Arthur Lismer (Canadian, 1885–1969), Temagami, Portage, 1945. Oil on canvas. 52.5 x 65 cm.
Lake Temagami, on which Portage Bay is located, gets its name from Te-mee-ay-gaming, which means "deep water by the shore" in Anishinaabe. Lake Temagami is world renown for its clear deep waters, its sweeping ‘fingers’ stretching over 1,000 km of shorelines and its approximately 1,259 islands. It is also home to one of Ontario's last remaining old-growth forests. Carved into the beautiful Canadian Shield, this lake is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Ontario’s wilderness.
The bold colours, messy details, and fantastical nature of Temagami, Portage are a beautiful example of the post-impressionist style that the Group of Seven is known for. Here Lismer lets the strong blue of the water call to you through the dense woods. The bright orange canoe lying upturned on the banks of the lake draws the eye into the painting, inviting the viewer to come swim or paddle along the deep blue waters.
Translated into Ojibwe by Duane Paul of Bear Island, Temagami First Nation
Lismer’s first trip north with fellow artist Tom Thomson made a great impact on his life and art. He said, “The first night spent in the North and the thrilling days after were turning points in my life ... the bush, the trails, lakes, waterfalls ... moving camp from one wonderful lake to another … portage and tent pitching, fishing and sketching … and above all, the companionship of a great individual, a wonder with canoe, axe and fish line.”
It is fitting that the site of Temagami, Portage is now located in Finlayson Point Provincial Park as many locations chosen by the Group of Seven have become provincial and national parks. This is a testament to the significant contribution the Group of Seven has made to environmental conservation in Canada.
We have four other locally-inspired works of art from the Group of Seven that we would like to tell you about:
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