Group of Seven Experience Route: Algoma Country, Sault Ste. Marie and The North Shore of Lake Superior
Visit Ontario’s Moments of Algoma, which includes Algoma Country and the North Shore of Lake Superior to experience the transcendental landscapes that inspired some of their best-known art and to understand their development as individual artists and as a ‘group’.
Note: Permanent collections are selections of art owned by the gallery and not the complete scope of the artists' collection.
Key Stops, Attractions and Landscapes
1. Aubrey Falls Provincial Park
Located along Highway 129, view the Moments of Algoma interpretive sign in the shape of an artist’s stool and easel. Following the winding Mississagi River, watch for parking signs posted along the highway for the park. There is a short hike to the falls and it is well worth it. It’s a dam-controlled falls with seven different waterfall chutes. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the views!
Location: 85 kilometres north of Thessalon on Hwy 129
Connect to the canvas: waterfalls and the movement of water within the Algoma region are themes in J. E. H. MacDonald’s Agawa River, Algoma, c. 1920 from the Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Lawren S. Harris’ On the Agawa River, Algoma, c. 1919 from the National Gallery of Canada.
2. Bruce Mines
Appreciate the landscapes around Bruce Mines, about 65 kilometres east of Sault Ste. Marie on Highway 17. This small picturesque northern Ontario town is located on the shoreline of Lake Huron. Wander down to the waterfront and take in the view. An interpretive panel tells the little-known story of Tom Thomson in this area. The view you see was the subject of the painting on the panel.
Connect to the canvas: this area inspired Tom Thomson’s View Over a Lake, Shore with Houses, c. 1913, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
3. Algoma Scenic Flight Tours
Soar above the Algoma wilderness on a scenic aerial tour with the Sault Academy of Flights, and view numerous Group of Seven painting sites scattered below.
Connect to the canvas: spot the Batchawana Rapids and surrounding river system which helped to inform MacDonald’s painting study titled a variation on the name Batchawana Rapid, Algoma, c. 1920 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
4. Algoma Central Railway Station
Find a Moments of Algoma interpretive panel and replica handcart similar to the velocipede that was used to transport the painters up and down the rail lines at the Algoma Central Railway Station. The brand-new Train Station opened in September of 2021, during the fall run of the tour train. Make sure and take some time to tour the station with areas that pay homage to a new community space filled with Indigenous artwork and teaching elements, as well the Group of Seven, the ticket counter for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, and a microbrewery and restaurant. The new station is located in the Canal District.
5. Agawa Canyon Tour Train
Book a seat on this breathtaking, one-day, 184 km round trip train tour through the heart of Canada’s ruggedly beautiful landscape. The GPS triggered narration is available in five languages via wireless headsets.
Connect to the canvas: you’ll pass several sites captured by the Group of Seven, such as Algoma Country’s characteristic rolling hills, captured in J. E. H. MacDonald’s Algoma Hills, c. 1920, which was part of ‘A Like Vision’: The Group of Seven at 100, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, as well as the location of Lawren S. Harris’ study for Waterfall, Algoma Canyon, c. 1919 on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the Thomson Collection.
Location: 10 East Street, Sault Ste. Marie
6. Art Gallery of Algoma
Just a stone’s throw from the shoreline of the St. Marys River, this gallery’s permanent summer collection includes several Group of Seven site specific sketches and studies. Pick up unique Group of Seven-related books, calendars and memorabilia in the Gift Shop.
Location: 10 East Street, Sault Ste. Marie
7. Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site
This historic site depicts the domestic and political life of Charles Oakes Ermatinger between 1808 and 1870, in two of the oldest stone buildings northwest of Toronto.
Location: 800 Bay Street, Sault Ste. Marie
Connect to the canvas: the heritage site hosts special events, shows and themed dinners throughout the year, check its schedule for Group of Seven celebrations.
8. Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Interactive aviation museum dedicated to preserving the history of bush flying and forest protection.
Location: 50 Pim Street, Sault Ste. Marie
Connect to the canvas: experience the Algoma wilderness in the Flight Adventure Simulator to gain a sense of the rugged natural beauty that captivated the artists. The velocipede on display was used in the movie Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven.
9. The Machine Shop
This historic multi-use venue is home to the recreated boxcar #10557 featured in the TVO Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven documentary, and provides insight into how the Group would have lived while painting in remote, rail only access areas. The replica boxcar is located just steps away from the Algoma Tour Train Station in the Canal District of Sault Ste. Marie.
Location: 83 Huron Street, Sault Ste. Marie
Connect to the canvas: Autumn, Batchewana Lake, Algoma Sketches XXIX c. 1918 on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario by Lawren S. Harris is an example of the small painting study they completed during the day before returning to their boxcar.
10. Chippewa Falls Rest Stop
Comfortable facilities and a viewing bridge make this a popular spot to stretch your legs and take in the scenery. The falls are the halfway point of the Trans Canada Highway and was memorialized by A.Y. Jackson in his later years when he had a cabin in Wawa.
