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Tom Thomson's Canoe

Tom Thomson's Canoe

Douglas Coupland
b.1961

Tom Thomson's Canoe
  • Steel and resin
  • 2008
  • 2.7 m x 0.5m
  • 95 Fort York Blvd, Toronto

About the artwork

Viewed by millions of motorists travelling the Gardiner Expressway and walking in and around Canoe Landing Park, Douglas Coupland’s startling red canoe serves as a symbolic entrance marker to the heart of downtown Toronto. Constructed as part of a comprehensive program of artwork for the park, this canoe is perched over the edge of a landscaped berm that was built using excavated materials from the construction of Concord CityPlace.

About the artist

Douglas Coupland grew up in Vancouver and attended the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Since graduating in the 1980s, Coupland has made a name for himself internationally as a writer, visual artist, and graphic designer, as well as being widely recognized as “one of the most original commentators on mass culture of the late 20th and the 21st century”. Coupland has written thirteen novels that have been published in many different languages worldwide. He has written and performed for England’s Royal Shakespeare Company and is a regular columnist for The Financial Times of London. He is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, e-flux, DIS and Vice. In 2000, Coupland amplified his visual art production and has recently had two separate museum retrospectives: Everything is Anything is Anywhere is Everywhere at the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and Bit Rot at Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and Munich’s Villa Stücke. His practice employs a variety of materials and explores the corrupting and seductive dimensions of pop culture. In 2015 and 2016, Coupland was named artist-in-residence at the Paris Google Cultural Institute. In May 2018, his exhibition on ecology, Vortex, opened at the Vancouver Aquarium. Coupland boasts an impressive list of honours and awards. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of British Columbia, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

Fun facts

  • In April 2020, Fort York's Canoe Landing Park received a graffiti makeover, which questions how to maintain and secure the artworks' integrity regarding its integration to the public realm.

Engagement questions

  • Does the elevation of this piece change how you perceive it?
  • Toronto’s identity is partly shaped by its public realm. Do you think Toronto would be less appreciable without this sculpture?