Berm Lake and Johnston Creek
Two Tom Thomson Sketching Locations
Abstract: We suspect that several of Thomson's paintings are of Berm Lake and of the mouth of Johnson Creek on Grand Lake. However, these identifications are perhaps the most speculative of our determinations because modern vegetation has completely altered this landscape.
Berm Lake is located about 1 km east of the Out-Side-In. Contiguous with its south east corner is a marshy area that extends to within a few hundred meters of the Out-Side-In. On the far side of Berm Lake is a prominent hill. This is the location of the look-out on the modern Berm Lake Hiking Trail. We suspect, but cannot prove that Berm Lake and its associated marsh is Cranberry Marsh, depicted in at least two Thomson sketches. The difficulty is that in the last 100 years, the forest has grown up. In Thomson's day, this area had been extensively logged; the big trees were gone. The current forest growth makes identification of the sketching location difficult, because many of the sight lines are gone; the shapes of the hills are obscured; and the marsh shoreline is difficult to access. In addition, as we discuss elsewhere, the local beaver population may have been low in Thomson's day. The water level of Berm Lake is currently controlled by beavers.
Cranberry Marsh and Hill
The Marsh, Early Spring
Berm Lake drains into Grand Lake via Johnston Creek. We believe that Johnston Creek was another nearby sketching location. However, the ingrowth of vegetation also makes this identification speculative.
The Lake, Bright Day
The following sketches may also have been painted in the vicinity of the mouth of Johnston Creek on Grand Lake — they have the appropriate feel. However, the vegetation has grown in and changed to the extent that even if this is the correct location they can no longer be matched photographically. They are reproduced in the appendix for completeness.
The back of the sketch Cranberry Marsh has an inscription stating
1916 Cranberry Marsh & Hillside on Ragged Lake going over into Crown Lake / Callighen says Island lake. See the Tom Thomson Catalogue Raisonné entry for Cranberry Marsh.