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 part one, we discussed Carmichael’s childhood home, located at 55 Scott Street in Orillia, and his time working at his father’s carriage factory. The carriage factory was one of the places that Carmichael was able to practice his artistic abilities that were prevalent when he was young. 
When Franklin was 12 years old, his mother sent him for painting lessons in the rectory of St. James’ Church with the Rev. Richard Greene. Richard had studied landscape painting at the Ontario College of Art while he was a curate at St. James’ Cathedral in Toronto.  He had made a number of sketching trips with other artists while living in Toronto and was acquainted with others at the college. Rev. Greene moved to Orillia in 1888, the same year as the Carmichaels.
In 1907, Rev. Greene formed the Orillia Sketch Club and encouraged local artists, like Carmichael, to join him on bicycle sketching trips into the countryside. In 1908, the club had one of its first exhibits at the Orillia Fall Fair. Rev. Greene enticed Toronto artists to travel to the town to judge these exhibits and because of this, Carmichael was able to meet professional painters who may have encouraged him to study art in Toronto. Franklin won prizes for his pen and ink sketches and his sepia drawings that year, the painting prize went to Norah Mulcahy.
In 1911, David Carmichael sold the carriage works. Franklin Carmichael found work as a designer in Toronto and left Orillia with $35.00 in his pocket.  This was not the last that Orillia would see of Franklin Carmichael, as his childhood sweetheart still lived in the town.
Who was she? Stay tuned for part three of “History Mysteries: Franklin Carmichael” to learn more!
Franklin Carmichael 1909
Reverend Richard Greene, 1894