Lawren Harris

Sand Lake, Algoma, c. 1921

oil on panel
10.75x14 in.

Algoma Sketch CXXXIII
signed and titled Algoma Sketch CXXXIII on artist’s label to verso
inscribed with Doris Mills Inventory #2/133, the artist’s symbol and ST#G320, c. 1921

The Art Emporium, Vancouver, 1984;
Private collection, Vancouver;
Sale of Heffel Fine Art, Fine Canadian Art, November 23, 2016, lot. 135;
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary;
Private collection, Ontario

Doris Mills, L.S. Harris Inventory, 1926, Algoma Sketches, Group 2, listed, cataloge #2/133,
location noted as Studio Building;
Paul Duval, Lawren Harris: Where the Universe Sings, 2011, pgs. 159 and 159

In the spring of 1918, Lawren Harris visited Algoma as part of his recuperative process after a breakdown and discharge from the army during WWI. A sensitive individual, Harris could not
reconcile what he had experienced overseas while in Toronto: nature was the only answer. His friend Dr. James MacCallum took him north of Sault Ste. Marie, and into some of the most picturesque country in eastern Canada. Wild and inaccessible, Algoma’s rivers, lakes, canyons, and waterfalls were exactly what Harris needed. He embraced the scenery, letting the atmosphere of the forest wash over him. The experience re-engaged him with his art, and allowed him to conquer his demons.

Back in Toronto, he boasted of the area’s endless subject matter to his fellow artists, and J.E.H. MacDonald, A.Y. Jackson, and Frank Johnston. Johnston and MacDonald joined Harris and MacCallum when they returned again that fall. While the spring scenery was impressive, the colours of autumn were double inspiring. An ever changing tapestry of colour, bursts of brilliant gold, dashes
of bright red, accents of orange and yellow, all set against rich and varied greens. This work comes from a few years later in 1921, when Jackson was also on the trip, and is one of several studies that
Harris executed at this small lake. It relates directly to the major canvas Reflections, Sand Lake, in the Sobey Art Foundation collection. These trips were the beginning of a long association with Algoma and the famous boxcar trips using the Algoma Central Railway car, outfitted with bunk beds and a stove, and moved from siding to siding, serving as home base for daily painting excursions and evening critiques. It was thus that Algoma gave rise to some of Canada’s finest art.


Lawren Harris met the other artists who were to form the Group of Seven through the Arts and Letters Club. He had been a founding member of the Club and had a background very different to the other members of the Group. Harris was born in Brantford, Ontario and was an…