i r l e y ' s writing and the emergence of t h i s painting. At odds with his former production, the circumstances I've outlined are also relevant to why the work was seen at the 0. S. A. and later at the R. C. A. 3 6 but would have been an inappropriate offering from MacDonald, a leading member, at the i n i t i a l presentation of the Group of Seven. 87 S l i g h t l y smaller than The Wild River, F a l l s , Montreal River (1920, 48 by 60.25 ins., Art Gallery of Ontario), l i k e The L i t t l e F a l l , integrates the vocabulary of the camera into the language of painting. Prototypes for what MacDonald does here are found not so much in academic landscapes, though there are certain a f f i n i t i e s , but in the high q u a l i t y photos used to i l l u s t r a t e volumes on "scenic wonders" which were favorite g i f t s in middle and upper class families. Whereas branches and the sentinel pines intervene in The Wild River keeping the viewer at a distance, here there i s no such barrier and the picture, rather than being something to experience, becomes a facsimile of experience. These mechanisms, a precarious viewpoint and photographic "naturalism", along with MacDonald's more familiar t r i c k s , such as handling paint to convey motion, are deployed to i n t e n s i f y the vertiginous descent. This has to be seen, I f e e l , as the introduction of an alternate tendency away from so-called " d i f f i c u l t " a r t , a return to a pre-Impressionist mode of p a i n t i n g . 3 7 Instead of a border around a pigmented surface, the frame reverts to the status of a window, and the objective i s to provide a convincing simulacrum of d i r e c t apprehension. Variations in hue and gradations in t o n a l i t y , the nuances of linear and a e r i a l perspective are painstakingly adjusted so that a va l l e y , r o l l i n g h i l l s or whatever extend " r e a l i s t i c a l l y " 88 into the d i s t a n c e . 3 8 As for the subject m a t t e r , i t s e l f , t h i s "take" on the f a l l s , looking down on them from above and just beyond where they roar over the precipice, emphatically announces the height of the mountain, the forcefulness of the d r i v i n g water and the amplitude of heavily forested riverbanks and h i l l s i d e s in the distance. An unbroken sea of fol i a g e , t h i s luxuriant carpet i s so thick that individual trees are v i r t u a l l y indistinguishable even at i t s edges which resemble s o l i d walls of vegetation. MacDonald has borrowed from the lexicon of popular culture and Salon art to make FalIs , Montreal River more recognizable and less intimidating than i t s predecessor, The Wild River. Couched in the phraseology of the picturesque and spectacular, t h i s address, more conventional and more blatant than e a r l i e r works is aimed d i r e c t l y at the business cl a s s . An enchanted cornucopia, a horn of inexhaustible plenty, Algoma pours out her treasures before their eyes. Fast becoming Ontario's signal assets, those precious ingredients, meltwater and woodfiber could be r e a d i l y converted to pulp and newsprint and had drawn investment to Ontario. Though the end products along with most of the p r o f i t s were shipped south, the boost in export value they occasioned had saved the p r o v i n c i a l economy from a general decline in manufacturing which followed the War. 3 9 S t i l l 89 more important however, now that a lack of iron ore had cur t a i l e d Canadian hopes of becoming a major st e e l producer, the construction of large automated pulp and paper m i l l s meant that American technology and know-how would continue to flow northward. In F a l l s , Montreal River there are just two subjects: clean, rushing water and a l i m i t l e s s forest r i c h in spruce and f i r . 4 0 As the materials responsible for parlaying nominal investments into phenomenal r e t u r n s , 4 1 they more than dominate the f i e l d ; they are the f i e l d . Dissimilar in many ways to his then collaborators, Johnston wrote l i t t l e for publication and appeared uninterested in developing a public persona. This, along with his abortive a f f i l i a t i o n with the Group explains in some measure why information about him is scattered and scant. Thoroughly schooled in the technical side of painting, he was an accomplished and p r o l i f i c craftsman. Resisting the affectations of the "bush a r t i s t " , he continued to dress and behave l i k e a middle class businessman. F a i r l e y considered Johnston's work s u p e r f i c i a l , but made use of i t in "Algonquin and Algoma" for di d a c t i c purposes. Disdaining s p e c i f i c mention of pa r t i c u l a r works, he holds up Johnston's entire contribution to Algoma Sketches and Pictures as an example of s l i c k and soul-less decorative s k i l l , i n f e r i o r to the mentally and s p i r i t u a l l y 90 demanding art of painting. As i f to remove any doubt about his contempt for Johnston's e f f o r t s , he compares them unfavorably to a picture by Carmichael, the junior member of the Group. It w i l l be interesting to see whether he [Johnston] w i l l continue in his present vein of luxuriant decoration or submit more pa t i e n t l y to something deeper. His present manner attracts and fatigues at once. Frank Carmichael's Winter Uplans is a p e c u l i a r l y interesting picture, highly a r b i t r a r y in i t s treatment of tree and sky and yet f u l l of r e a l i t y . It stays in the mind as a landscape, not a d e c o r a t i o n . 4 2 Whereas Harris, MacDonald and Jackson courted highbrow publics, Johnston usually made his pitch to middlebrow middle income picture-buyers, and, in so doing, succeeded in att r a c t i n g a broader cross-section of support. Indeed, Johnston's inclusion in the Group might have been calculated to bring in a wider range of viewers. Once inside, they would have the opportunity to peruse "more serious" work. Whether or not his fellow a r t i s t s disapproved, as F a i r l e y did, of Johnston's pandering, they may have come to resent the favorable notices he r e c e i v e d 4 3 and the sales that were beginning to come his way. Johnston was in a d i f f e r e n t position from MacDonald, who, after Thomson, was the a r t i s t who derived the most x. 91 benefit from MacCallum's largesse. Neither had he been able to r e l y on purchases arranged by Walker, whose intercession with the p r o v i n c i a l government and stewardship of the National Gallery and i t s budget had become, i f not an ample, at