Group of Seven Experience Route: Greater Toronto Area
They worked in the Toronto area as graphic artists by day and landscape painters by night, completing paintings they captured during their travels in studios.
It’s no wonder that two major galleries in the region; the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, provide you with an incredible opportunity to connect the art on the walls by the Group of Seven with the landscapes and cityscapes that inspired them.
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 on the Group of Seven Experience Route in the Greater Toronto Area
1. Lawren Harris Park
The small park on the sound side of Rosedale Valley Road features a plaque that displays one of Lawren Harris’ works and a short bio.
Location: 145 Rosedale Valley Road, Toronto
Connect to the canvas: although renowned for their depictions of the remote Canadian wilderness, members of the Group of Seven also sketched and painted outdoor urban scenes, such as Lawren Harris’ Toronto Street (Houses) in the Hart House Collection and Early Houses, c. 1913 McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
2. The Studio Building
Located next to Lawren Harris Park, this National Historic Site served as a living and working studio for several of the Group of Seven for just $22 per month! The building was designated a National Historic Site of Canada for its significance as a venue and gathering place where the distinctly Canadian style art was developed. Since 1913 many notable artists utilized this studio including the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson.
Location: 25 Severn Street, Toronto
Connect to the canvas: the artists still found nature within bustling urban locations, as demonstrated in Arthur Lismer’s Our Garden, Bedford Park, Toronto, c. 1926, Art Gallery of Ontario and J.E.H. MacDonald’s Thornhill-Pine Tree and Fields, c. 1924, Ottawa Art Gallery.
3. Arts and Letters Club of Toronto
During their time working as graphic artists at Grip Ltd., the Group of Seven met frequently in the ‘Great Hall’ for lunch at this heritage building near Young and Dundas Square. Today the club functions as members-only but you can view their extensive collection of sketches by Arthur Lismer online.
Location: 14 Elm Street, Toronto
Connect to the canvas: another example of commissioned works in Toronto is Arthur Lismer’s large scale mural Explorers and Builders of Canada, c. 1927-1932, housed inside Humberside Collegiate in Etobicoke.
4. Art Gallery of Ontario
Formerly the Art Gallery of Toronto, this is the site of the first ever exhibit as a Group in 1920. The Canadian Collection features numerous works of art the Group of Seven created while exploring Toronto and beyond. Find unique Group of Seven gifts, books and souvenirs in the gift shop.
Location: 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Connect to the canvas: explore approximately 300 works by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson in the permanent Thomson Collection.
5. Ontario College of Art & Design University
Most of the Group of Seven members were students, instructor or staff when this university was known as the Ontario College of Art. Today, the modernist addition to the original historic building is called the A.J. Casson Wing.
Location: 100 McCaul Street, Toronto
6. EY Tower (formally the Concourse Building)
In the heart of downtown Toronto, a colourful mosaic created by J.E.H. MacDonald in 1928 greets visitors at the entrance to the building.
Location: 100 Adelaide Street West, Toronto
7. St. Anne’s Anglican Church
MacDonald, Varley and Carmichael were commissioned to paint murals in St. Anne’s Anglican Church in 1923, a National Historic Site just north of Dundas Street West. These are the only known religious works by the group. One-hour guided tours are available on the first Sunday of each month at 11:45 a.m., gathering at the back of the church. It’s a 45-minute tour and you are welcome to take photographs. Occasional custom group tours are available but call ahead for availability. Video tours are also available.
Location: 270 Gladstone Avenue, Toronto
8. Group of Seven Bike Trail
Start your ride at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection after visiting the gallery and the Group of Seven paintings. Viewing their beautiful artwork will have you appreciating the areas and notable stops on this route with a renewed sense of adventure. New in 2021, this 72-km route has diverse points of interest and a mix of surfaces that is suitable for recreational riders. Downloadable bike map available.
Location: Kleinburg to Vaughan
Connect to the canvas: see if you can determine where A.J. Casson’s painting entitled Kleinburg c. 1929 (on display at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection) took inspiration from during the scenic ride on this part group of the seven experience route.
9. McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Home to a significant collection of works by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, their contemporaries and Indigenous Peoples, this gallery is an integral page in the Group of Seven narrative. Learn about the artists, their inspirations and the profound mark they’ve left on the landscape of Canadian art.
Browse and buy Group of Seven merch in the Gallery Shop and visit the Thomson Shack, a reconstructed version of the original, that was located next to the Group of Seven studio in Toronto.
An interpretive installation leads to the Group of Seven Artist Cemetery. Initially conceptualized by Jackson and Casson in 1967, this cemetery is the final resting place for six of the seven members and their spouses. Slabs of granite blasted from northern road construction were transported to the cemetery so that the Group of Seven members would always have a piece of the north with them on their journey. A cairn and tombstone memorializing Tom Thomson can be found in Leith, Ontario and within Algonquin Park.
Location: 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg
Tips and Resources
- Parkbus provides day and overnight trips to and from Toronto and Ottawa, Algonquin Park, Killarney Park, Georgian Bay and Tobermory.
- Some of these stops are seasonal, book ahead and double check operating hours and dates to avoid disappointment.
Last updated: July 22, 2022