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The mystery of Tom Thomson

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Arguably Canada’s greatest painter, Tom Thomson drowned in Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park in 1917. He was last seen setting out across the lake on a fishing trip, but a few hours later his empty canoe was spotted bobbing around on the water and his body was finally discovered one week later. No one knows what happened to Thomson – and his death may well have been an accident – but he was an expert canoeist and an experienced backwoodsman, skills that would seem to make his accidental death unlikely. The result has been all sorts of theories to explain his early demise – from the conceivable (suicide) to the bizarre (shot by a World War I deserter hiding in the woods). Whatever the truth, there’s a cairn monument to Thomson overlooking Canoe Lake a forty-minute paddle from the Portage Store.

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