least a r e l i a b l e , source of funding for MacDonald. Several obstacles kept Johnston the "odd man out" in the Group. True, his I r i s h immigrant background wasn't as s o c i a l l y acceptable as MacDonald's English birthplace, but this disadvantage was probably easier for his fellow a r t i s t s and th e i r mentors to overlook than his lack of i n t e l l e c t u a l pretension and his brash openness about the commercial aspects of making and s e l l i n g a r t . Aggressive and ambitious, Johnston had managed, with Walker's help, to keep painting during the War, but prior to the War Records commissions, Walker had proven reticent about acquiring Johnston's work. Considering his durable correspondence with MacCallum, his contacts at the U n i v e r s i t y 4 4 and his public i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the ideologues of the emergent "national s t y l e " in art, i t is not untoward to surmise a resistance to Johnston and his output on Walker's part as well. A s p i r i t e d advocate of what he saw as a healthy rapport between businessmen and savants. Walker seemed to savor the reputation he had acquired. Only too aware that Johnston's stock was not highly valued in the i n t e l l e c t u a l community, why would 92 Walker jeopardize the tenuous acceptance he had in that sphere by backing him? Fire-swept Algoma (1920, 50.25 by 66 ins., The National Gallery of Canada), something of an anomaly among Johnston's creations, may have been his bid to change a l l that. Also in the 0. S. A. exhibition (along with MacDonald's F a l l s , Montreal River), i t was not sent on to the Royal Canadian Academy exhibition later in the year. 4* It did, however, along with a substantial number of finished works by Johnston, form part of the Group of Seven show in May. 4 6 A b i t bigger than MacDonald's piece, i t too borrows from the photograph, but that variety of i l l u s i o n i s m i s not pursued by Johnston. 4 - 7 Instead in th i s venue, he adheres quite c l o s e l y to the schema which had become something of a trademark in d i s q u i s i t i o n s by Thomson's o f f i c i a l heirs since A Northern Lake. Rocks, stumps and burnt branches l i t t e r the immediate foreground, erecting a barrier which permits the distance necessary for pensive appraisal. Extended further than usual, and imbued with a certain precariousness by being sheared off where i t abuts the distant mountains, the foreground in t h i s painting and how i t i s managed don't break in any fundamental respect with the Thomson t r a d i t i o n . 4 6 Trees, or what's l e f t of them, are linear reinforcements to the shape of the frame. They are markers guiding the progress of the eye and orienting the observer as well as l i n k i n g mechanisms which knit the structure together. Behind, a f l a t backdrop is suspended as in countless other presentations by Thomson and prospective partners in the Group, and the interplay between a highly modulated anterior "shelf" and a two-dimensional posterior plane i s , as I've stressed, one of the most e a s i l y recognized features of the Group's early s t y l e . What is unusual and novel in the work has more to do with the theme than how i t ' s handled. Four days into the run of the 0. S. A., a Timber Commission was struck by Drury's c o a l i t i o n to investigate allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Lands, Forests and Mines under the Conservatives. Howard Ferguson, the previous Minister, had imposed few r e s t r i c t i o n s on what was known as "the old Tory timber r i n g " . 4 9 During the campaign leading up to the October, 1919 election (around the same time as the second Algoma t r i p ) , government d u p l i c i t y in resource management was a major issue and Ferguson, was castigated by a l l three challengers: the Independent Labour Party, the Liberals and the United Farmers of Ontario. Li b e r a l chief, Hartley Dewart c a l l e d him "the most corrupt influence in the Government", 5 0 but Ferguson had introduced one piece of l e g i s l a t i o n in his career which even his detractors found d i f f i c u l t to f a u l t . His espousal of forest protection, though induced by the industry's desire for safeguards, had brought about the Forest F i r e Prevention Act of 1917. Has Johnston, then, adapted the Group's methodology (and mythology) to take on the additional and t o p i c a l prerogative of bolstering morale among that portion of the i n t e l l e c t u a l e l i t e which comprised the Group's public? Was Johnston narrowing his focus at the same time that MacDonald was broadening his? After a decade and a half of Tory rule in Ontario, professionals, c i v i l servants and academics had no doubt come to consider a sense of shared purpose between i n d u s t r i a l i s t s and each t i e r of government to be the natural order of things. As peculiar as i t may seem today, Johnston's image of stark contrasts might have operated in one sense as a reassuring reminder of a past triumph: of what could be attained through the co-operation of entrepreneurs and s c i e n t i s t s (Ferguson had also reorganized the Forest Service), a vindication of p r o f e s s i o n a l i z a t i o n . If t h i s was Johnston's a l l - o u t bid to gain acceptance from that r a r i f i e d segment of the middle cl a s s , perhaps i t was too successful. At any rate, Fire-Swept, Algoma was favorably received and became the largest purchase made by Walker for the National Gallery from the Group of Seven Exhibition. Was recognition of the not so veiled a l l u s i o n in Johnston's painting a factor in convincing Walker to acquire Fire-Swept, Algoma? 8 1 Though older than the present generation of better educated and more specialized corporate c a p i t a l i s t s , 3 2 Walker p l a i n l y supported the trend. I must inject here that I'm not saying that t h i s i s what the picture "means", but of f e r i n g an alternate interpretation which brings into play a reading, available (given the high p r o f i l e of the controversy) to many in i t s audience. 