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December 23, 2010

More Books Worth a Look 2010

I usually write about history and occasionally about art. There are some fine new art history books available that would make ideal Christmas gifts for you or the artist on your list. 

Roy MacGregor with deep roots in Algonquin Park and Huntsville has taken a break from his work at the Globe & Mail to write about the ongoing mystery of Tom Thomson – Canada’s most famous painter. MacGregor has been researching the story for 30 years and knew Winnie Trainor who played such an important part in Thomson’s life. 

Cover of Roy MacGregor’s book on Tom Thompson 2010

MacGregor wrote a novel about Thomson called Cahoe Lake, originally published as Shorelines years ago but has now written a fascinating non-fiction book. The cause of Thomson’s death at age 39 on 17/7/17 is not fully solved but a clear position is taken on Thomson’s love life. It is rich in detail and  reads like a mystery book. 

The book-Northern Light- reads according to a Globe & Mail review as “a biography, mystery, travelogue and forensic investigation”. 

I had a special interest in the book because I have written several articles on Thomson. In one I talked about a story I got from Ken Cooper in South River whose mother was a daughter of Tom Wattie a Park Ranger who befriended Thomson. A quantity of camping gear was left with Tom Wattie by Thompson in 1917. They were going on a trip together.  

MacGregor found this a significant factor in his theory about Thomson’s life. We exchanged a couple of emails and he mentioned me in the book noting that no previous biographer had known about the cache of equipment. 

MagGregor, an award winning magazine and newspaper writer has been described as one of Canada’s “most gifted story tellers”. 

Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven 

Ross King a Governor General’s Award-winning author tells the story of the Group of Seven (and Tom Thomson) and their remarkable impact on Canadian Art.  Their modernist style developed in the wild and in studios in Toronto changed Canadian Art to the present day. 

I have read his articles in Walrus Magazine (Nov 2010) and read some of his critically acclaimed and best selling historical works. Check him out on Wikepedia. 

Painters Eleven The Wild Ones of Canadian Art 

If the Group of Seven changed Canadian art one of the the next groups that did the same was 11 painters (2 women and 9 men) who introduced abstract expressionism in Canada and were forerunners of a lot of the progressive work being done today.They called themselves The Painters Eleven. My wife, and expressionist painter for 40 years and I received the book as a gift from a good friend recently and we have spent hours reading and reminiscing. 

 Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones of Canadian Art. 2010

The book by Iris Nowell who was Harold Town’s partner ( one of the eleven) and is an excellent writer wrote the book. Unlike many art books this book profiles the artists in a frank and open and personal way and describes the groups seven years together and later impact on Canadian art.The reproductions are state of the art. 

One reference in the Alexandra Luke profile noted that Luke’s mentor was Dorothy Van Luven a long standing art teacher at O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Oshawa where Luke lived. When Van Luven retired my wife followed her as the art teacher there and had her first one person art show in Oshawa in 1965. 

Random Acts of Culture – Reclaiming Art and Community in the 21st Century  

 The book above written by my son Clarke is hot off the press and is receiving good reviews. Clarke teaches at Queen’s University in the Film Studies and Cultural Studies Departments. He has written the book based on his 30 years of research as a film maker and culture vulture. Google any of these books for further information.  All of the above books are available at Gullivers’ Books and Toys and other fine book stores and online 

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