The “West Wind” is a major character in The Song of Hiawatha. It is Mudjekeewis, Hiawatha’s father, presuming he has a father.
In April 2012, I published a post featuring Tom Thomson‘s “West Wind” (1917). The “West Wind” is also a major character in the art of Tom Thomson (5 August 1877 – 8 July 1977). I sense similarities.
Thomson died before the Group of Seven was formed. However, given the subject matter of his paintings, his style as an artist, not to mention his lifestyle, that of a woodsman, he is considered as a precursor to members of the Group of Seven, arguably Canada’s most renowned group of artists. However, his lifestyle and the very title of the painting featured above also suggest cultural kinship with the Amerindians of the Central Woodland, thus identified by Stith Thompson.
Tom Thomson settled in Algonquin Park in 1914, where he worked as a firefighter and guide, but lived in a cabin, devoting most of his time to his art. Thomson died during a canoeing trip. He was only 39. His premature death has served to transform him into a legend. The legend, however, is his art.
Testimonials to a virgin past about to be destroyed for profit are numerous. Climate protected the Central Woodland. It was cold and therefore uninviting to loggers. But ‘improved’ harvesting technologies won the day. The Arctic is melting down.
There’s land left, but too much was harvested in a way that could not allow regrowth. It was harvested in the name of profit, and the prospect of profit numbs reason.
Humans kill. They kill in the name of profit. They also kill in the name of God. They kill.
Manabozho created land and whatever land had been lost to a flood, he created again. Such was his godliness.
- Tom Thomson’s “The West Wind” (14 April 2012)
 Stith Thompson, The Folktale (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1977 ), pp. 306-307.
Glenn Gould plays Beethoven‘s Piano concerto No. 1, Op. 15, Largo
© Micheline Walker
3 September 2015