A painstaking word-for-word comparison of the original historical records with what Judge William T. Little reproduced in his 1970 book, The Tom Thomson Mystery, may prove that he was not only a shameless self-aggrandizer but an outright fraud. If my previous efforts to discredit both his book and his personal character were unpersuasive, then what I will share in this essay ought to drive the final nails into his coffin. I was first drawn to the story of Tom Thomson’s tragic drowning in Algonquin Park’s Canoe Lake on July 8, 1917, by the glorious color and simple beauty of one of his paintings I saw on the cover of a book on a rack in a hallway near the men’s room of the Algonquin Outfitters Store in 1973. But it was Judge Little who introduced me to the two-fold mystery surrounding his death and place of final burial. I was excited and fascinated by Judge Little’s 239-page book which I thought not only told the full story with footnoted references to his source material but he reproduced others giving added authority to his account. As many people have done, I wrongly assumed from the biographical blurb on the back cover that Judge Little had been a practicing Canadian attorney before becoming provincial judge of the family division court of York County, Ontario. Actually, he had no formal legal education and was never admitted to the practice of law. Over the past 40 years, I have so frequently used and criticized his book that it has now completely fallen apart – both figuratively and literally. I cannot express how disappointed I am to conclude here that so thorough was his scrubbing of the actual facts of the Tom Thomson mystery that it is difficult to believe anything he wrote. That's hard for me to say because I had been originally inspired to continue his work on the Tom Thomson mystery by Little's writing about the many years of historical investigation he had undertaken: “The mystery of Tom Thomson’s death and the location of his final resting place resembled a great jig-saw puzzle. It had taken over twenty-five years to collect the pieces with the assistance of friends, co-workers and associates throughout the North, particularly those closely associated with Canoe Lake. Now the many pieces seems to fit into place and reveal a clearer picture of what had taken place during those final days after Tom disappeared on his ill-fated fishing expedition.” I truly admired his apparently faithful gathering of facts then carefully marshaled in writing his book to which he gave added weight and credibility by what turned out to be phony footnoted references and tinkered reproductions related to the case. I was wrong to admire him and its especially hard to be so disillusioned. Before demonstrating how Little knowingly used a corrupted version of Dr. Sharpe’s original report its readers were intended to believe was reproduced in full on pages 138- 142 of his book while leaving himself a plausible defense against its many deletions and additions, I should summarize my earlier discoveries of discrepancies and outright falsehoods I argued that he manufactured to boost his own credibility and sales. In chapter 17 of Algonquin Elegy: Tom Thomson’s Last Spring titled Notebook: Little Falsehood written over the summer of 2005, I described several crucial discrepancies in Little’s book regarding the two trips to Canoe Lake taken by George Thomson in 1917 to recover his brother’s body and Thomson's funeral in Owen Sound. I began by quoting a perceptive conclusion from a recent book by Dr. Sherrill Grace, Inventing Tom Thomson: From Biographical Fictions to Fictional Autobiographies and Reproductions, which recounted Judge Little’s book with palpable skepticism. Dr. Grace noted that he resorted to narrative maneuvers and rhetorical questions in pointing the finger of guilt at Martin Blecher, Jr., and arguing with the results of a forensic examination of skeletal remains dug up by Little at Canoe Lake in 1956 he claimed could only be those of Tom Thomson. “Try as he might to discredit, or at least render suspect, the forensic findings, Little appears not to have solved the mystery, but to have further complicated it,” she concluded. Dr. Grace was too kind but she did not fully realize the lengths to which Judge Little went in trying to undermine the forensic report. Dr. Grace was not engaged in investigating the mystery but rather she was writing about the body of Canadian literature growing out of his story. Since his drowning in 1917, Tom Thomson has been recreated by poets, playwrights, novelists, filmmakers, biographers, and other artists as a legendary figure representing Canada’s rugged northern identity. As a great artist killed in the prime of his life, his mysterious death in Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, and the controversy about his final resting-place fired the popular imagination had raised him to the status of a national hero. Following publication of Algonquin Elegy, I continued researching and writing essays on parts of the Thomson story that I had not included or discovered since, adding them to the book’s website. One of those essays called A Few More Little Falsehoods describes altered historical evidence and manufactured facts from Little I had found in Chapter 11 of his book, which describes the arrival of Tom Thomson’s casket in Owen Sound and its burial in the Leith cemetery on July 21, 1917. I showed how Little’s book included an entry he said was made in Knox Church records following Thomson’s Owen Sound funeral in 1917 that was an obvious fake intentionally reproduced in such a way as to lend authenticity to his book. “While other researchers may downplay what Little did here,” I said in writing A Few More Little Falsehoods that. “it is clear and convincing evidence of Little's cynical