Work & Bio

J.E.H. MacDonald

Born in 1873
 / Died in 1932

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Biography

J.E.H. MacDonald

BORN:
Durham England, 1873
Moved to Canada & settled in Hamilton, 1887 at the age of 14
Lived in London, England, 1903-1907

DIED:
November 26, 1932 Toronto

“It is the work of the Canadian artist to paint or play or write in such a way that life will be enlarged for himself and his fellow man. The painter will look around him . . . and finding everything good, will strive to communicate that feeling through a portrayal of the essentials of sunlight, or snow, or tree or tragic cloud, or human face, according to his power and individuality.”
(J.E.H. MacDonald, 1917)

The painter J.E.H. (James Edward Hervey) MacDonald, a founding member of the Group of Seven, responded to the Canadian landscape with a sensitivity honed by his interest in the American writers Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. One of Canada’s leading graphic designers and a popular art teacher, MacDonald was also a poet and calligrapher. His design work was strongly influenced by Arts and Crafts designers in England and Canada, especially William Morris.

The son of a cabinetmaker, MacDonald immigrated with his family to Hamilton, Ontario, in 1887. After apprenticing with a Toronto lithography company at the age of sixteen, he worked in commercial design for Grip Printing and Publishing Co. from around 1895 to 1903, at Carlton Studio in London from 1903 to 1907, and again at Grip Ltd. from 1907. MacDonald resigned in 1912 to paint full-time, but worked as a freelance designer until 1921. While an apprentice, MacDonald studied art under John Ireland and Arthur Heming at the Hamilton School of Art, and with G.A. Reid and William Cruikshank at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design (now the Ontario College of Art and Design). He was active in the Arts and Letters Club, Toronto, and was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

MacDonald painted decorations for Dr. James MacCallum’s cottage in Georgian Bay (1915) and St. Anne’s Church, Toronto (1923). He worked up his paintings from sketches made on trips to Georgian Bay, northern Ontario, Algoma (1919 to 1922), and in the Rockies (1924 to 1930). From 1921 he taught at the Ontario College of Art, becoming Principal in 1929. MacDonald visited Barbados with his wife early in 1932 to recover from a stroke he had suffered the previous November.

