Huntsville, Muskoka has always been a stepping-stone for the arts – and for incredible artists.
The untamed wilderness surrounding the picturesque town of Huntsville, Ontario has inspired adventurers and artists alike to explore both the landscapes and their own inner worlds.
No one was more moved by the area than legendary Canadian painter Tom Thomson. Thomson first visited Huntsville in the summer of 1912. He was enthralled with the myriad lakes and the granite of the Canadian Shield. That summer he traveled into Algonquin Park to capture the beauty of the nation’s oldest provincial park. When he returned to Toronto, the artwork he’d created overwhelmingly inspired a group of Canada’s most famous and influential painters – the artists who would become known as the Group of Seven. This group of friends and colleagues began joining Thomson on his annual trips to Huntsville and Algonquin Park, where they would spend several weeks exploring and painting the breathtaking scenes they encountered.
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Thomson’s mysterious and tragic death on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. Huntsville will spend the year paying tribute to Tom with many amazing events. They’ll also celebrate the huge contingent of artists who now call the area home, and who continue to be inspired by its charm and wild surroundings. With so many galleries, studios and art-themed events, Huntsville is the perfect destination for artists and art lovers alike.
Huntsville is home to the one-of-a-kind Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery – a series of outdoor installations that includes over 100 giant mural replicas of paintings by the famous artists. See these works as you have never seen them before, expertly enlarged and faithfully reproduced. Founded in 1997 by artistic director Gerry Lantaigne, the gallery has grown to include a full tour around Lake of Bays with stops at Deerhurst Resort, Port Cunnington Lodge and Resort, The Dorset Heritage Museum. Guided and self-guided tour options are available and can be tailored for a few hours or an entire weekend tour. While on the tour, be sure to visit the bronze statue of Tom Thomson (created by artist Brenda Wainman) that’s located at the Huntsville Civic Centre and Algonquin Theatre courtyard (also home to many Huntsville Festival of the Arts concerts).
There are many studios you can visit throughout Huntsville and the surrounding area. Eric Lindgren and his team at Lindgren Pottery have been creating stoneware pottery inspired by the local landscape for over 40 years. At the Windflowers Art Studio, Linda Harti creates unique abstract acrylic paintings. Ted Tiemessen, at his Think Muskoka Studio, creates original stain glass creations, many of which incorporate quartz and wood, while at the John Murden Art Gallery and Studio in the quaint town of Baysville, John Murden has been creating historical Muskoka paintings and landscapes in watercolour, as well as mixing photography and painting in unique ways, since moving to the area in the 1980’s.
There are also several local galleries with collections that display the finest works from some of the region’s resident artists and artisans. The Eclipse Art Gallery at Deerhurst Resort displays an eclectic collection of original Canadian Art. Historic downtown Huntsville plays host to the Two Horse Gallery, which showcases a stable of resident artists, and The Framing Place and Gallery, which also exhibits local artists. Also located downtown is Artisans of Muskoka – a store carrying artwork, gifts and keepsakes from up to 200 artists at a time.
Many events are planned to honour Tom Thomson in 2017, including Nuit Blanche North and the Artsists of the Limberlost Summer Studio Tour. See the full list of the 100th anniversary events on the here.
For the more adventurous, it is possible to travel to Algonquin Park and experience some of the physical locations in the story of Thomson and the mystery surrounding his death on Canoe Lake.