Experience the Group of Seven in Sault Ste. Marie

By Sault Tourism

learn about our City's connection to this famous group of Canadian painters

The city of Sault Ste. Marie played an important role in bringing together Canada’s greatest art collective, the Group of Seven. Smitten by the beauty of this region, the Group of Seven, traveled to the city many times, capturing the landscapes with their beautiful brush strokes. Their explorations always resulted in beautiful sketches and paintings. Some of which are indeed their most famous. Visit Sault Ste. Marie and learn more about this special group of artists.

Agawa Canyon Tour Train

Book your seat on the narrated, one-day, round trip Agawa Canyon Tour Train and you’ll pass several sites captured by the Group of Seven while marvelling at the rugged beauty of the Canadian landscape.

View scenes that inspired some of the most famous works of art from the Group of Seven including The Solemn Land (based on Montreal River Harbour) and Algoma Waterfall (based on Bridal Veil Falls), by J.E.H MacDonald. The original sketch of The Solemn Land, painted after MacDonald first visited the area in 1918, is part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Algoma

When the train stops within the Agawa Canyon, hike towards Bridal Veil Falls where you’ll see the cascading tiers of water which inspired multiple sketches and paintings by members of the Group of Seven including Lawren Harris and the aforementioned J.E.H. MacDonald.

Group of Seven BoxCar

The” Soo”, as it’s known to locals, has embraced the regions “colourful” Group of Seven history, not only through the art in the gallery, but also embracing their rail history as well. For the artists and for you, Sault Ste. Marie will be the send off into the region. One hundred and one years ago, with no highways going north, the group utilized the railway, catching the train in Sault Ste. Marie.  Along this rail line they camped and paddled through the remote areas allowing them a feeling of peace and tranquility they could not find in the larger cities in southern Ontario. They came here to heal from the war and to try to make sense of the untimely death of their friend Tom Thomson.  But they did much more than heal, they found themselves, and their inspiration through the landscapes of this beautiful region. Much like the tourists of today, once the Group of Seven visited the first time, they came again and again.  

If you are riding the rails into Algoma on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, your departure will be the beautiful new train station.  But whether you are riding the train or not, the brand-new train station, as well as the rail car #10557, are a must do stop!  The bright red boxcar was recreated for the documentary, A Painted Land, In Search of the Group of Seven, and remains on display outside the train station.  It is a perfect replica of the rail car that the Group called home many times through their travels in Algoma.  It’s a perfect photo op for the true Group of Seven fan. 

Art Gallery of Algoma

As you travel through Algoma Country, in search of the Group of Seven’s inspirations, you would be remiss if you did not start your trip by visiting the Art Gallery of Algoma. Located on the St. Marys River, the Art Gallery of Algoma is home to a diverse permanent collection of artwork – including original pieces by members of the Group of Seven. Find an interpretive panel in the Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park near the boardwalk. 

The Art Gallery of Algoma’s permanent collection includes numerous Group of Seven site specific sketches and studies. Shop for Group of Seven related books, gifts, calendars and memorabilia in the gift shop. Be sure to visit the Gallery’s website for ongoing and rotating Group of Seven exhibits

Embark on the Group of Seven Driving Tour

You can experience their travels on the rail, and travel along the coastline of Lake Superior by vehicle on Highway 17 North. Starting just outside of Sault Ste. Marie at Chippewa Falls, and continuing along Ontario’s most beautiful coast to Nipigon/Red Rock you will find many sites and interpretive panels that will tell more of the story of the Group of Seven in this region.  Don’t travel fast but rather enjoy, explore, and pause.  You will gain a better understanding of why this area was a favourite of the Group of Seven.

You will discover that today, this region remains rich in beautiful forests, crystal clear lakes, and rivers still filled with plentiful fish and game. This area is so lucky that so many vistas painted by the Group remain untouched today.  There is a sense of beauty and serenity here that one must truly experience, much like the Group of Seven did just over a hundred years ago. 

Remember, memories are made through a gathering of great moments, seven men captured their moments in Algoma, it is time to capture yours. Learn more about the discovery route here

Drive north of the city along highway 17 and you’ll reach Chippewa Falls, the halfway point of Trans Canada Hwy 17. Visit this waterfall along the Lake Superior Circle Tour where painter A.Y. Jackson sketched the rapids which became “Streambed, Lake Superior Country”. Chippewa Falls also inspired J.E.H. MacDonald to paint ‘Batchewana Rapid‘.

The falls can be seen from the viewing bridge near the parking lot. To hike alongside the waterfall, please proceed with caution as trails can be challenging beside this fast moving water.