This post is dedicated to my friend Keith C. Heidorn, The Weather Doctor. He first included this information on his site and was an great support of both the arts and the sciences.
First, let’s start with what we know about this work. The title gives the first important piece of information, it is dawn. We can deduce from the painting’s yellow tamaracks that it also the fall of the year – actually November because the deer rut and hunting season was on. We also happen to know it was 1915. Tom was on a hunting trip and this was one of four paintings completed that day. Tom gave this painting as a gift to his friend Dr Robert McComb who had accompanied him to Round (Kawawaymog) Lake. The painting stayed in the family for 94 years and then was sold at auction in Calgary to Albertan Tom Budd for $350,000 on April 19, 2009. The painting was expected to fetch $600K but only Tom Budd raised his hand. Mr Budd expects to donate the painting someday.
Since Thomson shows no sun glint on the water, the sun was at his back. As a plein air painter, Tom would normally paint with the sun to his back anyway. Painting while staring into the sun is difficult at best and at worst, dangerous for your eyes. This typical situation is confirmed by the bright fall colours of the subject matter. The shadowed side of a backlit subject could not be so colourful. So we know through indirect logic that Tom was facing westward.