Riding the Rails with the Group of Seven

The North's rugged landscapes are brought to life, one brush stroke at a time...

The rugged landscape and rich colours of the Algoma region have been inspiring artists and photographers for over a century. The most notable of these artists are the Canadian painters of the Group of Seven, who famously captured the area's grand and breathtaking natural beauty in their work. Today, you can come see this beauty for yourself.

Nearly 100 years after the Group of Seven first traveled Algoma on the Algoma Central Railway, it is easier than ever to explore the same land on the same tracks as these Canadian art legends. You too can find the same inspiration that the Group drew from the beautiful landscape of Northern Ontario.

Initially drawn together by a frustration with the imitative and conservative nature of Canadian art, the Group is most commonly remembered for their paintings of the Canadian wilderness. It is largely due to this frustration that the group's paintings shied away from realistic representations of landscapes in favour of creating works that expressed the feelings that the landscapes evoked. The paintings that the Group of Seven produced are therefore quite striking and memorable.

Humber Flats by J.E. H. MacDonald

J.E.H. MacDonald - Humber Flats (1912) 
Photo provided by the Art Gallery of Algoma

Although the group did much of their work painting landscapes in Algonquin Park, some of their most famed pieces were created during the number of years they spent hiking and painting in Algoma. During the summers between 1918 and 1922, the group rented a boxcar from the Algoma Central Railway and spent their time exploring, seeking inspiration, and painting some of their most famous works.

Solemn Land

J.E. H. MacDonald - Solemn Land (1919) 
Photo provided by the Art Gallery of Algoma

Just up Highway 17, due north of Sault Ste. Marie, is where the Group found themselves inspired by the scenery and spirit of the North. The locations they famously memorialized in art include several areas in what is now the Lake Superior Provincial Park, including Sand Lake and Agawa River.

Fall rounding lake

Photo provided by CN/Algoma Central Railway

Long after the five-year period in which the Group of Seven spent summers painting the Algoma region, many of its members continued to find inspiration in the area. A.Y. Jackson frequented the Algoma region well into the 1960s, returning time after time to find inspiration in the rugged, yet beautiful terrain to the north of Sault Ste. Marie.

Fall View Lookout in Canyon park

Photo provided by CN/Algoma Central Railway

Decades after the Group gained national acclaim for their unique representations of the Canadian wilderness; they still continue to influence new generations of great Canadian painters. These paintings resonate in the minds of many as the best representations of the beloved Canadian landscape.

How You Can Follow Their Trail

The famed artists' many pieces inspired by the area are uniquely Algoma, representing natural scenes that can only be found in this Northern region. Thanks to the Agawa Canyon Tour Train and Algoma Central Railway train trips from Sault Ste. Marie, you can travel on the same rails that took members of the Group to their various painting sites along the ACR, almost a century ago.

Visit www.groupofseven.ca and discover how one family went on a 30-year quest to discover the breathtaking landscapes where the Group painted. Hear their stories, see 200 works of art, letters, photographs, and objects.

The Art Gallery of Algoma features several works from the Group.

About Jasmyn Rowley

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Jasmyn’s love of communication, media & public relations literally took her across the country to pursue her passion. Recently returning to Sault Ste. Marie from Vancouver, she continues to develop her talents and expand her expertise in media and publicity.

Jasmyn has been working in media and broadcasting for over eight years, on both sides of the camera, as both an on-air journalist and behind the scenes in a production and PR capacity. Jasmyn’s various roles in the industry include work as a news anchor, reporter, producer and news writer for broadcast television and radio; for which she was honored with numerous awards over the years, including CTV News Writer of the Year, Most Promising Current Affairs Producer, and Most Promising Reporter of the Year.

In addition to her background in media, Jasmyn has built a vast portfolio in the public relations realm. She has completed a variety of results-driven publicity campaigns for clients, including top actors, musicians, authors, television and film productions, and high-profile red carpet events. One of the most notable projects she has worked on included coordinating a series of Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic red carpet victory parties.

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