CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Tom Thomson's Mysterious Death

History, English Language Arts, Social Studies
2 lessons
To defend a position in writing
Students will research Tom Thomson’s death and defend a position on whether he was murdered or died of natural causes.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Review or teach how to write a position statement. Model how to take a position on an issue, and then, as a class, develop a framework for writing a one-page, point-form position statement, including a title, the position taken, support for the position, and a concluding statement. Leave the notes on the board or chart paper for the class to use as reference.


Outline the Opportunity


Introduce Tom Thomson, the man who was never an official member of the Group of Seven, to the class. Have students review the entire topic The Group of Seven: Painters in the Wilderness on the CBC Digital Archives website before they focus on the clip "The mysterious death of Tom Thomson".  Students should be sure to review all the Did You Know? sections.

Explain to students that they will be writing a one-page position statement on whether they believe that Tom Thomson was murdered or died of natural causes. Before they write, students may wish to research online for additional information on Tom Thomson's death. They should note all the information they find in relation to the 1917 event.

Revisit and Reflect

Divide the class into two groups: those who believe Thomson was murdered and those who believe he died of natural causes. The groups will discuss the key points of their personal position statements and create a list of the five most convincing arguments defending their position. Each group will list its arguments on the board. Lead a class discussion on the two positions.



Students can visit the the website The Tom Thomson Art Gallery (tomthomson.org) to review Thomson's art works. Students can select their favourite painting and write to explain their choice.

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