• By: Dan Donovan

OAG’s Franklin Carmichael in Group of Seven stamp series

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first exhibition of the Group of Seven, Canada Post is issuing a new series of stamps featuring striking landscapes by original members of the Group. The set includes In the Nickel Belt (1928) by Franklin Carmichael, a work from the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, housed at the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG). Carmichael was known for his use of watercolours, but he also used oil paints, charcoal and other mediums to capture the Ontario landscapes of which he was fond. 

Alexandra Badzak, Chief Executive Officer of the OAG told Ottawa Life Magazine that the “OAG is pleased to participate, alongside other venerable galleries from across the country, in Canada Post’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Group of Seven. Our contribution of Franklin Carmichael’s work illustrates the artist’s and the group’s ability to transcend time and evoke a powerful connection to the beauty and contradictions of the Canadian landscape.”

In the Nickel Belt is one of Franklin Carmichael’s most important works. Among hills of rock, a billow of rising smoke majestically dominates the skyline, reflecting Carmichael’s reverence for the Northern Ontario landscape, alongside his critique of environmental destruction through industry. Although painted almost 100 years ago, in the face of climate change the significance of his work continues to be relevant for contemporary audiences. The piece will be travelling to Europe for a celebratory exhibition called Magnetic North: Canadian Modern Painting 1910-1940, co-organized by the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

It was one hundred years ago, on May 7, 1920, that Canadian artists Franklin Carmichael, Lawren S. Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Frank H. Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald and F.H. Varley the Group of Seven held their first art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario). Although they disbanded by the end of the decade, they have had a lasting impact on the development of Canadian art for a century and continue to attract collectors on an international scale.

Seven works are featured in the stamp issue, using works drawn from six major Canadian galleries:

  • In the Nickel Belt (1928), by Franklin Carmichael
  • Miners’ Houses, Glace Bay (circa 1925), by Lawren S. Harris
  • Labrador Coast (1930), by A.Y. Jackson
  • Fire-swept, Algoma (1920), by Frank H. Johnston
  • Quebec Village (1926), by Arthur Lismer
  • Church by the Sea (1924), by J.E.H. MacDonald
  • Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay (1921), by F.H. Varley

Stamps are available on Thursday, May 7, at canadapost.ca/shop

About the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG): OAG is Ottawa’s municipal art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.

The Firestone Collection of Canadian Art is a significant art collection that spans the modern period (1890–1985). Originally established by Ottawa-based collectors O.J. and Isobel Firestone in the early 1950s, the collection contains over 1,600 works by influential Canadian artists