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visual art

A detail from a hitherto-unseen photo of Tom Thomson, at front of wagon, holding the reins. The image will be displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario Oct. 3.

Ninety-five years after his death, Tom Thomson remains the country's best known and most popular painter.

Yet for all this fame, both the artist's biography and the photographic record of his 39 years have remained sketchy – in fact, until earlier this year, when four heretofore unseen pictures of the elusive artist were discovered in a farmhouse near Barrie, Ont., there were fewer than 25 authenticated photographs of Thomson. The pictures belong to an unnamed family whose members have been visiting Canoe Lake, Thomson's death site, since 1907.

Two of the pictures, including the one featured with this story, are being unveiled Wednesday Oct. 3 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The evening event will mark the launch of, a website of 182 Thomson paintings created by the makers of the documentary West Wind: The Vision of Tom Thomson (airing Oct. 7, Bravo).

That's Thomson (far left in the photo) in the driver's seat of the wagon. The photo likely was taken between 1912 and 1917 at Canoe Lake's Mowat Lodge, Thomson's quarters during his spring, summer and fall visits.