Tuesday, October 8, 2013

grave post - Group of Seven

The McMichael Cemetery is the final resting place for six members of the Group of Seven, their spouses and the founders Robert and Signe McMichael. The consecrated cemetery was established in 1968 at the suggestion of A.Y. Jackson and A.J. Casson. The artists' granite gravestones evoking the landscape were carved by Canadian sculptor E.B. Cox.
[grey sign above]

Robert and Signe McMichael, founders of the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg Ontario
The story of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection begins in 1952, when Robert and Signe McMichael decided to purchase ten acres of land in the village of Kleinburg, Ontario. To the McMichaels, Kleinburg evoked images of the Canadian wilderness and a country retreat inspiring them to build a pioneer-style home they named Tapawingo(believed to mean "place of joy").
In 1965, the McMichaels offered to donate their collection– as well as their home and land – to the Province of Ontario. Some eight months later, in July of 1966, the “McMichael Conservation Collection of Art” officially opened.
Part of the gift agreement for the gallery was that the McMichaels would be buried on the grounds. They settled on a small grassy knoll with views of the river valleys, the woods and the distant roofs of the gallery. Later, the McMichaels arranged to have the Department of Highways bring carefully selected slabs of granite, blasted during road building in the artists’ beloved north country, to the site. They were carved by Canadian sculptor, E.B. Cox and used as grave markers. (from mcmichael.com)

Unfortunately, although the stones are beautiful examples of Canadian Shield rock (and these artists painted a lot of rocks, trees and lakes in their time), the names are now almost illegible. You can see some examples of their paintings here

  • Arthur Lismer (1885‐1969) died in Montreal, Quebec on March 23, 1969 and was brought to Kleinburg for burial on April 25, 1969. His wife Esther (1879‐1976) was buried with him.

A.J. Casson 
Alfred Joseph Casson (1888-1992) died on February 19, 1992 in Toronto and was buried on February 20, 1992. His wife, Margaret (1900‐1992) is buried with him
Lawren Harris
Lawren Stewart Harris (1885‐1970) died in Vancouver, British Columbia on January 29, 1970 and was cremated. His ashes, along with those of his wife, Bess (1889‐1969), were interred at the McMichael on March 20, 1970.

F.H. Varley              

  • Frederick Horsman Varley (1881‐1969) died on September 8, 1969, was cremated on September 13 and interred the following week.

A.Y. Jackson 

  • Alexander Young Jackson (1882‐1974) died on April 5, 1974 and was buried in a graveside service on April 8, 1974.

you may have notice that I cannot count properly and seem to have missed the stone for Frank Johnson 
  • Frank Johnston(1888‐1949) died July 9, 1949 and was originally buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto. He was disinterred and reinterred at the McMichael on March 13, 1975. His wife, Florence, is buried with him.
you may also notice that there are only six of the seven buried here.
One who is missing, is Tom Thomson who died in 1917 at age 39 under mysterious circumstances on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. His body has never been found.



  1. Such a fascinating post and such beautiful markers for each grave. Casson had a good innings, 104!

    Beneath Thy Feet

    1. oops! that didn't seem right...... my bad. Casson was born in 1898.

  2. I think that is how the artists would have wanted it....their names absorbing slowly into the rock and becoming one with it.

    1. you could be right. that is an artistic sentiment I'll never understand. I guess I get to attached. but they loved nature, and nature is always changing.

  3. Ooh, ooh, I've been there - and 18 years later I've still got the 'McMichael' embroidered baseball cap to prove it! Good memories of a wonderful holiday with a Canadian friend.

    1. You've done better than me. I've lived here my whole life and only visited for the first time two years ago! it is a beautiful setting.

  4. Wow - how interesting! I like that they are all rough-hewn stone. Great post --- thanks for sharing on Taphophile Tragics!

  5. I don't know why--but I've always been drawn to graveyards. I guess a bunch of vandals went up to Oregon City (Oregon) Pioneer Cemetery and broke a bunch of old tombstones. SO wrong.


Glad you stopped by. For anyone who stumbled here, don't be shy to say 'hi' and let me know you've visited!