Location: Highway 17, Havilland
Connect to the canvas: this set of rapids inspired A. Y. Jackson’s sketch Stream Bed, Lake Superior Country c. 1955, National Gallery of Canada.
11. The General Store at The Voyageurs' Lodge and Cookhouse and Agawa Crafts and The Canadian Carver
Shop for Group of Seven and other art-inspired merchandise, as well as Indigenous arts and crafts.
Location: Highway 17 North, Batchawana Bay and Pancake Bay
12. Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park is quite unique as Highway 17 actually runs through the park and offers up some of the very best views of the north shore of Lake Superior. Before hiking the scenic lookouts along Awausee Trail or the Agawa River, stop in at the Visitor Centre for a Group of Seven display with an interpretive panel and replica railway handcart. Pick up a ‘painting box’ to express your own creativity when out on the trails.
Location: Highway 17 North
Connect with the canvas: learn about Lawren S. Harris’ Northern Lake, c. 1926 onsite, you can view the painting at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
13. Sandy Beach Eco-Interpretive Park
Along the shoreline of Sandy Beach at Michipicoten Harbour is an impressive Group of Seven interpretive installation. A.Y. Jackson was so enamoured with this place that he purchased a cottage on the shores of Michipicoten Bay near Sandy Beach. From 1955 to 1966 he made regular visits and explored the beauty of this area creating over 100 sketches and paintings during this time.
Connect to the canvas: stand in the spot where A.Y. Jackson was inspired to create Shoreline, Wawa, Lake Superior, c 1959, Hamilton Art Gallery.
14. Naturally Superior Adventures
Perched on the edge of Lake Superior at the mouth of the Michipicoten River, Naturally Superior Adventures offers guided paddling, hiking and photography workshops that showcase the landscapes and rivers captured by the Group of Seven and other artists. Look for special workshops with photographer, James Smedley.
Location: 8 kilometres south of Wawa
15. Pukaskwa National Park
Perched on the shoreline of Lake Superior, this national gem boasts splendid hiking, paddling and wilderness adventure. At Horseshoe Beach you will see the view made famous by A.Y. Jackson, Entrance to Puckasawa Bay. You will notice the name of the park, albeit similar, was different 50 years ago.
Location: south of Marathon
Connect to the canvas: the Moments of Algoma interpretive panel at Horseshoe Beach features A.Y. Jackson’s Entrance to Puckasawa Bay, c 1960, currently part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Algoma.
16. Marathon District Museum and Historical Society
Hear local stories and view photographs related to the Group of Seven.
Connect to the canvas: Lawren S. Harris’ Ice House, c. 1923 is part of an installation, the original hangs at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
17. Neys Provincial Park
The awe-inspiring vistas in this park drew the artists back to the area for many years. You too can experience unmatched views along the nine km, round-trip Pic Island Overlook Trail from Prisoner’s Cover to a gazebo. The haunting views of Pic Island in the distance from the gazebo will have you understand why Lawren Harris, over the years, completed over 50 sketches of this island plus some of his most famous paintings. Lawren Harris actually said that these landscapes “existed no where else in Canada.” For a unique elevated perspective, set out on an aerial tour with Wilderness Helicopters.
Location: Terrace Bay
Connect to the canvas: Pic Island was immortalized by Lawren S. Harris in many of his paintings and sketches, like Lake Superior Island, c. 1923 and Pic Island, Lake Superior, c. 1924.
18. The Coach House Motel
Once a bustling fishing and shipping port visited by the Group of Seven, the town of Coldwell Bay is now abandoned. Get a great view of Coldwell Bay from the Coach House Motel at Jackfish Lake, just 20 km east of Terrace Bay.
Location: ON-17, Jackfish
19. Terrace Bay Lighthouse
Take a selfie sitting on the artist’s stool at the base of the lighthouse at the Moments of Algoma interpretive panel, then climb up to take in the view. You will view the Slate Islands, a Group of Seven inspiration.
Lieu : Simcoe Plaza, Terrace Bay
Connect to the canvas: this view inspired Slate Islands, Lake Superior, c. 1921 by A.Y. Jackson.
20. Blaq Bear Eco Adventures and Self-guided Hiking Routes
Hike the trails to vistas that inspired members of the Group of Seven. Blaq Bear Eco Adventure Routes will set you up with a picnic lunch, transportation, park passes and directions to specific Group of Seven locations.
Tips and Resources
- Get a map and information on all the Moments of Algoma interpretive panels.
- Set the stage for your trip by watching Painted Land, In Search of the Group of Seven, White Pine Productions.
- Listen to Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ that tells the true story of the wrath of Lake Superior in November 1975 and pianist Glenn Gould’s 1981 interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which was influenced by the time he spent in Algoma between 1967 and 1975.
- Avid stamp collector? Find Canada Post’s collectible stamps issued in 1995 which feature Group of Seven paintings, three of which link with locations in Algoma.
- Some of these stops are seasonal, book ahead and double-check operating hours and dates to avoid disappointment.
- Contact Sault Ste. Marie Tourism for assistance with group itineraries.
Last updated: July 22, 2022