Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery Of Tom Thomson And The Woman Who Loved Him

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Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery Of Tom Thomson And The Woman Who Loved Him

by Roy Macgregor

Random House of Canada | October 5, 2010 | Hardcover

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
FINALIST 2011 - Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction

Roy MacGregor''s lifelong fascination with Tom Thomson first led him to write Canoe Lake, a novel inspired by a distant relative''s affair with one of Canada''s greatest painters. Now, MacGregor breaks new ground, re-examining the mysteries of Thomson''s life, loves and violent death in the definitive non-fiction account. Why does a man who died almost a century ago and painted relatively little still have such a grip on our imagination?

The eccentric spinster Winnie Trainor was a fixture of Roy MacGregor''s childhood in Huntsville, Ontario. She was considered too odd to be a truly romantic figure in the eyes of the town, but the locals knew that Canada''s most famous painter had once been in love with her, and that she had never gotten over his untimely death. She kept some paintings he gave her in a six-quart basket she''d leave with the neighbours on her rare trips out of town, and in the summers she''d make the trip from her family cottage, where Thomson used to stay, on foot to the graveyard up the hill, where fans of the artist occasionally left bouquets. There she would clear away the flowers. After all, as far as anyone knew, he wasn''t there: she had arranged at his family''s request for him to be exhumed and moved to a cemetery near Owen Sound.

As Roy MacGregor''s richly detailed Northern Light reveals, not much is as it seems when it comes to Tom Thomson, the most iconic of Canadian painters. Philandering deadbeat or visionary artist and gentleman, victim of accidental drowning or deliberate murder, the man''s myth has grown to obscure the real view - and the answers to the mysteries are finally revealed in these pages.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 416 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 1.18 in

Published: October 5, 2010

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307357392

ISBN - 13: 9780307357397

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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– More About This Product –

Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery Of Tom Thomson And The Woman Who Loved Him

Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery Of Tom Thomson And The Woman Who Loved Him

by Roy Macgregor

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 416 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 1.18 in

Published: October 5, 2010

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307357392

ISBN - 13: 9780307357397

Read from the Book

ONE TOM     Instead of a family tree, the Thomson family could be better represented by The Tangled Garden, a 1916 painting by Thomson’s friend and contemporary J.E.H. MacDonald. Tom’s paternal grandfather, Thomas “Tam” Thomson, was the offspring of a woman named Christian Davidson, who had been jilted and left pregnant by her lover. Tam had children with three different women, two of whom he might have been married to at the same time. The painter’s paternal great-grandmother had two children out of wedlock until the church forced her lover to marry her—shortly after which he fled Scotland for North America and vanished, never to be seen again by the family. Roots of discontent.   Tam Thomson, described as “a charming talker and devilishly handsome,” emigrated to Canada to seek employment, promising to support the two children—one named Thomas Thomson, Jr.—he was leaving behind with their mothers, Elizabeth Delgarno of Old Deer, whom he might have married but never divorced, and Sarah Allan of nearby Peterhead, who bore him Thomas. According to Angie Littlefield’s self-published The Thomsons of Durham , Tam came to this country and settled first around Whitby, where he courted and married Elizabeth Brodie, who’d also come to Canada from Scotland. It was in Whitby in 1840 that John Thomson, father of the painter, was born.   Tam Thomson later purchased a farm at nearby Claremont, north
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Table of Contents

Prologue
 
One | Tom
Two | Winnie
Three | The North Country
Four | Canoe Lake
Five | War
Six | Spring 1917
Seven | The Search
Eight | The Hand of Winnie Trainor
Nine | The Sealed Casket
Ten | Pointing Fingers
Eleven | Daphne
Twelve | Damage Control
Thirteen | A Child?
Fourteen | Life after Tom
Fifteen | The Dig
Sixteen | Revelation
Seventeen | The Power of Silence
Eighteen | Aftermath
Nineteen | Icon
Twenty | Jimmy's Truth
 
Epilogue
Acknowledgements
Selected bibliography
Photo permissions
Index

From the Publisher

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
FINALIST 2011 - Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction

Roy MacGregor''s lifelong fascination with Tom Thomson first led him to write Canoe Lake, a novel inspired by a distant relative''s affair with one of Canada''s greatest painters. Now, MacGregor breaks new ground, re-examining the mysteries of Thomson''s life, loves and violent death in the definitive non-fiction account. Why does a man who died almost a century ago and painted relatively little still have such a grip on our imagination?

The eccentric spinster Winnie Trainor was a fixture of Roy MacGregor''s childhood in Huntsville, Ontario. She was considered too odd to be a truly romantic figure in the eyes of the town, but the locals knew that Canada''s most famous painter had once been in love with her, and that she had never gotten over his untimely death. She kept some paintings he gave her in a six-quart basket she''d leave with the neighbours on her rare trips out of town, and in the summers she''d make the trip from her family cottage, where Thomson used to stay, on foot to the graveyard up the hill, where fans of the artist occasionally left bouquets. There she would clear away the flowers. After all, as far as anyone knew, he wasn''t there: she had arranged at his family''s request for him to be exhumed and moved to a cemetery near Owen Sound.

As Roy MacGregor''s richly detailed Northern Light reveals, not much is as it seems when it comes to Tom Thomson, the most iconic of Canadian painters. Philandering deadbeat or visionary artist and gentleman, victim of accidental drowning or deliberate murder, the man''s myth has grown to obscure the real view - and the answers to the mysteries are finally revealed in these pages.

About the Author

Roy MacGregor is the acclaimed and bestselling author of Home Team: Fathers, Sons and Hockey (shortlisted for the Governor General''s Literary Award); A Life in the Bush (winner of the U.S. Rutstrum Award for Best Wilderness Book and the CAA Award for Biography); and Canadians: A Portrait of a Country and Its People, as well as two novels, Canoe Lake and The Last Season, and the popular Screech Owls mystery series for young readers. A regular columnist at The Globe and Mail since 2002, MacGregor''s journalism has garnered four National Magazine Awards and eight National Newspaper Award nominations. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was described in the citation as one of Canada''s "most gifted storytellers." He grew up in Huntsville, Ontario, and has kept returning to the Tom Thomson mystery all his writing life. He lives in Kanata.

Editorial Reviews

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A Globe and Mail Best Book
 
"Roy MacGregor, one of Canada's top authors, unravels much of what is arguably the greatest Canadian mystery of all time in his latest book. . . . MacGregor has woven a convincing story." 
 - Toronto Star
 
"Part history, part true-crime investigation and part memoir, Northern Light is both scrupulously even-handed and deeply personal. . . . [MacGregor] has crafted a beautifully realized picture of a time and place."
 - Winnipeg Free Press
 
"It would be a shame to give too much detail from Northern Light because it is an intriguing, well-crafted piece of work blessed with all the natural elements of a great story: Fame, murder, lost love, shame, money, government deception and a drama played out against one of our country's most magnificent natural backdrops. What more could a reader ask for?"
 - Ottawa Citizen
 
"What happened to painter Tom Thomson is the greatest Canadian story never fully told. But now, thanks to Roy MacGregor, it has been."
 - David M. Shribman, The Globe and Mail (Best Book)
 
"The author does a masterful job of navigating through this thicket of possibilities, and comes to a conclusion that seems virtually unassailable."
 - Maclean's
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