3 3 This adds another dimension to Fire-Swept, Algoma's affirmative p a r t i c i p a t i o n in the v i s i o n of a bold, dramatic, superabundant Algoma, an Algoma in which a scarred foreground simply serves to accentuate the wall of forest beyond. A l l four paintings (returning to Barthes' terminology) "talk about" Algoma using the lexis of the "north", a lexis which was i t s e l f being modified to meet the needs of finance, industry and the state. Algoma might be seen as a haven, a storehouse of energy and resources, an "open sesame" to a new era of prosperity and ease, but, these d e f i n i t i o n s , though resembling e a r l i e r usage, were themselves changing. Each of these t r a n s i t i o n s was occurring because the word "north" i t s e l f was being redefined. Northernness as far as Canada was concerned had usually referred to points north of population centers which were, almost without exception, clustered along i t s southernmost boundary. In addition, for English Canadians, 96 as Cole Harris has pointed out, being a northern nation carried an added connotation--it was a point of connection with B r i t a i n . * 4 But, as B r i t i s h investment declined in Canada after the Great War and American input took i t s place, both the regional and global determinations of the word "north" began to be replaced by a continental frame of reference. 97 x Roland Barthes, "Myth Today" in Mythologies (New York: H i l l and Wang, 1972) 110. 2 Ibid., 43. 3 This study e n t i t l e d The L i t t l e F a l l s was not shown pu b l i c l y u n t i l 1933 and is now in the Art Gallery of Ontario. See Group of Seven, 128. 4 "Algonquin and Algoma", 282. s A short survey by Douglas Cole ("Artists Patrons and Public: An Enquiry into the Success of the Group of Seven", Journal of Canadian Studies 13:2 (Summer, 1978) 69-77) takes up t h i s angle, r e l a t i n g the r i s e of a "wilderness 'ethos'" and the cottaging movement to the recognition achieved by the Group. While Cole's premise has merit and he has uncovered some fascinating material (much of i t , f r u s t r a t i n g l y , undocumented), he projects an environmentalist perspective backwards ascribing to Ontarians in the twenties and e a r l i e r a set of attitudes which didn't become widespread u n t i l much l a t e r . That the north was experienced as a playground by a growing body of well-to-do southerners and that t h i s was the only intimate knowledge of i t that many of them possessed should be taken into account. But i t must also be acknowledged that t h i s emendation is hardly a d r a s t i c one nor does i t constitute a challenge in any re a l sense to the art h i s t o r i c a l legacy. Cole's terminology is vague and his chronology muddled, yet what d i s t o r t s his presentation s t i l l more, I think, i s his almost complete neglect of the economic base in the near and middle north. Reading Cole, one would think that hotels and resorts were the only commercial undertakings in this section of the province. 6 E. R. (Edmund Robert) Hunter, J. E. H. MacDonald: a biography and catalogue of his work (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1940) 24. 9 8 7 Ibid. 3 Spring Rapids, 1912 ( o i l on board, 7 by 9 ins, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), one of the f i r s t of MacDonald's works purchased by Dr. MacCallum, bears the most s t r i k i n g resemblance. MacDonald c e r t a i n l y knew of the Doctor's keen delight in rough water (See A Painter's Country for Jackson's account of s a i l i n g and canoeing with MacCallum, and how "even when he was past s i x t y he would take chances going through or over shoals...in passages hardly wide enough to turn about." 86) and i t i s possible that his awareness of thi s preference and the recent ac q u i s i t i o n of two small sketches of r o i l i n g r i v e r s by Thomson, Dark Waters and Swift Waters,(both very l a t e , probably from the spring of 1917), may have influenced Macdonald in his depiction. 9 The most famous examples of Thomson's variant on the venerable technique of enforcing recession by positioning a shape or figure in the extreme foreground are probably The West Wind, 1917 (Art Gallery of Ontario) and The Jack Pine, 1917 (National Gallery of Canada). 1 0 Plans for a pulp and paper development on the Montreal River had been in place for some time, but didn't go ahead u n t i l after the War. Drummond, 82. 1 1 Thomson, in turn, probably learned i t from Jackson. X 2 "Algonquin and Algoma", 281. 1 3 Ibid., 281-282. 1 4 In thi s instance, t h i s was l i t e r a l l y true since the event which d i r e c t l y preceded the Algoma show was the Exhibition of B r i t i s h Naval Photographs in Colour. Sponsored by Britain's Department of Public Information, and featuring photos of the Royal Navy in action, i t ran from A p r i l 2 to A p r i l 22 drawing record crowds. Art Gallery of Ontario, Minute Books, 17 2. 1 = "Painter-Etchers and Others", Saturday Night 23:31 (May 17, 1919) 3. 99 x s "Glimpses of Nature", unidentified newspaper c l i p p i n g , n. p., n. d., (Art Gallery of Ontario Archives, F i l e 1: A. 4 .1. 3 ., Box 3) 1 7 "Seven A r t i s t s Invite C r i t i c i s m " , Mail and Empire, May 10, 1920 quoted in Mellen, 82. 1 8 I introduce t h i s suggestion to bring in additional information on Algoma, not to intimate that MacDonald was r a d i c a l in any sense of the word. Indeed, even though Algoma Steel was well-known as one of Canada's f i r s t large scale experiments in mass production (Craig Heron, Working in Steel (Toronto: McLelland and Stewart Ltd., 1988) I61) a circumstance which could have been exploited to i d e n t i f y Algoma with modernity, this seems more denied than affirmed by the painting's content and i t s textual reinforcements. Further, while i t is tempting to construct an analogy between the disquiet of The Wild River and labor unrest in Algoma, giving in to that urge would be contributing to the common and f a l l a c i o u s equation of " r a d i c a l aesthetics" with p o l i t i c a l radicalism. Indeed, MacDonald's more abstract canvas i s probably even more removed from everyday human concerns than other Algoma creations. The plight of Algoma workers was a desperate one (Passage into law of b i l l s aimed at l i m i t i n g working hours were successfully blocked by Canadian s t e e l companies. As a r e s u l t , twelve hour days and seven day weeks (with a single day off every two weeks) remained the norm in Canadian m i l l s long after the eight hour day was well established in the United States and Europe. Algoma and Nova Scotia held out the longest, f i n a l l y c a p i t u l a t i n g in 1935. 88-89), but MacDonald, a white-collar wage-earner with a limited education scrambling to be accepted by an increasingly l i t e r a t e e l i t e would have been an u n l i k e l y a l l y . 