Courtesy the National Gallery of Canada

MACDONALD, James Edward Hervey

1873-1932

Born in Durham, England, the son of William Henry MacDonald, native of St. Johns, Quebec. His grandfather was a British officer serving in Canada at Halifax; Old Fort Toronto; and Fort Garry, Winnipeg. His father had gone back to England as a boy with his parents but had returned to Canada as a young man with his own family. When they arrived J.E.H. MacDonald was fourteen years old (1887). They settled in Hamilton, Ontario, where he attended night school at the Hamilton Art School under John Ireland and Arthur Heming. After about three years the MacDonalds moved to Toronto where James became an apprentice at the Toronto Lithography Company. In 1893 while still working as an apprentice he began studies, evenings and Saturdays, at the Central Ontario School of Art and Designs. There he took guidance from William Cruickshank and G.A. Reid although his instruction under Reid was only occasional. It was probably during this period that his pen and ink work developed considerably. In 1895 he joined the staff of Grip Limited and worked in the design department. Around 1902 MacDonald became associated with members of the Toronto Art Students’ League and finally became a member. In their ranks were F.H. Brigden, F.S. Challener, Robert Holmes, A.H. Howard, C.W. Jefferys, Fergus Kyle, C.M. Manley and David F. Thomson. Their brilliant work was revealed to the public through The Toronto Art League Calendar issued first in 1893 and annually thereafter until 1904. In the calendar there were twelve pages of illustrations of the Canadian seasons usually in the form of genre scenes. MacDonald by this time had begun his travels in Canada during his holidays in Nova Scotia, and Ontario. His pen and ink sketches done during these trips appeared in the Art League Calendars. He married Harriet Joan Lavis in 1899 and in 1901 their son Thoreau was born. They named him after Henry David Thoreau, American poet, prose-writer, and naturalist. In 1903 MacDonald sailed for England where he joined the Carlton Studios in London. Four other Canadians who had belonged to the Toronto Art Students’ League had arrived before him (they were T.G. Greene, A.A. Martin, William Wallace and Norman Price). After a year in London he returned to Canada briefly to take his wife and son back with him. For the next three years he worked for the Carlton Studios principally designing book covers. In 1907 he returned with his family to Toronto and rejoined Grip. They settled on Quebec Avenue near High Park and the Humber Valley where they had lived before. It was in this district that MacDonald did much of his early painting in water colours and oils. Pine, oak and birch trees still grew in abundance interrupted only by the occasional dwelling. Although MacDonald’s sketches were very small they were well designed, some of which are still in the possession of his son Thoreau MacDonald, while others are in the McMichael collection at Kleinburg. From 1908 he exhibited his paintings at the Ontario Society of Artists and the Canadian National Exhibition. It was around this time that Tom Thomson joined Grip and was personally encouraged by MacDonald, then a senior man in the design department. The two men had much in common and were similar in nature. The next key man to arrive at Grip was F.H. Johnston, in 1909. Sketching trips were taken by the employees about this time. MacDonald in 1909 spent some of his holidays at Magnetawan River near Burks Falls; Algonquin Park, and at Georgian Bay. Also that year he was elected member of the Ontario Society of Artists. The Arts and Letters Club had just come into being and MacDonald frequented its premises as a guest. There he met Lawren Harris and Dr. James MacCallum. In 1910 MacDonald and his family spent the summer at Dr. MacCallum’s island in Georgian Bay and later that year he exhibited his work at the Royal Canadian Academy for the first time. In February of 1911 he became a member of the Arts and Letters Club. In the winter of that year an exhibition of his sketches was hung on the walls of the Club. His work received warm praise in the Club’s magazine The Lamps by C.W. Jefferys. Many of his sketches were done in the general area of Toronto but they excited viewers like Dr. MacCallum and Lawren Harris who persuaded him to devote all his time to painting. After careful consideration of the matter MacDonald resigned from Grip that same month. By then, Grip had hired Arthur Lismer and Frank Carmichael. These men often had their lunch at the Arts and Letters Club and sat around what came to be known as “the artists’ table.” At times the table included Jackson, Harris, Johnston, Lismer, Carmichael, Varley, and MacDonald. Sometimes they were joined by Dr. Barker Fairley of the University of Toronto who also went camping with them. Varley had joined Grip in 1912 and now all the key members of the Group of Seven had met one another. In the spring of that year MacDonald exhibited his “Tracks and Traffic” at the Ontario Society of Artists’ annual exhibition. He had done several sketches near Old Fort York at the intersection of Bathurst and Front Streets, Toronto, using the background of gas storage tanks. The sketch he decided to make into a canvas had fewer freight cars and more snow in the foreground also a couple of pedestrians. Harris also sketched on the same spot and probably the artists had gone there together. Both men shared similar interests. By then MacDonald had his own studio on Adelaide Street East where he remained until he moved to his Thornhill farm. “Tracks and Traffic” is believed the only painting he did with an industrial theme, and was his first important work in which he coped with many of the problems of composition and colour which were to crop up in future canvases. The elements of this painting are skilfully and poetically blended together in semi impressionistic fashion. In the summer of 1912 MacDonald again visited MacCallum’s cottage at Georgian Bay then he went with Harris to Burks Falls (Highway 11) and Magnetawan (Highway 520). A sketch from this trip “Thomson’s Rapids Magnetawan River” is in the McMichael Conservation Collection at Kleinburg. In January of 1913 MacDonald and Harris took a trip to Buffalo to see an exhibition of Scandinavian painting at the Albright Art Gallery. Of particular interest to MacDonald was a painting by Swedish artist, Gustav Fjaestad, entitled “Ripples.” That spring Harris and MacDonald made a trip to Mattawa then in the summer he moved with his family to the farm he bought at Thornhill. In the autumn of 1914 Harris and MacDonald went to the Laurentians. From this trip MacDonald painted the magnificent canvas “Laurentian Hillside, October” (30″ x 40″) now in the collection of Mr. W. Howard Wert, Montreal. In this remarkable canvas MacDonald managed to include all the basic elements of the Gatineau countryside: in the foreground a ridge of rocky hill with a clump of birch and maple trees, in the middle distance a farm in an expansive level area accented by a distant team of horses pulling a plow, bordered with crimson and yellow trees behind which a bar of blue water (the Gatineau River) heightens the effect of all the colours in the painting. On the far bank of the river an enormous expanse of mountain covers half of the canvas with its rust and green, highlighted by islands