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Tom Thomson Art Gallery Launches Living Histories Self-Guided Walking Tour

The Tom Thomson Art Gallery is pleased to launch the Living Histories self-guided historic walking tour developed by local historian and writer Richard J. Thomas. This tour was created in connection with the Living Histories: J. James exhibition currently on view at the Art Gallery until March 16.  

Explore the lively history of Owen Sound through this engaging walking tour that connects 22 historical highlights of Owen Sound as captured by renowned local photographer J. James. Walk at your own pace and experience the past through stories of the downtown businesses, shops, and cultural landmarks that define the city.  

“We develop a stronger connection and a deeper understanding of a place when we walk through it, hear stories about its past, and see photographs of how it once looked,” says Heather McLeese, Curator of Public Projects & Education at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery. “This tour is the perfect combination of art and history; a true celebration of Owen Sound’s past through the local lens of notable photographer J. James. A must-do and see experience for residents and visitors alike.” 

To take the self-guided tour, you can visit the website in the link here: Living Histories Self-Guided Walking Tour | Owen Sound. 

Click the map button and select any of the 22 mustard-coloured pins containing details about each featured site. All locations showcase a historic photograph by J. James along with detailed descriptions outlining the history of the site. Select locations contain audio recordings from Thomas illuminating the history of the city - simply click the link to listen. If you see a numbered circle, click it to reveal nearby sites and enjoy exploring! If you see signage around town, scan the QR code with any smartphone device to access the self-guided tour. 

If you have any questions about the Living Histories Self-Guided Walking Tour, please contact Heather McLeese, Curator of Public Projects & Education at the TOM by phone 519-376-1932 ext. 5006 or email


“Owen Sound has a compelling history, and this walking tour provides locals and visitors with the chance to step back in time and learn about some of the key places that helped define our City’s past. Thank you to the staff of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery for bringing such thought-provoking and educational programming to Owen Sound.” 

-Mayor Ian Boddy 

“The title of the exhibition, Living Histories, alludes to fact that the past is something that always exists with us in the present. This walking tour offers people the opportunity to experience, imagine, and appreciate Owen Sound with fresh perspective. It’s a rare glimpse into the culture and character of the times that shaped the city.” 

-Aidan Ware, Director & Chief Curator, Tom Thomson Art Gallery 

Quick Facts: 

  • This Living Histories self-guided tour can be accessed HERE 
  • The tour takes roughly an hour to walk; people of all ages and mobility levels can utilize the map to explore the sites 
  • The Living Histories exhibition is on view until March 16 at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery. 
  • Admission is by donation or free with the OPEN Card. 
  • The Guest Curator Talk with Richard J. Thomas will take place on Friday March 15 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. This is a free event, accompanied by a cash bar and whiskey tasting. 
  • The Art Gallery is open to the public Tuesday – Friday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and by appointment in the mornings for tours and events.  


Contact Us

808 2nd Avenue East,
Owen Sound, ON
N4K 2H4
Phone: 519-376-1440
Email us

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