1 9 Mellen refers to MacDonald as "a rebel in spite of himself" and to "his unwanted role as a revolutionary" and Charlesworth castigated the painter for making The Tangled Garden "much too large for the r e l a t i v e importance of the subject" and concentrating on "the crudity of the colours rather than the delicate tracery of a l l vegetation..." Mellen, 64 (an excerpt from Charlesworth's notice i s quoted on the same page). 2 0 F i r s t shown at the 44th 0. S. A. from March 11 to A p r i l , 15, 1916, The Tangled Garden has since become, in Dennis Reid's words, "the single most discussed work in Canadian ar t . " Group of Seven, 12 4. 100 2 1 Charlesworth 1s "Pictures That Can Be Heard" came out in Saturday Night on March 18, 1916, and MacDonald's reply, "Bouquets From a Tangled Garden", was printed in the Globe on March 27. 2 2 S l i g h t l y more than 1100 people v i s i t e d the show over twenty-three days (for an average d a i l y t o t a l of about forty-four) compared to more than 8,000 a week who came to see the color photos of the Royal Navy. Minute Books, 172. 2 3 Mellen, 82. 2 4 Ibid. The sentence in f u l l (from which Mellen quotes seven words here i t a l i c i z e d ) sounds, to my ear, as i f the adjectives " v i t a l " and "experimental" would be followed by the phrase " i f nothing else" were i t not for Charlesworth's sardonic a f f e c t a t i o n of gentlemanly r e s t r a i n t . "Yet another display which is at least vital and experimental is a c o l l e c t i o n of sketches and pictures, made along the route of the Algoma Central Railway l a s t autumn by J. E. H. Macdonald ( s i c ) , Lawrence (sic) Harris and Frank H. Johnston, of Toronto." It also occurs to me that the misspelling of MacDonald's and Harris' names may have been deliberate, intended to be mildly i r r i t a t i n g and to d i f f e r e n t i a t e them from Johnston, whose work Charlesworth could approve. 2 5 Group of Seven, 131. This i s s i n g u l a r l y u/jinformative since art "was not r e a l l y news" in Canada, global conflagration or no. 2 S Robert Craig Brown and Ramsay Cook, Canada, 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed (Toronto: McLelland and Stewart Limited, 19 7~4), 309. 2 7 Ibid., 317. 2 8 W. L. Morton, The Progressive Party in Canada, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1950) 71-72. 2 9 C. D. Martin, "Algoma Labour Becomes P o l i t i c a l l y Active, 1914-1922" in John F e r r i s , ed., F i f t y Years of Labour in Algoma, Essays on Aspects of Algoma's Working-Class History (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario: Algoma University College, 1978) 65. 3 0 The Rebel went on: Consolation may come from the fact that three years must pass before an appeal to the people is necessary, and from the r e f l e c t i o n that within three years much may happen to shake the purpose of the insurgent forces of r u r a l and urban labour. Apparently there i s no mistrust of t h e i r mandate, no recognition of the fact that they were elected on war-time issues and a war-time franchise, [women were enfranchised in Ontario in 1917.] forever to be abominated. " P o l i t i c s and People", The Rebel 4:4 (Jan., 1920) 161. 3 1 The Rebel 3:6 (March, 1920) 244-248. Ostensibly, F a i r l e y was reviewing a memorial exhibition which came to Toronto for the l a s t two weeks in February. See Group of Seven, 133. 3 2 Also motivating F a i r l e y may have been f a l l o u t from his summary treatment of Thomson in "Algonquin and Algoma". It is not u n l i k e l y that since fascination with Thomson and his story were undiminished, that F a i r l e y realized (or had i t pointed out to him) that the stance he had taken toward the drowned a r t i s t had been a t a c t i c a l error. 3 3 Ibid., 246. 3 - 4 120 Reid's account can be found on pages 136 and 138 in Group of Seven and F a l l s , Montreal River is i l l u s t r a t e d on page 141 (No. 99). Reference i s made to the piece in one of Reid's more recent books as" one of MacDonald's best pictures, and among the very f i n e s t produced by the Group". Nonetheless, t h i s doesn't seem to be enough to j u s t i f y a deeper analysis, and we find out only that i t is " r i c h l y decorative" and "profound with the blown fullness of late autumn." See Dennis Reid, A Concise History of Canadian Painting (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1973) 146 3 B Mellen, 82-83, No. 102. 3 6 The forty-second annual exhibit of the Royal Canadian Academy was held at Montreal in November of 1920. 3 - 7 From the early 1920's, more " n a t u r a l i s t i c " works marked by greater i l l u s i o n i s m and deep recession become a regular part of the Group's repertoire. 3 0 In contradistinction to t h i s is the more modern, in art h i s t o r i c a l terms, proposition of conceiving the canvas as a plane upon which a composition i s devised to stand for, not to masquerade as, the scene in nature. 3 9 In the four year period, 1918 to 1922, the manufacture of pulp increased by 400 percent, and i t s export value along with newsprint, reached thirteen m i l l i o n d o l l a r s (compared to two m i l l i o n in 1900) propelling i t to f i r s t place as the nation's most important product. Donald MacKay, Heritage Lost, The C r i s i s in Canada's Forests (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1985) 66. AO " T n e pulp m i l l s ' need for black spruce and balsam fir...gave Canada, in e f f e c t , a new commercial forest r e l a t i v e l y untouched." Ibid. -*1 Whereas dividends from manufacturing brought l i t t l e benefit to l o c a l entrepreneurs, graft along with ineptitude in Ontario"s Department of Lands, Forests and Mines ensured that "mining for pulpwood" was a lucrat i v e enterprise. The wood could be obtained by buying up the returned s o l d i e r s ' land grants, by s e t t l i n g patented lands and s t r i p p i n g them of pulpwood, and by outright trespass But the most e f f e c t i v e method of obtaining wood was to stake a mining claim, which at the time gave the claimant rights to a l l timber except pine over an area of ten square miles.(Lambert, 264) 1 0 3 Another instance of the corrupt practises engaged in under Howard Ferguson's administration of the Department (revealed at the Latchford-Riddell Enquiry in 1920) was the nearly two thousand square miles of timber rights sold without tender between 1918 and 1920.(Ibid., 266) 4 2 "Algonquin and Algoma", 281. 