Fine Weather, Georgian Bay, J.E.H. MacDonald, 1913, oil on canvas (courtesy private collection).

A new exhibition at England’s Dulwich Picture Gallery has been attracting long line-ups, which in itself isn’t a big surprise in a country where culture is considered to be an essential part of daily life. What is somewhat unexpected is that the subject of this minor blockbuster is the work of Canada’s Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.

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In 1966, I was living in Ottawa, briefly I hoped, with my parents. We had moved there after I completed a year of university in Edmonton where I had mostly grown up, and I was itching to be on my own, experience some freedom. And a taste of the lifestyle of the homeless, rootless traveller. Most of my friends back in Edmonton had hit the road after high school and scattered to the winds. I however, was stuck in a government job in Ottawa, trying to save enough money to leave the family shelter. The folk revival was in full swing, and a few years previously, Ian and Sylvia‘s “Four Strong Winds” had become a huge hit, capturing in its lovely harmonies the rootless, restless dreams of my generation.

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