Getting Personal with Tom Thomson: Group of Seven Forerunner
Doctor John McRuer
Without giving away too much of the extensive research for the as yet unpublished article “Tom Thomson’s Toronto”, there is a fascinating story about the way Tom Thomson’s and John McRuer’s lives overlap and end. As to the beginning of their connection, to which you allude in your query, they met in one of the many boarding houses that Tom frequented in his ‘lost decade’ in Toronto. John was a medical student when they first met.
I’ll go right to the end part of their lives which I didn’t put into the article because it takes place in 1917 and my focus was 1905-1912 in Toronto. John McRuer’s tuberculosis had driven he and his wife to a sanitorium in Colorado. Tom kept in touch with the McRuers because he’d been best man at their wedding.
In the summer of 1917 at Mowat Lodge when Tom found out that his friend had died, he became very withdrawn. John McRuer’s death affected him greatly. Within weeks, Tom himself had died tragically. (I don’t mean to suggest ANY connection.)
Just as Tom’s eldest brother, a lawyer, was charged with bringing home his body in a sealed metal casket, John McRuer’s older brother, a lawyer, travelled to Colorado to bring his brother’s remains home. Both George and James (later Chief Justice of Ontario) were travelling on the rails with metal caskets at about the same time to bring their brothers home. I find it a touching synchronicity.