CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: The Relevance of Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, and the Group of Seven

History, Social Studies, Visual Arts
3 to 4 lessons
To explore genres and influence in the art world
Students will use a variety of web-based resources to assess the impact of Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, and the Group of Seven on Canada and the art world. Students will write and paint to share their findings.

Lesson Plan


The Group of Seven, mentor Tom Thomson, and artist Emily Carr painted Canada as they saw it. From 1920 to today, the Canadian wilderness has been seen through their eyes. Their vision shaped how Canadians saw their own country and left a legacy that continues to provoke debate and discussion. Viewing their paintings today, we can still imagine these artists sitting in the wilderness, sketchbooks in hand, creating powerful and lasting images of Canada.

The Task

As a class, review several paintings by Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, and the Group of Seven. Discuss and compare the paintings of these nine artists. Ask: What makes these paintings quintessentially Canadian? What effect do you think these paintings would have on young artists today?

Students will conduct research to answer the questions below (also available on the download sheet Artists' Relevance).

What impact did the Group of Seven and its associated artists have on Canada and Canada's self-perception?

What impact did the Group of Seven and its associated artists have on the international art world?

What impact did the environment have on the artists?

How and why are these painters still relevant today?

How did the style of these artists influence other artists?

What effect did the paintings of these artists have on how the world sees Canada?

Students will then create paintings in the style of any one of the painters, demonstrating their knowledge of the life, times, and influence of the artists. Students' art works should express their own ideas and use their research for influence and inspiration only.

The Process

Students can work in pairs or individually to conduct their research. They should begin their research on the topic Group of Seven: Painters in the Wilderness on the CBC Digital Archives website.  Students can then expand their research to include any websites, videos, or books they find relevant and which will help them complete the download sheet.

Students will prepare a two-page report responding to the questions on the download sheet. They can create their paintings individually when their research is complete.


Organize a showing of the students' work and invite the students' family and friends to take part. Students should be prepared to explain how the Group of Seven influenced their work.

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