methods. Elsewhere in his book he committed the worst sin a biographer can make -- he fabricated evidence to suit his case.” The Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History website project provides engaging, high-quality materials to schools and universities for the teaching of historical methods and Canadian History. It is also used in a wide variety of other courses including law, language, literature, aboriginal issues and many others. The project, based at the University of Victoria, the Université de Sherbrooke and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, has created a series of instructional websites based on the premise that students can be drawn into Canadian history and archival research through the enticement of solving historical cold crimes. All the material is provided free as a public service. Several years ago, in a project led by Dr. Gregory Klages, PhD, materials regarding the Thomson mystery were added to the Canadian Mysteries website. I was one of four persons asked to provide interpretative essays for the Thomson mystery project, which are available by password for teachers only rather than student users. My subject was the errors and omissions I had trouble understanding from Judge Little’s book. What happened in 1956 causing a sensation across Canada was a remarkable discovery in the Mowat Cemetery on Canoe Lake by William T. Little, then a reform school superintendent in Brampton, Ontario. He and three friends dug-up the skeletal remains of a body in an unmarked grave that many believed should not have been there. Even greater astonishment resulted, however, from the official forensic conclusion that the skeletal remains found were not that those of Tom Thomson but instead possibly of a native Indian nobody knew had ever been buried there. It was not the discovery of the remains or their less than conclusive identification, however, that gave the discovery its great significance. To those interested in Tom Thomson’s death and final burial, the utterly remarkable fact was the condition of the skull. On the left temple was a dime-sized ragged hole, an injury matching-up with one of two old written reports of a four-inch bruise on the left or right temple of Thomson’s skull when his body was found in Canoe Lake in 1917. The Ontario government directed a forensic investigation. Assigned was Dr. Noble Sharpe, M.D. His conclusion that the remains found were probably those of a nearly full- breed Indian who was likely younger and certainly shorter than Thomson and whose skull possibly had been opened by a rare surgical operation called trephining caused a national sensation. Never mind differing details of the location and extent of the actual physical injury originally described in 1917 to Thomson’s temple, the coincidence of the hole's existence has ever since persuaded most writers and many readers that the body found in 1956 could only be that of Tom Thomson. Thomson mystery investigators have struggled in disbelief ever since against the only signed forensic report , a copy of which is available on the Canadian Mysteries website dated October 30, 1956. Dr. Sharpe addressed his report in the form of a memorandum to James Bartlett, assistant commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. In 1968, in response to a request from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation with which Little was working, the Ontario government's Centre of Forensic Sciences produced a drastically edited summary of the report much different from that reproduced on the Canadian Mysteries website. Dr. Sharpe participated in preparing the summary. At the same time, also prepared was a final report he backdated to December 12, 1956 then intended for confidential use by the Ontario Provincial Police and other law officers of the Crown. On p. 137 of The Tom Thomson Mystery, preceding his reproduction of this summary, however, Little claims to have "immediately contacted Dr. Sharpe and studied details of his report" following October 19, 1956, newspaper stories about Dr. Sharpe's surprising conclusions. If so, he could only be referring to the report dated October 30, 1956. It's apparent, however, that Little never actually got a copy of the October 30 report. Instead, years later, he saw and reproduced the summary that made substantive deletions, additions and changes in Dr. Sharpe's original report. For example, the summary completely omitted the following explanation made by Dr. Sharpe in his original report: “Corporal Rodger and I decided that, to protect ourselves from criticism re opening a grave, we would proceed as a routine case of reported findings of human bones to establish their identity with some missing person and the possibility of foul play, but that we were not concerned with local rumours of it being Mr. Thomson the artist, except as a possible identification. From subsequent events it would seem we have been criticized.” Little was sensitive to his personal role in desecrating an unmarked grave in the Mowat Cemetery from which his crew had stolen casket handles and memorial plates and, perhaps, the bones of a foot as more fully described in another essay here describing more fully what happened. The next critical deletion is particularly glaring for me today because both Little and Dr. Sharpe likely were aware of the fact that a good newspaper reporter working stories in northern Ontario on October 9, 1956, had spoken with Mrs. Jean Chittendon, a daughter of the Hayhurst family, who owned the cottage north of the Tom Thomson Memorial Cairn on Canoe Lake, about Judge Little's discovery of human remains in the Mowat Cemetery. Only two stone markers stood in the Mowat Cemetery in 1956. The first marks the grave of James Watson, a 21-year-old killed on in a Gilmour