If you saw the 1996 movie Twister then you have an idea of what waterspouts are. One theory states they are responsible for an artist's death at Canoe Lake in Canada. As much as it is plausible, experts say the conditions just weren't right on that day in 1917. So, how did Tom Thomson die? Clues to how he lived may have the answer.
Tom Thomson was born near Claremont, Ontario in 1877. He was one of ten children. After an unsuccessful attempt to fight in the Second Boer War, he went to business college in Chatham and later in Seattle, Washington. In 1907, he joined a design firm in Toronto where many future members of the Group of Seven also worked. He was given opportunities to travel throughout Canada, but the wilderness in Ontario provided much inspiration for him. He made several trips to Algonquin Park where he acted as a fire ranger and guide. Solo canoeing trips on Canoe Lake weren't unfamiliar to him. He set out on many. Unfortunately, the one on July 8th, 1917 would be his last.
For days, no one knew what had become of Tom Thomson. A man of whom he just happened to have had an argument with the night before discovered his overturned canoe. On July 16th, Thomson's body rose to the surface and was recovered from the lake. The coroner's official verdict was "death by accidental drowning", but many had their suspicions.
First, he was found with metal line wrapped around an ankle which some believe was tied to a weight in order to keep his body from rising to the surface of the lake. He also had a gash on the side of his head either from a smack against the canoe's gunnel while tumbling into the lake or a knock on the head from an unknown assailant. Another interesting fact is that his body was embalmed and buried before the coroner arrived for the inquest. This hurried up fashion was uncommon for the wilderness. It is believed they were trying to get rid of the body quickly and hope the coroner wouldn't insist on a re-examination. If that was the case, they got their wishes.
It wasn't until two days later when Thomson's brother George ordered the body to be exhumed and shipped to Owen Sound to be buried in the family plot at Leith. Even that became apart of the mystery. Judge William T. Little, in his 1970s book, "The Tom Thomson Mystery,” concluded that Thomson's body never left the Canoe Lake plot. A different body was shipped in its place. Little and three companions did dig up a body in which they believed was Tom Thomson's grave site, but it was later determined to be a native Indian.
So, what did happen to Tom Thomson on Canoe Lake? With so many inconsistencies surrounding his death, the truth may never be revealed. For now, he is believed to haunt the lake. Perhaps waiting for the mystery to be solved.
Sources: Way Back Times and Wikipedia