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In this MysteryQuest, you will focus on one of the three main theories about his death - murder, suicide or accident. First, you will learn more about Thomson's life and his death to help you identify the one theory you wish to investigate further. Next, you will examine a list of facts to determine whether these facts support your chosen theory, challenge the theory or are simply not relevant. You will gather additional facts and judge whether or not they support your theory. Finally, you will rate the overall plausibility of all of the evidence you have collected to help you decide whether the evidence about your chosen theory justifies re-opening the case.
Unsolved mysteries are sometimes referred to as "cold cases." A cold case is one in which there are no active leads to follow. When the available evidence has been examined as much as possible, the case grows cold. An interesting cold case involves the death of Tom Thomson, a famous Canadian painter. Thomson was 39 years old when he died in 1917. He had completed over 200 artworks and was beginning to achieve wide recognition. Some say he was at the start of a brilliant career. Today Thomson's paintings sell for over a million dollars.
The facts show that Thomson set out alone on a fishing trip in northern Ontario. He had visited this area many times as a fire ranger, fishing guide and painter. Shortly after his departure, someone spotted his empty canoe floating not far from the dock from which he had left. A week later, his body surfaced in the lake. How did Thomson die? Over the years, three theories have emerged. At the time in 1917, Tom Thomson's death was ruled accidental. However questions remained about the cause and many people were not satisfied with the ruling. Some suggest that Thomson might have committed suicide. A third theory is that he was murdered. Supporters of each theory point to difference pieces of evidence. Some question the condition of the body and when it was found. Others mention rumours of conflict over debt, a love interest, or differences of opinion about the world war that was raging at the time.