Tom Cummings was born on the prairies of Manitoba in 1904; returning with his family to eastern Ontario in 1907, he spent his early years on a farm in Pittsburgh Township. After earning qualifications at North Bay Normal School and Queens University, T.C. commenced his teaching career in Eau Claire in Northern Ontario before establishing himself in what was to become his home, North Bay.
There, he further developed his role as an educator, established his artistic insight of the North, embarked on decades of world-wide travel in his summer vacations, and rendered in art and poetry his ethnographic reactions to his travel experiences. The Second World War had a major influence on T.C. Not only did it introduce him to the new worlds of the North Atlantic, Newfoundland, and Labrador, but also to the verities of political violence, human suffering, and trauma. Returning to North Bay after the war, to his profession as an educator and to his passion as an adventurer, Cummings explored new stirrings of allegorical critiques that stemmed from stresses of war, crime, and social disruption. While still an artist and a poet, in his latter years T.C. mined this rich life-path in several literary ventures. Although his first fictive reflection on his rural past was Gopher Hills, Fire on the Sea is the most dramatic of his exercises in creative faction.
Fire on the Sea: S.S. Patches, Down North to Labrador (Author)