4 3 Charlesworth, reversing F a i r l e y ' s stand, dismisses MacDonald and Harris as s k i l l e d draughtsmen and th e i r Algoma subjects as "self-conscious" and "clever" while c r e d i t i n g Johnston with "the most poetic f e e l i n g " (Hector Charlesworth, "Painter-Etchers"). "Mr. Johnston sees nature much as a huge decoration", declares an anonymous report on the same show. Finding this a p e r f e c t l y suitable way, seemingly, of "seeing nature" he/she concludes with an admiring (?) evocation of Johnston's scene: "the blue and purple mountains with a glimpse of orange sky, the sparkle of autumn foliage against the molten grey of a placid l a k e - he [Johnston] eliminates d e t a i l and finds wild, unbroken expanses. ("Glimpses of Nature" (See note 16.)) 4 4 These took in the editors of The Rebel (one of whom was MacDonald), a publication Walker h e a r t i l y approved. In 1918, he wrote them to commend the journal for not l i v i n g up to i t s name. May I as one of your Constant Readers say how much I enjoy The Rebel. I suppose part of the enjoyment arises because you are not r e a l l y rebels but are merely expostulating with the Government [of the University] sometimes with the times and the manners but always with a point to your attack which is f a i r l y new and s t a r t l i n g . Letter to The Rebel from Sir Edmund Walker. Jan. 12, 1918. Walker Papers, Box 24. 104 4 5 The forty-eighth annual exhibit of the Ontario Society of A r t i s t s took place at the Art Museum of Toronto from March 5 to A p r i l 14, 1920, and the forty-second showing of the Royal Canadian Academy was held at Montreal in November. Among the Museum's best-attended offerings that year, the O. S. A. drew close to 8,000 spectators. Minute Book, 208 4 6 Art Museum of Toronto, Group of Seven, May 7-27, 1920, a catalogue was published. Johnston had more works for sale than any other Group a r t i s t . 4 7 As i t i s , for example, in the e a r l i e r "sensational" Beamsville (72 ins. by 54 ins., National Gallery of Canada) in which Johnston "apes" a e r i a l photography. 4 9 Burnt over h i l l s i d e s were common in Algonquin Park and painted by Thomson himself. One of these, Fireswept H i l l s (reproduced in Tom Thomson, The Silence and the Storm, 89) has some s t r i k i n g a f f i n i t i e s with Fire-Swept Algoma. 4 9 Peter Oliver's "G. Howard Ferguson, the Timber Scandal and the Leadership of the Ontario Conservative Party" in his Public and Private Persons, The Ontario P o l i t i c a l Culture, 1914-1934 (Toronto: Clarke Irwin and Company Limited, 1975) is a readable overview of the hearings, what precipitated them and their aftermath. s o Ibid., 46, quoting from the Globe, Oct. 8, 1919. 5 1 It was bought for 750 d o l l a r s from the Group of Seven exhibition, 19 20. Group of Seven, 135. 105 3 3 This modern corporate e l i t e was in place by 1914. Tom Traves, The State and Enterprise, Canadian Manufacturers and the Federal Government, 1917-1931 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979) 6. a 3 An oblique reference to the Forest Service i s contained in Augustus Bridle's notice on the Group of Seven show. He compares Fire-Swept, Algoma to a "tremendous hoarding upon which the great F i r e Ranger of the eternal forest advertises Solitude for the Multitude." "Are These New Canadian Painters Crazy?" The Canadian Courier 25 (May 22, 1920) 20 *•* Cole Harris, "The Myth of the Land in Canadian Nationalism" in Peter Russell, ed., Nationalism in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966) 38. 1 0 5 g . CONCLUSION In conclusion, l e t me to respond to the questions I posed in the introduction. It is my contention that workers disappeared from Group paintings because they were being removed, pushed out of the consciousness, and, to a certa i n degree, the l i v e s of the i r "superiors". S p e c i a l i z a t i o n and s c i e n t i f i c management of the c i t y i t s e l f (the phenomenon of suburbs) and of the work force (the growth of a managerial caste and the extension of thi s administrative fervor to include home and family through the advent of the s o c i a l worker) arose because laborers were no longer viewed with equanimity, but as a threat. The northern work force, d i s c i p l i n e d and vocal, had demonstrated that i t could c r i p p l e industry, elect i t s own representatives and forge a l l i a n c e s which threatened the established order. As the "northern wilderness" became less distant and more populous, i t also became more intimidating and the glaring discrepancy between i t s class and ethnic composition and Toronto's were more d i f f i c u l t to ignore. This made i t imperative to shore up the crumbling facade of the imaginary "north", to refurbish i t as a paradisiacal refuge or an occult dimension with i n f i n i t e regenerative powers. For Algoma and the Group's later work, patrons and public were, in the simplest terms, those who benefitted d i r e c t l y and i n d i r e c t l y from the enlargement of lOf b- manufacturing in Ontario. These can be envisioned as two superimposed layers, mutually supportive to a small degree, but with the lower rank sustained almost t o t a l l y by the upper. Manufacturers, financiers and the governments who served them occupied the top l e v e l , and middle class professionals with an i n t e l l e c t u a l bent, many of whom were employed by government or i n s t i t u t i o n s funded by government and endowed by business, clung tenaciously to the t e r r i t o r y below. The purposes which were served by the Group's imagery of Algoma from the years 1918 to about 1922 were many, but there are two that stand out. The lesser of the two was discussed in the f i r s t half of my thes i s : the part these paintings may have played in paving the way for tourism. When sections of Algoma became worthless to the extractive industries, they could be r e h a b i l i t a t e d as resort properties, a procedure which was by now well-established and from which painters had profited for decades. The second more i d e o l o g i c a l l y loaded purpose was taken up in the las t section. During what might be referred to as Canada's i n t e r c o l o n i a l period, in the face of Br i t a i n ' s declining influence, these paintings provided v i s i b l e reassurance that the country would not be abandoned, that another imperialist "protector" was waiting in the wings. They confirmed the north's (and, therefore, Canada's) awesome potential as supplier of raw materials to i t s advanced, prosperous and powerful southern neighbor. Fig. 1. Wooden t r e s t l e at mile 104 on the Algoma Central Railway Fig.2. The L i t t l e F a l l , J. E. H. MacDonald, 1919 (28 by 36 ins London Public Library and Art Museum, London, Ont.) 108 F i g . 