Lumber Company sawmill accident on May 25, 1897. The second grave held the remains of an eight- year-old child who died of diphtheria, Alexander Hayhurst. The Globe and Mail ran a long story by Don Delaplante the next day headlined Long a Mystery of Art World: Body May Answer Riddle of Tom Thomson's Death. The last paragraph of the news report said: “Some residents think the body may be that of an unidentified lumberjack who worked for the Gilmour firm many years ago. Mrs. Jean Chittendon said she had been told there are several unmarked graves adjacent to those of Hayhurst and Watson.” (Emphasis added.) Continuing, Dr. Sharpe described his conclusions regarding the body. In pertinent part, his original report said: “Had the body been embalmed and buried for 40 years, as in Thomson's case, I would expect some remnants of flesh. There were none.” This was completely deleted from Little's version. Thomson’s body had been double- embalmed, according to eyewitnesses and historical records, a fact readily available but, nonetheless, omitted from his book because Little wrongly believed that the human remains he found were those of Tom Thomson. In a later part of his original report, Dr. Sharpe wrote: “The records available show that Mr. Thomson was bruised on the right side of the face. This is in Dr. Howland’s description and one of the undertaker’s. Mr. Little (of the original group) is not sure he hasn’t read somewhere it was on the left side. Dr. Howland was an old teacher of mine and a Neurologist. He was such a good observer, he would not have missed a wound on the left temple and hole in the skull, if fresh, must have had a face wound, if old, a noticeable scar.” This was completely deleted from the summary. Little had another and bigger motive for accepting the deletion of these parts of Dr. Sharpe’s conclusions regarding records from 1917 of bruising on the right side of Thomson’s forehead because the skull he found inconveniently had a three-quarter inch hole on the left temple. Grace recognized the dramatic and persuasive power Judge Little succeeded in giving his book by illustrating it with a full-page photo of the hole on the left temple of the skull examined by Dr. Sharpe. “I have already noted that Little does not include any art reproductions in his book,” she wrote adding that this significant omission was underscored by what photographs he did include. "The most dramatic of these is the full-page photograph of the skull in left profile – ironically, the profile of Thomson we know best in art and photography -- and the same image that Dr. Sharpe used -- and with an assertive explanatory note: 'Another view of the skull found in Thomson’s Canoe Lake grave. Note the hole at the temple, coinciding with the injury sustained by the artist prior to his death, July 8, 1917'." I fully agree with Dr. Grace’s perceptive statement and want to further argue that the full- page photograph of the skull with its three-quarter inch almost round hole on the left temple is such powerful evidence that anyone with just a little knowledge of the story is thereby fully convinced to accept Little’s book. Dr. Sharpe's original report said: "He had been buried for 20 years at least, more likely 20 than older." In 1968, he added a note to his handwritten notes used in preparing the December 12 report.: It said: "From recent tests not then available, I place time of burial up to 20 years before 1956, not longer." (Emphasis added.) Whoever prepared the summary used by Little, however, failed to include Dr. Sharpe's note, a fact I am flabbergasted that nobody has earlier discovered and reported . Instead, the summary used by Little was as follows: "He had been buried for 20 years at least, more likely 30 to 40." Little then quotes from this on p. 144 of his book, saying, "Dr. Sharpe, interestingly enough, does, himself, estimate the length of time that elapsed since the burial in his own report. . . . This calculation would bring the burial time within the period of Tom Thomson's original burial 39 years before." The summary used by Little made even more significant changes. Dr. Sharpe’s original report said: “Professor Eric Linnel of the Department of Neuropathology, agrees this opening is in the classical position for the operation of trephining of the skull for haemorrhage following a head injury. Final e-rays, after removal of the skull cap prove to the radiologist and to me that it is a surgical trephine opening not due to bullet, or sharp instrument such as a pick or arrow.” The summary added a sentence to the middle of this paragraph: “The wound, however, though definitely not due to a bullet, could be caused by sharp instrument such as a pick, a narrow hammer head, or an arrow – not likely a peevee, though some might have that shape. It has been pointed out that if self-inflicted, it is likely a left-handed man.” (Emphasis added.) The detail is especially curious because nowhere else in his original report did Dr. Sharpe ever raise the possibility of suicide and Thomson was right-handed. Evidently, anticipating how the CBC would use his report, Dr. Sharpe wanted to emphasize this fact. Finally, only a very careful reader would have taken notice that Little was using a summary rather than the original report. Dr. Sharpe was 82 years old when the book was published in 1970 and he made no public fuss with Judge Little, who reproduced the doctored forensic report under an italicized caption: "The Reports" immediately followed by a brief partial sentence reading: "Summary of Dr. N.C. Sharpe's report:" Missing from Little's reproduction, however, was the letterhead of the Centre for Forensic Sciences, which he obviously should have known did not exist in 1956. I should hope that William T. Little is turning over and over in his grave.