A later generation of artists settled in Toronto. They created an art school that not only reflected the Canadian landscape, but also emphasized the identity of this country. These artists became known as the Group of Seven. The roots of this artistic association go back to 1911, when the painting “At the Edge of the Maple Forest” by the Montreal artist AI Jackson was shown in Toronto. The vibrant color and special texture of his paintings amazed local artists. On their advice, Jackson moved to Toronto. Here he rented a studio together with other artists, admirers of his talent. Jackson became friends with self-taught artist Tom Thomson. Thomson grew up in the village, knew how to fish, canoe and shoot a gun. Thomson’s gruff style later became more sophisticated, influenced by Jackson and other artists who admired his bold technique.
Rich patron of artists, Dr. James McCullum, has given them his summer residence in the Georgian Bay area. McCallum, along with the wealthy artist Lauren Harris, who was patronized by the Massey-Harris engineering firm, also provided the artists with a famous studio building overlooking Toronto’s Rosedale Gorge. Thomson lived in seclusion in a small hovel next to the studio. There, the artist worked on the creation of his most beautiful oil paintings, which he did in nature. Among these paintings were the most beloved among Canadians – “West Wind” and “Pine Banks”. Thomson drowned in 1917. His death was a shock to his friends. However, in 1920 they founded the Group of Seven. In addition to Jackson and Harris, it included Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, Franklin Carmichael, and J.I.H. MacDonald. In their paintings, they portrayed the wildlife of the Canadian Shield in the same energetic manner that was characteristic of Thomson. Varley excelled in portraiture. Carmichael depicted not only natural landscapes, but also the countryside, as well as mining villages. Harris created landscapes of the North in a primitivist style, and later moved on to abstract art.