An Officer of the Order of Canada, and arguably one of Canada's most gifted storytellers, Kanata resident Roy MacGregor unveils the truth surrounding artist Tom Thomson in his latest book, Northern Light.
What's the book about?
It's a love story. It's a story of Winnifred Trainor, who was connected to my family, and her husband-to-be, Tom Thomson, who died in July 1917 in Algonquin Park. It's the story of two tragedies. One is the death at Canoe Lake, and the other, the life she was left with after he was gone. It's also a full biography of Tom Thomson and it contains some remarkable revelations using CSI-style science to prove once and for all where Tom Thomson is buried and where he is found today.
Why are Canadians so fascinated with Tom Thomson's story?
It's got many factors -- the death at a very young age of a very handsome, dark, mysterious man, and the other is his art. His art is familiar to all Canadians, it's iconic and symbolic to Canada. You can't separate the art and the mystery and it feeds off of each other to make Tom Thomson an artist in this country without parallel.
It's also the romance. Women fell head over heels in love with him and he died at the height of his powers. He has a James Dean quality to him.
Where's the mystery in the Thomson story?
Tom Thomson has always been a two-pronged mystery to Canadians. One of the greatest mysteries of all time was how he died. Some people think it was an accident, some people think it was a suicide and some people think it was murder. The second part of the Tom Thomson mystery is where he was buried.
You have a family connection to Tom Thomson. Did it make the book harder to write?
I've only had one falling out with one member of the family. I believe that it is entirely possible that poor Winnifred was left pregnant when Tom died. Some members of the family choose not to entertain that possibility. Family connection gave me enormous privilege. My grandfather was a park ranger who knew Tom Thomson.