Biography of George Thomson 


George was the elder brother of Canadian icon, artist Tom Thomson who famously painted out of Algonquin Park and inspired the Group of Seven. While not as widely recognized as his famous brother, George’s paintings are part of public collections such as the National Art Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

George was also the brother that came to Algonquin Park after that fateful day in July 1917 to help search for his brother Tom. He gathered up many of the Tom Thomson paintings that Tom had left in the park. There is a family story that George kept a bushel basket full of tom’s small sketches (paintings) in his back shed for years until a book of Tom’s work was produced at which time the paintings got moved to the attic.

When George Thomson was 21 years old he left home in Leith Ontario and moved to Seattle to start, with his partner Frank McLaren, the Acme Business School. At various times his brothers Tom, Henry and Ralph studied there. 

George eventually left the business 10 years later and moved to New York to study art at the Art Students League with the idea of becoming an artist. He became a member of the National Academy of Design in New York as well as the Art Institute of Chicago. Afterwards, George moved to New Haven to study at the Lyme Art Colony where he lived with his second wife Jean Telford for a decade. He worked part time jobs and regularly painted and sold paintings in the US where he was seen an American artist. 

In 1926, George and Jean moved back to Owen Sound and into the Telford family home on 8th avenue. This is the address that George listed on the back of the painting currently listed for sale. George continued to paint in Owen Sound and the surrounding countryside for the rest of his life. He became an active member of the Ontario Society of Artists as well as the Royal Canadian Academy of Art, participating in shows from 1918 to 1950. 

 The day before George died, in 1965, he was out sketching with his brother Fraser at Lion’s Head and Barrow Bay. He was 97 years old at the time, known widely as the oldest practicing professional artist in Canada.

© Canadian Art Online 2018