Canoeing and Painting in the Wild

Tom Thomson painting of his canoe

An iconic Tom Thomson painting entitled The Canoe 1912, Algonquin Park (Source: The Thomson Collection, The Art Gallery of Ontario)

Rock art painting in northern Saskatchewan

Northern Saskatchewan red ochre rock art painting on a granite cliff face depicting a man, a moose and a pipe (©canoeski).

Canoeing and painting go hand in hand with mystery and adventure in Canada’s northland. The ancient rock paintings on the rough canvas of the Canadian Shield are shrouded in mystery. Nobody really knows who created them and why. We have analyzed their indelible qualities and have an idea how the rock paintings have managed to last for centuries. We know that canoeing was the means for their creation. On Saskatchewan’s Churchill River, for example, that involved adventurous wilderness travel across large unprotected lakes, negotiating currents and rapids and hauling over rigorous portages.

But the mystery and adventure involving canoeing and painting doesn’t start or end with the early Aboriginal artists. Taking a historical leap forward to the early 20th century, we encounter a famous canoeist painter whose untimely death is still the subject of an unsolved mystery. Tom Thomson, revered artist associated with the prestigious Group of Seven painters, was an experienced canoeist and park ranger, and at age 39 he inexplicably drowned, was murdered, committed suicide, or succumbed to a fatal struggle all while canoeing in Algonquin Park, ironically on Canoe Lake! Thomson devotees are still trying to unravel the mystery of his demise, close to 100 years after.

Nicki Ault painting

“Thomson Clouds” a northern Saskatchewan plein air painting by Saskatoon artist Nicki Ault, inspired by Tom Thomson’s painting techniques. View her eye-catching work at her on-line gallery (image ©Nicki Ault).

However, in 2013 it’s the mystery of artistic expression that joins the adventure and romance of the Canadian wilderness in an exciting new canoeing and painting trip by CanoeSki. What’s up? Well, we’re taking a group of painters by canoe to a secluded wilderness retreat on a small remote lake in northern Saskatchewan. From base camp we’ll do daily paddling jaunts to scenic locations with prime painting potential. The camp is located a few air miles north of La Ronge in beautiful Lac La Ronge Provincial Park and is otherwise only accessible by boat. The landscape consists of  small waterways with rocky outcrops, and boreal forest typical of the Canadian Shield wilderness that once inspired artistic titans like Tom Thomson. It is bursting with stunning virtual paintings waiting to be actualized!

Most of the time will be dedicated to creating art, but other diversions are available at the camp besides canoeing, like swimming, hiking, fishing, etc. All details on the canoeing and painting trip are posted on the CanoeSki site at Canoeing and Painting in the Wild.

Book early – it already looks like a winner!

Update for 2014 – see the August 2013 slide show on Flickr!

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4 Responses to Canoeing and Painting in the Wild

  1. Zan Barrage says:

    I would love to know how this trip went. I am interested in doing a similar trip next summer (2014)

  2. Cliff says:

    Thanks for your inquiry/comment, Zan. The Painting in the Wild trip was a great success and aside from a wild thunderstorm on the way to our camp, the rest of the days were idyllic and conducive for creating lots of intriguing artwork. I’ve posted a few photos to facebook ( & will be working on a slide show to add to the canoeski site. I’ll retain your email for program updates/newsletters, if you wish. – Cliff.

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