Monday, 11 June 2012


Many, many, years ago I went for a drive ending up in Algonquin Provincial Park. Now, this was sometime before I decided to pursue a career as an artist. I was interested in art of course, but back in those days my interest was confined to viewing art produced by others, as I had no serious thoughts about changing careers. The trip to Algonquin was simply a weekend get-away. However, the trip through the park rekindled something that I had long since forgotten, my interest in nature, and this trip was to be the start of many trips to Algonquin that would culminate in my producing hundreds of sketches, drawings, and paintings, and the writing and illustrating of a book entitled, "Where Raven Plays: An Artist's guide to Algonquin Provincial Park".
Now, for those of you not familiar with Canada, Algonquin Provincial Park is located approximately 250 kilometers north from Toronto, in the province of Ontario. It is the province’s largest and oldest park. Algonquin was founded in 1893. It consists of approximately 7,700 square kilometers of semi-wilderness consisting of mixed forests containing hundreds of lakes and rivers. It is a paradise for all outdoor enthusiasts.
As well, Algonquin has a rich artistic heritage and was the painting grounds for Canada’s Group of Seven painters and the legendary Tom Thomson. Although the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson have passed into history their paintings and sketches continue to inspire and to lure present day artists to paint and sketch in the park.
As for me, despite my having sketched in the park for many years and having made hundreds of sketches, I continue to return to the park  to enjoy the solitude that is Algonquin, and to make further sketches.

Barron River Canyon  Watercolour Sketch

Algonquin Provincial Park is huge. It would take years to explore it properly. In putting together the book, WHERE RAVEN PLAYS my wife Sandra and I spent the better part of a year visiting various areas exploring only a tiny bit of the park and very little of its interior. The Barron River Canyon is located at the north-east section of the park and is of geological significance. It's quite amazing to park the car and walk to the precipice. Quite the sight.

Opeongo Lake Access   Watercolour Sketch

Opeongo Lake is located a few miles off of what is called the Corridor, Highway 60, and is the largest lake in Algonquin. It's a difficult lake to paddle recommended for only experienced canoeists.

Cache Lake  Watercolour PaintingCache Lake in a different era was a tourist destination with a hotel accessed by a railroad that ran through the park. All of that is gone now with the exception of a few private cottages. In time, when the owners pass, these cottages will be torn down and the land returned to the park.

Whitefish Lake  Watercolour Painting

I don't know how many times I've sketched this scene, or versions of it. The view of the lake and the island below is from the Centennial Ridges hiking trail. The look out is about 45 minutes from the end of the trail and is a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the park's solitude before making that last push home.

Tree Stumps   Watercolour Painting
We're talking no where in particular in this painting. While hiking we came upon a wet area and these stumps caught my interest. Capturing the detail of the decay became the challenge.

Beaver Lake   Watercolour Painting

As you drive through the park you occasionally catch glimpses of small lakes at the side of the highway. I caught sight of this lake through some conifers and stopped to take a closer look. Beavers had dammed up a small creek and over a period of years quite a large lake had formed. 

Canisbay Lake    Watercolour Painting 

Canisbay Lake was for years a favourite place to do a day trip. We'd throw the canoe on top of the van and head up to Algonquin very early in the morning arriving at around 9:00 am. We'd paddle a bit. I'd sketch. We'd have a picnic lunch, then head back home. Great way to spend a day. Now, years later, I marvel at our stamina, our ability to travel hours for a few hours enjoyment. As the saying goes, "What I wouldn't give to be young again".

**Copies of WHERE RAVEN PLAYS: An Artist's Guide to Algonquin Provincial Park are freely available as a PDF download by request at

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