3. The Wild River, J. E. H. MacDonald, 1919 (53 by 64 ins., Faculty Club, University of Toronto) 109 Fig. 4. F i r s t Snow, Algoma, A. Y. Jackson, 1919-1920 (42 by 50 ins., McMichael Conservation C o l l e c t i o n , Kleinburg, Ont.) F i g . 5. Fire-Swept, Algoma, Frank ins., National Gallery of H. Johnston, 1920 (50.25 by Canada, Ottawa) I l l F i g . 6. Algoma C o u n t r y , L a w r e n H a r r i s , c. 1920 ( 4 0 . 2 5 by 50.75 i n s . , A r t G a l l e r y o f O n t a r i o , T o r o n t o ) 112 F a l l s . Montreal River, J. E. H. MacDonald, 1920 (48 by 60.25 ins.7 Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto) 113 The'solemn Land, J. E. H. MacDonald, 1921 (48 by 60 ins., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa) 1 1 4 Figs. 9 and 10. Algoma Steel's f i r s t r o l l i n g m i l l Michipicoten. and the ore dock at 11 Figs. 11 and 12. The type of caboose Harris had r e f i t t e d for the "box-ca t r i p s " and the sketching grounds of the Group of Seven. 1 1 6 Fig. 13. Woodland Waterfall, Tom Thomson, 1916 (48 by 52 ins., Private C o l l e c t i o n , Toronto) 117 Fig. 14. The Tangled Garden. J. E. H. Macdonald, 1916 (Oil on board, 48 by 60 ins., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa) BIBLIOGRAPHY A. BOOKS Addison, Ottelyn. Tom Thomson: The Algonquin Years. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1969. Armstrong, Christopher, and Nelles, H. V. Southern Exposure: Canadian Promoters in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1896-1930. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988. Art of the B r i t i s h Empire Overseas. London: The Studio, 1917. Barthes, Roland. Image--Music--Text. New York: H i l l and Wang, 1977. . Mythologies. New York: H i l l and Wang, 1972. Berger, C a r l . Contemporary Approaches to Canadian History. Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman, 1987. . The Writing of Canadian History: Aspects of Canadian H i s t o r i c a l Writing since 1900, 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986. B i s s e l l , Claude. The Young Vincent Massey. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981. B l i s s , Michael. A Canadian M i l l i o n a i r e : The L i f e and Times of S i r Joseph FlaveJie, Bart., 1858-1939. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1978. . A Liv i n g P r o f i t : Studies in the Social History of Business, 1883-1911. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974. Bray, Matt, and Epp, Ernie, eds. A Vast and Magnificent Land: An I l l u s t r a t e d History of Northern Ontario. Thunder Bay and Sudbury: Lakehead University and Laurentian University, 1984. 119 Bri d l e , Augustus. Sons of Canada, Short Studies of Chara c t e r i s t i c Canadians. Toronto: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1916. . The Story of the Club. Toronto: The Arts and Letters Club, 1945. Brown, Maud F. Breaking Barriers: E r i c Brown and the National Gallery. Toronto: Society for Art Publications, 1964. Brown, Robert Craig, and Cook, Ramsay. Canada, 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974. Buchanan, Donald W. Canadian Painters. London: Phaidon Press, 1945. Colgate, William. Canadian Art: i t s o r i g i n and development. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1943. . The Toronto Art Students League 1886- 1904. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1954. Cook, Peter. Massey at the Brink: The story of Canada's greatest multinational and i t s struggle to survive. Toronto: C o l l i n s , 1981. Currelly, C. T. I Brought the Ages Home. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1956. Davies, Blodwen. Tom Thomson: The Story of a Man Who Looked for Beauty and Truth in the Wilderness. Vancouver: Mitchell Press, 1967. Denison, M e r r i l l . Harvest Triumphant: The Story of Massey- Harr is . Toronto: C o l l i n s , 1949. Dendy, William. Lost Toronto.' Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1978. Drummond, Ian M. Progress Without Planning: the Economic History of Ontario from Confederation to the Second World War. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987. Duval, Paul. The Tangled Garden. Scarborough, Ont.: Cerberus/Prentice-Hall, 1978. 120 Featherling, Doug, ed. Documents in Canadian Art. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadvew Press, 1987. Ferns, Henry and Ostry, Bernard. The Age of Mackenzie King. Toronto: James Lorimer, 1976. F e r r i s , John, project d i r e c t o r . F i f t y Years of Labour in Algoma: Essays on Aspects of Algoma's Working-class History. Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.: Algoma University College, 1978. G i l l i s , R. Peter, and Roach, Thomas R. Lost I n i t i a t i v e s : Canada's Forest P o l i c y and Forest Conservation. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986. Glazebrook, G. P. de T. S i r Edmund Walker. London: Oxford University Press, 1933. Haber, Samue1. E f f i c i e n c y and U p l i f t : S c i e n t i f i c Management in the Progressive Era. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964. Heron, Craig. Working in Steel. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1988. Hodgins, Bruce W., and Hobbs, Margaret, eds. Nastawgan: The Canadian North by Canoe and Snowshoe. Toronto: Betelgeuse Books, 1985. Hoover, Dorothy. J. W. Beatty. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1948. Housser, F. B. A Canadian Art Movement: The Story of the Group of Seven. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1926 Hubbard, J. Russell. Painting in Canada: a history, 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977. Hubbard, R. H. The Development of Art in Canada. Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1963. . The National Gallery of Canada Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. Vo1. 3: The Canadian School. Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1960. Hunter, E. R. (Edmund Robert). J. E. H. MacDonald; a biography and catalogue of his work by E. R. Hunter. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1940. 