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Following in the Footsteps
of the Group of Seven

May 22 to September 6, 2010

Following in the Footsteps of the Group of Seven
celebrates the inspiration of the Canadian landscape. This exhibition traces the work of Jim and Sue Waddington who have a passion for locating the actual sketching sites for artworks by members of the Group of Seven, including Franklin Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson, A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, and J.E.H. MacDonald. Juxtaposing the original artworks with photographs taken by the Waddingtons in the La Cloche Hills in Killarney where these Group members camped, canoed, portaged and sketched, the show will allow visitors to examine iconic images of the northern Ontario landscape and discover the real inspiration behind them. It will provide insight into the working methods and distinct personalities of the artists through the circumstances surrounding their trips—climate conditions, the physical challenges faced, methods of travelling, and choice of location. Viewers will observe how the Canadian landscape has changed in the past century by comparing the artistic interpretations by the Group in the early to mid-twentieth century with photographs from the present day.

This exhibition is developed by McMichael curators, Sharona Adamowicz-Clements and Linda Morita, in collaboration with the Waddingtons. It will feature major canvases, oil sketches and pencil drawings, as well as archival materials, drawn from both public and private collections.

The Waddingtons’ story also inspired the McMichael to develop an innovative Web 2.0 project that launched in December 2009. FootPrints: Legacy of the Group of Seven takes its online visitors through the adventures of Jim and Sue, and into the McMichael’s story where over 200 unique art objects can be viewed. A Community Forum is also on the site, designed to promote visitor engagement with the McMichael and encourage Canadians to share how art and nature have become part of their lives. Log on to today and share your passion for Canada and its beautiful landscapes that inspired some of our most revered works of art!


Jim and Sue Waddington
Jim Waddington, a retired professor, and his wife Sue, a retired nurse and homemaker, have found a new full-time calling as they search for the painting sites of the Group of Seven artists. Both were born and raised in southern Ontario, and eventually settled in Hamilton where Jim taught Physics at McMaster University from 1970 to 2004. As children, Jim and Sue were outdoor enthusiasts. Later with their own family, they began camping in 1968, canoeing in 1972 and eventually orienteering in 1975. At the same time, they made their first visit to the McMichael gallery in the early 1970s. All of their interests coalesced in 1977 when they set out to find the exact painting location of A.Y. Jackson’s Hills, Killarney, Ontario (Nellie Lake) in order for Sue to do some research before undertaking a rug-hooking project.

The Waddingtons have camped in every province in Canada but Killarney Provincial Park remains a special place for them. They focus much of their effort on locating sites where Group of Seven sketches for paintings were done in the La Cloche Hills in Killarney. On a typical canoeing trip, they might spend the entire first day paddling and portaging (with 160 pounds of camping gear including a lightweight tent, dehydrated food, clothing, a canoe, and other equipment), before setting up camp for the night. Subsequent days would be filled with hiking, climbing the hills, and more canoeing and portaging to investigate potential locations and photograph them.


A Little Bay in La Cloche Channel

A.J. Casson, (1898–1992)
A Little Bay in La Cloche Channel, c.1958
oil on canvas
68.6 x 83.8 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W.E. McGillivray
McMichael Canadian Art Collection

La Cloche Channel. Photograph by Jim Waddington
La Cloche Channel. Photograph by Jim Waddington, courtesy of Sue and Jim Waddington.



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