Great Seven Outdoor Mural Gallery

Huntsville Travel Blog

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I have spent the past couple days in Huntsville, Ontario and one of the first details I noticed about the little town were several large ‘paintings’ hanging on the walls of several buildings through out the down town area. Many of them were hung in spots that were not immediately visible. You would have to walk into an alley to have a fuller view, or explore to the back of some businesses to see what was hanging back there.

I was immediately intrigued by these ‘paintings’ because a few days earlier I was in Toronto and had spent several hours viewing what seemed like hundreds of artworks by a group of Canadian artists known as the ‘Great Seven’ at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was my first exposure to this group of artists and their artwork, and I quickly recognized the style of the Huntsville murals as either being actual replicas of works by the ‘Great Seven’ or perhaps as original artwork by local artists influenced heavily by the ‘Great Seven’. 

It turned out that they were large replicas of artwork by the ‘Great Seven’ painted by current Canadian artists. There are about 40 pieces on display and have become a drawing point for tourism in the region. Tom Thompson and the rest of the ‘Great Seven’ were heavily influenced by Canadian culture and landscape, and were particularly interested in the Muskoka region and nearby Lake of Bays. When the weather up here is clear and sunny and you take a drive through the local countryside, you can see elements of the Great Seven artworks all around you. The artists did a phenomenal job at depicting Canada.  

What I thought was charming about the murals was not just the homage paid toward some innovative and talented Canadian artists, but the clearly thoughtful layout of the outdoor gallery to inspire visitors to explore the little town beyond the main street. I spent some time near the lake because I was searching for the murals and walked down several quaint side streets because of these murals.

My only bit of criticism is that I would love to have seen murals and other pieces of public artwork by contemporary Canadian artists who are also inspired by the regional landscape juxtaposed next to the replicas of the Great Seven.  It would demonstrate that the importance of nature is still as relevant with contemporary artists and Canadians now as it was a hundred years ago.  As much as I love art history and staring at beautiful works of art until I am about to pass out from exhaustion, I think it is equally important to support current artists and connect the past with the present. 

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photo by: debcon