History Mysteries: Franklin Carmichael's Orillia Part One

 
Although Group of Seven artist Franklin Carmichael was born and buried in Orillia, very little is known about the time he spent here. That’s why OMAH is producing this three-part series of posts on his life in our city titled History Mystery: Franklin Carmichael. This exploration runs in tandem with The Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition: Tradition Transformed, which is now on display at OMAH and is celebrating its 18th year.  
 
In 1888, David Graham Carmichael, a native of Stayner, arrived in Orillia and established a 500-square-foot blacksmith shop on Mississaga and Front streets where the Viet & Thai Restaurant is today. The following year, he married Susannah Eleanor Smith of Meaford. 
 
On May 4, 1890, Franklin Carmichael was born in the family home at 55 Scott Street, a short walk from David’s shop. Around 1900, the family moved to 1 Front Street across the road from David’s Orillia Wagon and Sleigh Works. By this time, Carmichael was probably working as an apprentice in the shop when he was not in school. By 1906, the factory had 15,000 square feet of space on two floors and employed 12 people. Carmichael took over the painting department and did the feathered striping on the finer carriages that were shipped to Toronto. The carriage striping helped him develop his painting talents and he also learned carpentry skills he would later use to design and build fine wood furniture.
 
Franklin’s mother was aware of his artistic talents when he was young and found a local teacher to help him develop his painting. He would later choose painting as his career and go on to join the Group of Seven. Who was Carmichael’s first landscape painting teacher? Stay tuned for our next History Mystery to learn more.