Group of Seven Discovery Route: Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley

One canoer paddles past a vast cliff on a calm lake at sunset

Ottawa is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the Group of Seven and its role in Canadian history. Coupled with journeys into the Ottawa Valley and Bon Echo Provincial Park’s views, visitors can immerse themselves in the landscapes and waterways that appear in the artists’ work.

Prior to travel, please contact the individual galleries and businesses to ensure you have the most up-to-date opening dates, times and other pertinent information due to COVID-19. Stay safe and healthy.

 

Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.

Many tourism experiences require advance bookings or have restrictions in place due to COVID 19. It is important to check directly with the business operator before you travel. Get the most up-to-date information now.

Key Stops, Attractions and Landscapes on the Group of Seven Discovery Route in Ottawa and Ottawa Valley

1.  Lake Clear, just west of Eganville

Take Highway 41, south of Highway 60, then travel west along County Road 512 to reach this lovely body of water on Buelow Road.

Connect to the canvas: follow the beach path to find the exact location where A.Y. Jackson created Lake Clear, c. 1962, Private Collection. Half an hour west, explore Palmer Rapids to find a similar waterscape that inspired A.J. Casson’s graphite sketch Madawaska, Palmer Rapids, c. 1952, housed at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

2.  National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa

Works by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven are prominently displayed at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) and, at 2500 in number, are pivotal elements of the National Collection. One of the most recognizable images is Tom Thomson’s The Jack Pine, c. 1916-1917, an icon in Canadian art. Get the behind-the-scenes-scoop on a guided tour that features commentary and highlights of the National Collection.

3.  Ottawa Art Gallery, 50 Mackenzie King Bridge, Ottawa

Head to the Firestone Reverb Exhibition for contemporary works and historical heavyweights, including Franklin Carmichael, J.E.H. MacDonald and Lawren Harris in (Re) Collecting the Group of Seven: Celebrating 100 Years (January 18, 2020 – January 23, 2022), commemorating the 100th anniversary of the group. On May 7, 1920, the Group of Seven held their first art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario). Although they disbanded by the end of the decade, they have had a lasting impact on Canadian Art development for a century and continue to attract collectors on an international scale.

4.  A.Y. Jackson Trail, Springtown to Algonquin Park

Follow the map for the A.Y. Jackson Trail that winds between Springtown, near Calabogie to Algonquin Park. Don’t miss the view from the Calabogie Lake Lookout on Barrett Chute Road.

Tom Thomson completed multiple paintings in and around the community of Petawawa in 1916, including Petawawa, Algonquin Park and Autumn, Petawawa, both on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The outdoor mural Petawawa Gorges on the west side of Algonquin Outfitters Store in Huntsville is part of the Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery and makes an excellent link between the Gallery to Landscapes Discovery Routes.

5.  A.Y. Jackson Park, 1102 Bridge Street, Manotick

Head south of Ottawa, along Highway 417 to Manotick, a community Jackson lived in from 1955 to 1962. Learn more about his time here at the riverside park.

Connect to the canvas: A.Y. Jackson’s paper sketch Manotick Evening, c. 1956, part of the Firestone Collection at the Ottawa Art Gallery, demonstrates how he used notations and numbers for reference on the final piece.

A tour boat cruises past a vast cliff wall

6.  Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park, north of Kaladar

Most of the Group of Seven members gravitated to paint and sketch at this natural attraction. In search of the best view, some even climbed to the top of Mazinaw Rock, which is 100 metres high. Explore Upper Mazinaw Lake on the guided Wanderer Tour Boat, or you can rent a canoe or kayak to paddle over to Mazinaw Rock. Note: the Wanderer Tour Boat is closed until next season, so plan for 2022.

Tips and Resources 

  • Watch the National Film Board production on A.Y. Jackson entitled the Canadian Landscape.
  • 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.
     

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