121 H u t h , H a n s . N a t u r e a n d the American: T h r e e C e n t u r i e s of C h a n g i n g . A 1 t . . i t u d e s . B e r k e l e y : U n i v e r s i t y o f C a l i f o r n i a P r e s s , 1 9 5 7 . J a c k s o n , A . Y . A P a i n t e r ' s C o u n t r y : T h e A u t o b i o g r a p h y o f A . Y... J a c k s o n . T o r o n t o : C l a r k e , I r w i n , 1 9 5 8 . J a m i e s o n , S t u a r t . T i m e s o f Trouble: L a b o u r U n r e s t a n d I n d u s t r i a l C o n f l i c t i n . C a n a d a , 1 9 0 0 - 1 9 6 6 . A S t u d y . . , f o r . t h e . T a s k F o r c e o n . L a . b p u r R e l a t i o n s . O t t a w a , 1 9 6 8 . K e y , A r c h i e F . B e y o n d F o u r W a l l s : T h e O r i g i n s a n d D e v e l o p m e n t o f C a n a d i a n , M u s e u m s . T o r o n t o : M c C l e l l a n d a n d S t e w a r t , 1 9 7 3 . L a m b e r t , R i c h a r d . R e n e w ^ W e a l t h : A C e n . t e n n _ i _ a 1. H i s t o r y o f t h e P u b l i c M a n a g e m e n t of......Lands^. F o r e s t s a n d W i l d l i f e i n O n t a r i o . T o r o n t o : O n t a r i o D e p a r t m e n t o f L a n d s a n d F o r e s t s , 1 9 6 7 L o r d , B a r r y . T h e H i s t o r y o f P a i n t i n g i n . C a n a d a : T o w a r d a P e o p l e . ' s A r t . T o r o n t o : N . C . P r e s s , 1974. MacKay, Donald. H e r i t a g e L o s t : T h e C r i s i s i n Canada's E.Q.?ejsts . T o r o n t o : M a c m i l l a n o f C a n a d a , 1 9 8 4 . M c D o w a l l , D u n c a n . S t e e l . at the Sault: Frances H. C l e r g u e , S i r . . . J a m e s D u n n , a n d t h e Algoma Steel Corporation. T o r o n t o : U n i v e r s i t y o f T o r o n t o P r e s s , 1 9 8 4 . M a r x , Leo . T h e M a c h i n e i n . t h e G a r d e n : Technology and t h e Pastoral I d e a l i n America. N e w Y o r k : O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 6 4 . M e l l e n , P e t e r . T h e G r o u p Q.L.. S e v e n.. T o r o n t o : M c C l e l l a n d a n d S t e w a r t , 19 7 0 . M i k a , N i c k , a n d M i k a , H e l m a . I I . l u s t ; r a t e d H i s t o r y o f C a n a d i a n R a i l w a y s . B e l l e v i l l e , O n t . : M i k a , 1 9 8 6 . M i l l e r , J . 0 . , e d . T h e N e w E r a i n C a n a d a : E s s a y s D e a l i n g w i t h t h e y p b u i l d i n o f t h e C o m m o n w e a l t h . T o r o n t o : J . M. D e n t a n d S o n s , 1 9 1 7 . M o r t o n , W. L . T h e P r o g r e s s i v e Party in . C a n a d a . T o r o n t o : M a c m i l l a n , 19 5 0 . M u r r a y , J o a n . T h e . . B e s t o f T o m T h o m s o n . E d m o n t o n : H u r t i g , 122 and F u l f o r d , R o b e r t . The B e g i n n i n g o f VLsi.P.n : The D r a w i n g s o f L a w r e n S. H a r r i s . . T o r o n t o : D o u g l a s and M c l n t y r e , 1982. N a s g a a r d , R o a l d . The Mystic....North: symb>o 1..ist..._Lands.c_ape P a i n t i n g i n N o r t h e r n E u r o p e and N o r t h A m e r i c a , 1890- 19.4.0. T o r o n t o : U n i v e r s i t y o f T o r o n t o P r e s s , 1984. N e l l e s , H. V. The P o l i t i c s o f D e v e l o p m e n t : F o r e s t s , Mines and H y d r o e l e c t r i c Power i n O n t a r i o , 1 8 9 4 - 1 9 4 1 . T o r o n t o : M a c m i l l a n o f C a n a d a , 1974 P e p p e r , D a v i d . The R.gots o f Modern Environmental ism. Beckenham, K e n t : Croom Helm, 1984. N ock, 0. S. A l g o m a C e n t r a l R a i l w a y . L o n d o n : Adam and C h a r l e s B l a c k , 19 75. . G. Howard Ferguson,,:, O n t a r i o T o r y . T o r o n t o : U n i v e r s i t y o f T o r o n t o P r e s s , 1977. O l i v e r , P e t e r . P u b l i c a n d P r i v a t e Persons, The O n t a r i o P o l i t i c a l Culture.,. £914-1934. T o r o n t o : C l a r k e I r w i n , 19 75. Owram, Doug. The G o v e rn m e nt G e n e r a t i o n : I n t e l l e c t u a l s and t h e St,a te......... 1.9.6 0. -1.9.4.5 . T o r o n t o : U n i v e r s i t y o f T o r o n t o P r e s s , 19 86. P i v a , M i c h a e l J . The C o n d i t i o n o f t h e .Working. C l a s s in. T o r o n t o - - 1 9 0 0 - 1 9 2 1 . O t t a w a : U n i v e r s i t y o f O t t a w a P r e s s , 1979. P o r t e r , G l e n n , and C u f f , R o b e r t D. En t e r P.O.S e _. a nd N a t i o n a l D e v e l o p m e n E s s a y s i n C a n a d i a n . .Bu.s.i..n..e.ss._..a.nd E c o n o m i c Hi.s.tp.ry. T o r o n t o : B u s i n e s s H i s t o r y R e v i e w , 1973. R a d f o r t h , I a n . Bu.shjwo.rJ«,ers and Bosses: Logging in N o . r t h e r n Q n t a r i p . , 1900-1980 . T o r o n t o : U n i v e r s i t y o f T o r o n t o P r e s s , 1987 R e i d , D e n n i s . A C o n c i s e H i s t o r y o f C a n a d i a n P a i n t i n g . T o r o n t o : O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1973. . Tom Thomson...:.. The J a c k P i n e . O t t a w a : The N a t i o n a l G a l l e r y o f C a n a d a , 1975. R o b s o n , A l b e r t H. C a n a d i a n L a n d s c a p e P a i n t e r s . T o r o n t o : The R y e r s o n P r e s s , 1932. 123 Rutherford, Paul. The Making of the Canadian Media. Toronto: McGraw H i l l Ryerson, 1978. Saunders, Audrey. Algonquin Story. Toronto: Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, 1948. Sullivan, Alan. The Rapids. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972. Introductory essay by Michael B l i s s . Thompson, John Heard, with Seager, Al l e n . Canada 1922-1939: Decades of Discord. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1985. Town, Harold, and Silcox, David P. Tom Thomson: The Silence and the Storm. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977. Traves, Tom. The State and Enterprise: Canadian Manufacturers and the Federal Government, 1917-1931. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979. Wightman, W. R. Forever on the Fringe: Six Studies in the Development of Manitoulin Island. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982. Wilson, Dale. The Algoma Central Railway Story. Sudbury: Nickel Belt R a i l s , 19847 B. ARTICLES Altmeyer, George. "Three Ideas of Nature in Canada, 1893- 1914." Journal of Canadian Studies 11 (1976) 21-36. Benedickson, Jamie. "Temagami and the Northern Ontario Tourist Frontier." Laurentian University Review 11 (February, 1979) 43-70. Br i d l e , Augustus. "Are These New Canadian Painters Crazy?" Canadian Courier 25 (May, 22, 1920) 6, 10, 22. Charlesworth, Hector. "Painter-Etchers and Others." Saturday Night 23:31 (May 17, 1919) 3. Cole, Douglas. " A r t i s t s , Patrons and Public." Journal of Canadian Studies 13:2 (Summer, 1978) 69-72. 124 Davidson, Margaret F. R. "A New Approach to the Group of Seven." Journal of Canadian Studies 4:4 (1969) 9-16. F a i r l e y , Barker. "Algonquin and Algoma." The Rebel 3:6 ( A p r i l , 1919) 279-282. . (B. F.) "Studio Talk." The Studio 77:316 (July, 1919) 168-170. . "Tom Thomson and Others." The Rebel 3:6 (March, 1920) 244-248. G i l l i s , R. Peter, and Roach, Thomas R. "The American Influence on Conservation in Canada: 1899-1911." Journal of Forest History 30 (October, 1986) 160-74. "Glimpses of Nature." Unidentified newspaper c l i p p i n g , n. p., n. d. Art Gallery of Ontario Archives ( F i l e 1:A. 4 . 