If you have never known of or had the opportunity to visit the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, you must add a visit to this hidden Canadian gem to your to-do list and make it a point to follow through.
The McMichael has existed since 1848, but unlike downtown Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario (built in 1900), this art gallery is buried in the vast natural landscape of the quaint village of Kleinburg, Ontario.
Compared to galleries like the AGO, the McMichael has a very rustic, cozy, and peaceful atmosphere. The gallery is constructed of wood and stone and has the appearance of a Swiss chalet up in the ski slopes.
The artwork that the McMichael Collection showcases is purely Canadian. In addition to ongoing exhibits, the McMichael also collaborates with other galleries across Canada to organize special exhibitions throughout the year. From November 3 to January 6, McMichael amazed many visitors with “Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven”.
As part of the exhibition, the McMichael welcomed visitors with tours that took them throughout the grounds and within the gallery. On the tour they learned that the McMichael family planted all the trees that now stand on the gallery grounds in honour of the Group of Seven (intentionally choosing the types of trees the group featured in their paintings). You would also be informed of Tom Thomson’s story and how he inspired the Group of Seven. When the other artists met Thomson, he shared with them his personal utopia and source of inspiration: Ontario’s Algonquin Park. He spent the majority of his life observing and analyzing all the intricate details of the park’s vast beauty. After the group was introduced to this natural Canadian heaven, they devoted their careers along with Thomson to capturing the majestic landscapes of Northern Ontario and other parts of Canada.
Even to simply go on a pleasant nature hike through the many paths can be rewarding. Imagine seeing the flowers blooming in spring, having a picnic in summer, watching the leaves change colour in autumn, and, at present, seeing the sunlight reflect the colours of the rainbow on the snowy grounds. You might be filled with inspiration to go home and capture that beauty on canvas—as the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson did many decades ago.