National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 16, 1970

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Photographs by Tom Thomson

by Dennis Reid, Curator of Post-Confederation Art

Pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8

38 Miss Winifred Trainor, I 

Click figure 38 here for an enlarged image

39 Miss Winifred Trainor, II

Click figure 39 here for an enlarged image

Winifred Trainor, eldest daughter of Hugh Trainor, a foreman with the Huntsville Lumber Company, summered at Canoe Lake with her family, and there met Tom Thompson, probably in 1913. (25) Thomson developed a close relationship with the whole Trainor family, sometimes staying in their small cabin on the west side of Canoe Lake, just below Potter Creek. (26) By 1915, Thomson was visiting someone - probably Winifred Trainor - in Huntsville. (27) And by the time of his disappearance in July 1917, Huntsville was the only place outside of Algonquin College it was felt necessary to check as a part of the search. (28)

Since that time, a great many rumors have grown up around Thomson's relationship with Winifred Trainor. When she met Miss Trainor in Toronto after Thomson's death, Margaret Thomson reported that the young lady "spoke as though she thought a great deal of him." (29) If the Thomson family heard any reports of a more serious relationship, they appear to have discounted them. (30) But the rumour nevertheless persisted that Thomson and Miss Trainor were in fact engaged to be married. (31) In later years, the special place Miss Trainor had held in Thomson's affections was known by people who were acquainted with her in Huntsville. (32) Most recently, William Little, in his book on the death of Thomson, has attempted to establish the fact of their engagement. (33) But he is finally able to express only the opinion of Miss Trainor's nephew, who believes that they were engaged. The nephew refers to correspondence which gives "undisputable evidence that, Tom and my aunt were engaged to be married." (34) Unfortunately, this essential correspondence is not produced.

All questions aside as to the reciprocal nature of the commitments involved, there can be no question but that Winifred Trainor was very much in love with Tom Thomson. Writing in response to a query some thirty-seven years after his death, the depth of her feeling for the memory of Thomson was still eloquent : "I do not know what to write - as Tom Thomson was the man that made me happy then vanished. If I saw you I could say things that I will never write - His friendship to me was as true as ever when he went on to the great beyond - I still have his small pictures (gifts) - and what I gave up for him I should have had some of his others - but I was not treated fair, and bad nothing to do with his death-now my time will soon be in too." (35)

40 The grave of James Watson

Click figure 40 here for an enlarged image

The inscription (36) reads, upper portion:

In memory of Jas. Watson, the first white person to be buried at Canoe Lake. Died May 27, 1897, being one of about 500 employed at this camp by the Gilmour Company, aged 21 years.

The centre portion, pointed at by the engraved hand to the left, reads:

Remember, comrade, when passing by,
As you are now so once was I,
As l am now so you will be;

Prepare thyself to follow me.

Inscribed at bottom left is:

Engraved gratis by a comrade, W. C. McCain.

At the time Thomson took this photograph, this grave was one of the two, enclosed by a rude picket fence, which made up the Canoe Lake cemetery .The other grave belonged to an eight-year-old victim of diphtheria, Alexander Hayhurst, who was buried in 1905. (37)

The afternoon of 17 July 1917, Thomson himself became the third person to be buried in the Canoe Lake plot - about twenty-five feet from the Watson marker.

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