National Gallery of Canada
Thomson, MacDonald, Lismer, Varley, Johnston and Carmichael met as employees of the design firm Grip Ltd. in Toronto. In 1913, they were joined by A. Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris, with monetary support from Dr. James MacCallum. MacCallum owned land on Georgian Bay, and Thomson also worked as a guide in nearby Algonquin Park, where he and the other artists often travelled for inspiration.
This informal group was temporarily split up during World War I, during which Jackson and Varley became official war artists. A further blow to the group came in 1917 when Thomson died while canoeing in Algonquin Park. He appeared to have suffered a blow to the head, and showed no signs of drowning; the circumstances of his death are still mysterious.
However, the seven who formed the original group reunited after the war. They continued to travel throughout northern Ontario, especially the Muskoka and Algoma regions, sketching the landscape and developing techniques to represent it in art. In 1919 they began to call themselves the Group of Seven, and by 1920 they were ready for their first exhibition. Prior to this, many artists believed the Canadian landscape was either unpaintable or not worthy of being painted. Reviews for the 1920 exhibition were still mixed, but as the decade progressed the Group came to be recognized as pioneers of a new, Canadian, school of art.
The members of the Group began to travel elsewhere in Canada for inspiration, including British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and the Arctic. In 1926 the Group expanded with the addition of A. J. Casson, and the Group soon numbered 10 members with the additions of Edwin Holgate and LeMoine Fitzgerald.
The Group's influence was so widespread by the end of 1931 that they no longer felt it was necessary to continue as a separate group of painters. At their eighth exhibition in December, 1931, they announced they had disbanded, but also that a new association of painters would be formed, known as the Canadian Group. The Canadian Group held its first exhibition in 1933.