1. 3, Box 3 ) . Greenwood, Michael. "Myth and Landscape: an introduction." artscanada 35 (October-November, 1978) 1-8. Harris, Lawren S. "The Group of Seven in Canadian History." The Canadian H i s t o r i c a l Association: Report of the Annual Meeting Held at V i c t o r i a and Vancouver June 16- 19, 1948, 28-38. Jackson, A. Y. "Sketching in Algoma." Canadian Forum (March, 1921) 174-175. Lamb, Mortimer. "The R. C. A." International Studio 61 (March, 1917) 30-34. L i t t l e , Dr. R. P. "Some Recollections of Tom Thomson and Canoe Lake." Culture 16:2 (June, 1955) 198-205. Larisey, Peter. "Nationalist Aspects of Lawren S. Harris's Aesthetics." B u l l e t i n 23 (1974) The National Gallery of Canada, 3-9. MacCallum, James M. "Tom Thomson, Painter of the North." The Canadian Magazine 50:5 (March, 1918) 375-385. MacDonald, J. E. H. "A. C. R. 10557." The Lamps (December, 1919) 33-39. 125 . "A Landmark of Canadian Art." The Rebel (November, 1917) Documents in Canadian Art, 37-42. MacTavish, Newton. "Sir Edmund Walker's C o l l e c t i o n of Art." The Canadian Magazine 52 (February, 1919) 833-41. " P o l i t i c s and People." The Rebel 4:4 (January, 1920) 161. Scheinberg, Stephen. "Invitation to Empire: T a r i f f s and American Economic Expansion in Canada." Enterprise and National Development, 80-100. Tennyson, Brian D. "The Ontario General Ele c t i o n of 1919: The Beginnings of Agrarian Revolt." Journal of Canadian Studies 4 (Februrary, 1969) 26-36. "The New Canadian Art." B e l l e v i l l e Intelligencer, September 27, 1919, 7. "Thomson and the Algonquin School." The Mail and Empire, February 21, 1920, 18. Vipond, Mary. "Best S e l l e r s in English Canada: 1919-1928." Journal of Canadian F i c t i o n (Special Issue: P o l i t i c s and Literature) 35-36 (1986) 73-105. . "The Nationalist Network: English Canada's Int e l l e c t u a l s and A r t i s t s in the 1920's." Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism (1980) 32-52. Wadland, John. "Wilderness and Culture." Park News (Special Issue: Wilderness and the Arts) 19:2 (Summer, 1982) 12-13. Wrenshall, H. E. "Art Notes." Sunday World. May 21, 19 20. C. EXHIBITION CATALOGUES Banff, Alberta, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. A Wilderness for A l l : Landscapes of Canada's Mountain Parks. 1885-1960. November 6-December 8, 19 85. Tr a v e l l i n g Exhibition. Text by Elizabeth Brown. Kingston, Ontario, Queen's University, Agnes Etherington Art Centre. J. W. Beatty. 1869-1941. February 8-March 22, 1981. Trav e l l i n g Exhibition. Text by Dorothy S. Farr. 126 Montreal, The Arts Club. Catalogue of an Exhibition of Paintings by the Late Tom Thomson. March 1-21, 1919. "Foreword" by A. Y. Jackson (dated November, 1918). Ottawa, The National Gallery of Canada. The Group of Seven. June 19-September 8, 1970. Text by Dennis Reid. . The MacCallum Bequest and The Mr. and Mrs. Jackman G i f t . January 2 5- February 23, 1969. Text by Dennis Reid. Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario. Lawren Harris: Urban Scenes and Wilderness Landscapes. January 14-February 26, 1978. Text by Jeremy Adamson. . Si r Edmund Walker, Print Collector. November 22, 1974-January 12, 19 75. Tr a v e l l i n g Exhibition. Text by Katherine A. Jordan. . Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven: Selected Works from the C o l l e c t i o n of the Art Gallery of Ontario. 19 82. Text by David Wistow. Toronto, Art Gallery of Toronto. J. E. H. MacDonald, R. C. A., 1873-1932. November 13-December 12, 1965. T r a v e l l i n g Exhibition. . Lawren Harris: Paintings 1910-1948. Tr a v e l l i n g Exhibition. Toronto, Art Museum of Toronto. Catalogue of Three Exhibitons: The Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers, J. E. H. MacDonald, A. R. C. A., Lawren Harris and Frank H. __J oh n st on, and W i l l iam Cruikshank, R. C. A. . Ap r i 1 19-May 26, 1919. D. UNPUBLISHED MATERIALS: Manuscript and Archival Collections, Theses and Dissertations Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. Walker Papers. Art Gallery of Ontario. Archives, Minute Books and Exhibition F i l e s . 127 Davis, Ann. "An Apprehended Vision: The Philosophy of the Group of Seven." P. H. D. Dissertation. York University, 1973. Lowery, Susan J. "The Art Gallery of Ontario, Pattern and Process of Growth: 1872-1966." Master's Thesis. Concordia University, 1985. Marshall, Barbara R. "Sir Edmund Walker, Servant of Canada." Master's Thesis. University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1971. E. REFERENCE MATERIALS: Bibliographies, Indexes, Almanacs; Biographical and S t a t i s t i c a l Sources Bishop, 01ga B. Bibliography of Ontario History, 1867-1976. 2 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980. Canadian Art Microdocuments: A. Y. Jackson, 1882-1974. Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada Library, 1980. Canadian Art Microdocuments: Group of Seven. Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada Library, 1974. Canadian Art Microdocuments: Francis Hans (Franz) Johnston, 1888-1949. Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada Library, 1978. Canadian Art Microdocuments: J. E. H. MacDonald, 1873-1932. Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada Library, n.d. Heggie, Grace F. Canadian P e r i o d i c a l Index, 1920-1937. Ottawa: Canadian Library Association, 1987. Heggie, Grace F., and Adshead, Gordon R. An Index to Saturday Night, 1887-1936. Toronto: Micromedia, 1987. Hopkins, J. C a s t e l l . The Canadian Annual Review of Public A f f a i r s , 1919. Toronto, The Canadian Annual Review, 19 20. . The Canadian Annual Review of Publie A f f a i r s , 1920. Toronto, The Canadian Annual Review, 1919, 128 MacDonald, Colin S. A Dictionary of Canadian A r t i s t s . 4 vols. Ottawa: Canadian Paperbacks, 1967-1974. Mika, N. and H. Places in Ontario, their name origins and history. 3 vols. B e l l e v i l l e , Ont.: Mika, 1977-1983. Reid, Dennis. A Bibliography of the Group of Seven. Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1971. The Canada Yearbook, 1916-1917. Ottawa, 1917. Urquhart, M. C , ed. H i s t o r i c a l S t a t i s t i c s of Canada. Toronto: Macmillan, 1965.

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