More than one hundred years ago a group of seven intrepid artists travelled through dense forests and across harsh Canadian shield to capture the essence of the rugged and mysterious Canadian wilderness on their canvasses. From wind-swept panoramas to snow covered vistas, these artists created something that was unlike anything ever seen before in the art world – a purely Canadian style of art.

Using a patchwork of bright colours and varying textures, the Group of Seven eloquently captured the scenes that are so common in Canada; the muted shape of an evergreen laden with snow, the unique colouring of a weathered cliffside. These paintings evoked an inevitable comparison between the rugged nature of their art and the indomitable Canadian spirit.

It’s been 100 years since the Group of Seven formed, and the impact of their work continues today. Ontario’s Highlands is among the many Canadian landscapes the Group of Seven wandered: From the towering cliffs of Mazinaw Rock to the endless forests in the Ottawa Valley, the Group of Seven captured it all. Walk in the footsteps of these creative wanderers and be inspired by these seven experiences across Ontario’s Highlands.

Tour the A.Y. Jackson Trail

Where: Throughout Renfrew County
When: Self-guided, can be toured anytime.

 As a founding member of the Group of Seven, A.Y. Jackson’s work is well known for its distinctive composition and form. In his later years, Jackson spent time in the Ottawa Valley, travelling the winding roads of Arnprior, Burnstown, Barry’s Bay, Quadeville, Lake Clear, and beyond. Wander the A.Y. Jackson Trail and stand on the sites that inspired this great artist, close your eyes, and imagine what the experience was like for Jackson.

Bask in the Beauty of Bon Echo Provincial Park

When: May to October
Where: Bon Echo Provincial Park, Lennox & Addington

The brilliance of Bon Echo Provincial Park was well known to members of the Group of Seven, and the park was a frequent vacation spot for artists like Arthur Lismer, A.Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael, and more. Bring your camera or paint brush and easel and discover the scenes and vistas that so inspired these, and many other, artists.

Cruise to Mazinaw Rock

When: May to October
Where: Bon Echo Provincial Park, Lennox & Addington

The simple majesty of this escarpment will take your breath away, and has inspired more artists than the Group of Seven – the more than 260 pictographs have been found dotting the rugged cliff are a testament to its importance for thousands of years. Take an interpretive boat ride to get a closer look at the famous rock that inspired the Group of Seven, or bring a canoe or kayak and bob in the dark waters of Mazinaw Lake while you breathe in the beauty of the moment. Spend the night steeped in artistic beauty at the campground.

A couple paddling a canoe on a lake beneath a large outcropping.

Plein Air Painting with Yours Outdoors

When: Spring, Summer, Autumn
Where: Minden White Water Preserve, Haliburton Highlands

“En plein air” or open-air painting was new to the art world during the days of the Group of Seven, but the concept of creating in the midst of a natural landscape makes sense. What better way to experience this first hand than by wandering in the outdoors yourself? During an all-inclusive course with Yours Outdoors, local artist Harvey Walker leads aspiring artists on a short walk along the beautiful Gull River, and offer creative guidance on creating your own work of art. Walk away with your own masterpiece to remember the experience.

Learn More About Tom Thomson

When: Dates depend on location with performances in April and May
Where: Showings take place in Pembroke, Renfrew, Arnprior, Deep River, Almonte, Maynooth, and Barry's Bay

Watch the original musical, Tom Thomson & The Colours of Canada at Stone Fence Theatre in the Ottawa Valley. This ragtime performance will shed light on Tom Thomson's life, the women who loved him, and his mysterious death in Algonquin Park. 

Tour Oxtongue Lake

When: Year-round
Where: Oxtongue Lake, Haliburton Highlands

Wander to Oxtongue Lake and see for yourself the images that have inspired artists across the nation, and the same landscapes that can be found in galleries across Canada. Stop by the large-scale mural of A.J. Casson’s Oxtongue River and learn more about the illustrations made of the area by the Group of Seven. See if you can find the same inspirational spots along the rugged shoreline.


Dorset Heritage Museum Murals

When: Year-round
Where: Dorset, Haliburton Highlands

Stop by the small museum in Dorset for a glimpse of two outdoor murals based on the works of art by Frank Johnston. Pick up a brochure with more information about the site and the paintings found there.