James MacCallum

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James Metcalfe MacCallum (1860–1943) was a Canadian ophthalmologist and one of the most important patrons of the Group of Seven.

He was born in Richmond Hill, but spent part of his early life on the rural shores of Georgian Bay. He studied medicine at the University of Toronto. After further training in London and Berlin he became a professor of ophthalmology there in 1903.[1]

In 1911 he built a cottage on an island in Go Home Bay in Georgian Bay, naming it West Wind Island. That same year Lawren Harris was staying nearby with Dr. David Gibb Wishart, also a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. He would soon meet many of Harris' artist friends, purchasing works from them and inviting them to this cottage to paint. Several took him up on the offer and completed major work at Go Home Bay. This included Tom Thomson, J.E.H. Macdonald, Arthur Lismer, and A.Y. Jackson.[2]

When Jackson for want of funds spoke of leaving Canada for greater opportunity, MacCallum offered to pay his expenses for a year so he could stay in Canada and paint. Thomson, always short of money, was also funded for a year by MacCallum. He also used his funds to pay for a quarter of the construction costs of the Studio Building. A permanent workspace for artists in Toronto. When Tom Thomson died, it was MacCallum who paid for the memorial cairn in Algonquin Park.[2]

MacCallum became close friends with the Group of Seven artists. While not painting himself he was a frequent presence at the Studio Building and accompanied members on expeditions north, such as the important trips painting the Algoma region.[2]

MacCallum died in 1943 leaving his large art collection to the National Gallery of Canada and his cottage as a permanent setting for painters to stay.[3]


  1. ^ James Metcalfe MacCallum (1860-1943). Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences - University of Toronto.
  2. ^ a b c Ross King (25 September 2010). Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven. McMichael Canadian Art Collection. pp. 2–. ISBN 978-1-55365-807-8.
  3. ^ James Metcalfe MacCallum (1860-1943). Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences - University of Toronto.