Growing up spending summers on Canoe Lake, the tales of Tom Thomson, one of Canada’s famous painters and a predecessor to the famous Group of Seven, ran deep around the campfire.

“In 1970, Judge William Little’s book, The Tom Thomson Mystery, recounted how—in 1956—Little and three friends dug up Thomson’s original gravesite, in Mowat Cemetery on Canoe Lake. They believed that the remains they found were Thomson’s. In the fall of 1956, medical investigators determined that the body was that of an unidentified Aboriginal. Utilizing, in part, the Great Unsolved Mysteries site transcriptions, Canadian newspaper columnist Roy MacGregor has described his 2009 examination of records of the 1956 remains unearthed by William Little (the remains have been reburied or lost) and concluded that the body was actually Thomson’s, indicating “that Thomson never left Canoe Lake.” – Wikipedia, Tom Thomson.

You can read the account from William T. Little and the adventure with Jack Eastaugh, Frank Braught and Leonard “Gibby” Gibson on “A Sketching Expedition and a Bizarre Development”.

In all my summers on the lake, I hadn’t yet had the chance to seek out the Mowat Cemetery and visit the site I believed to be the true resting place of the famous painter. Last weekend was my first chance to paddle over, hike the trail, and make it to the top of the hill with the picket fence and 130 year old birch tree.






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Curious…I’ve never seen or read anything to this particular point…but even in 1956…was it not illegal to take it upon yourself to dig up a grave in a cemetary, no matter how obscure or forgotten the cemetary might be?

Hi Dave,
The first photo in the article is where we beached our canoe and accessed the road. It’s north of Little Wapomeo Island, then north of a couple cottages on the point, tucked in a slightly swampy bay on the west side.
Safe travels,

Hi Mike. Thanks for these great photos. I plan to walk the trail with two friends Sept 8, 2021, in a few weeks. Any tips on how to/where to access it off Canoe Lake? Landmarks or shoreline sights, etc?

Thanks for sharing. Funny how I’ve paddled this lake many times but never took the time to find the cemetery. I’ve got to do it. I will!

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