of light purple rock. At the top of the painting a misty cloud clings to the crest of the mountain giving a feeling of stillness. A good reproduction of this painting appears in Mellen’s The Group of Seven and a smaller black and white version in Nancy E. Robertson’s catalogue J.E.H. MacDonald, R.C.A., 1873-193221 and Dennis Reid’s Group of Seven. In 1914 the Studio Building which Lawren Harris and Dr. James MacCallum financed, was completed. Here a handful of promising artists who otherwise would not have had the environment and facilities to finance their creative painting, were to begin work on their exciting canvases. After almost three years of free lance work MacDonald was probably glad to move into The Studio in the company of sympathetic artists and ideal studio conditions. The building had been completed at a total cost of $21,000. It consisted of six enormous studios, two to a floor. MacDonald occupied Studio Six; Curtis Williamson, Studio Five; J.W. Beatty, Studio Four; Arthur Heming, Studio Three; Lawren Harris, Studio Two; Tom Thomson and A.Y. Jackson, Studio One. A friendship between MacDonald and J.W. Beatty probably from their attendance at activities of the Mahlstick Club, was fostered by the fact that their studios were now under the same roof. They were opposites in nature, Beatty was fiery, MacDonald, gentle and quiet but despite their personality differences, they went to Algonquin Park in March of 1914. There with the temperature at twenty below zero, they joined A.Y. Jackson who was scouting the area on snowshoes. Jackson himself had been inspired to visit the Park by the stories of Tom Thomson. The beauty of the Gatineau however took MacDonald and Harris back there, this time at Cascades, Quebec, then they returned to the Studio Building to paint larger canvases. In 1915 Jackson went back to Montreal where he joined the army. Carmichael took his place and moved into Studio One to share the overhead with Thomson. MacDonald continued to work at his paintings and finished “Logs On The Gatineau” and “Snowbound” (exhibited at the O.S.A.). In “Snowbound” MacDonald had chosen a view through a window of his Thornhill home of the lower limbs of a spruce tree heavily laden with snow with a small patch of sun filtering through the tree’s limbs to the snow covered ground. This canvas was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada the same year and is reproduced in the Gallery’s catalogue and other books. In 1916 MacDonald was busy on war posters and a series of sketches of his garden at Thornhill entitled “Tangled Garden” on 8″ x 10″ panels. One of these sketches became his choice for the painting “The Tangled Garden” (48″ x 60″) in which he strengthened all the elements of the composition – the apples on the trees, barn boards, windows, doors, in the background. In the middle distance the flowers were painted in a burst of colour – crimson, yellow, gold, green, rust, orange which must have seemed a deliberate taunt for the critics viewing it for the first time at the annual O.S.A. show. A second and third shock for them in the same show was MacDonald’s “The Elements” (28″ x 36-1/8″) and “Rock and Maple” (21″ x 26″). All three were vehemently criticized by critics including Hector Charlesworth, associate editor for Saturday Night. But MacDonald replied to his critics in the Toronto Globe and in so doing became a natural choice of spokesman for the “Algonquin Group” (as they were known then). Lismer moved to Thornhill as well around 1915, next door to MacDonald, but in August of 1916 left for Halifax with his family to become principal of the Victoria School of Art and Design. Before he left he helped complete a commission with MacDonald and Thomson, to paint decorative wall panels for the living room of the MacCallum’s cottage as a surprise for Mrs. MacCallum. MacDonald’s part included several panels, two for either side of the fire place “Inhabitants of Go-Home Bay, Times Past” (early ‘natives’ of Go-Home Bay – A Huron Indian with his child being baptized by a Jesuit priest in the presence of a French official) and “Inhabitants of Go-Home Bay, The Present” (three natives of the region in 1916 – trapper, Indian, and local fisherman). Another large painting (47-7/8″ x 93-3/4″) entitled “The Supply Boat” shows the local cottagers meeting the supply boat which shipped out of Penetang or Midland to the various points along the lake shore. MacDonald did several other paintings. On July 8, 1917, Tom Thomson was seen for the last time on Canoe Lake. Eight days later his body was discovered. The shock of Thomson’s death fell hard on all the “Algonquin Group.” MacDonald by then had moved to York Mills; Jackson was in England recovering from wounds; Lismer was still in Halifax; Harris was also in the army instructing musketry at Camp Borden, Ont.; Carmichael was still in Toronto; Varley was probably in Toronto. MacDonald and Beatty joined Dr. MacCallum in stamping identification marks on Thomson’s sketches with a newly-designed studio stamp. MacDonald had designed a brass inscription plate as follows, “To The Memory Of Tom Thomson, artist-woodsman and guide who was drowned on Canoe Lake, July 8th, 1917; he lived humbly and passionately with the wild. It made him the brother to all untamed things in nature. It drew him apart and revealed itself wonderfully to him. It sent him out from the woods only to show these revelations through his art; and it took him to itself at last.” Beatty did a greater part of the actual erecting of the Thomson cairn by stacking boulders which he cemented together in a truncated pyramidical shape. The plate with MacDonald’s inscription was then mounted on the front of the cairn facing Canoe Lake. Not long afterwards MacDonald suffered a stroke due to his overwork, financial worries and a weak constitution which had troubled him most of his life. On top of all this was his deep sense of loss for his close friend Tom Thomson whom he had encouraged to artistic maturity from the earliest days at Grip. In a weakened condition MacDonald had to give up all his activities for a number of months. During his recovery he intensified his interest in poetry through the encouragement of Professor Barker Fairley. His poems were published in publications like The Rebel, The Canadian Forum and after his death in a book of verses West By East (1933). By September, 1918 MacDonald had recovered sufficiently to take his first boxcar sketching trip to Algoma organized by Lawren Harris. Harris had arranged that the boxcar be hooked to a freight or passenger train of the Algoma Central Railway which ran north for two hundred miles from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst, Ontario. When they had reached a promising location the box­car was left on a siding. On this first trip there were four in the party, MacDonald, Harris, Dr. MacCallum, and Frank Johnston. The boxcar was fixed up like a studio inside with bunks, bookshelves, and a stove also a canoe and a three-wheel jigger for short runs along the tracks. Their first stop was at Canyon Station where they sketched scenery along the Agawa River. Their next stop was at Hubert where MacDonald made preliminary studies for his large canvas “Autumn in Algoma” and many sketches that are today in the McMichael Conservation Collection, the National Gallery of Canada and several other galleries. At Hubert MacDonald saw for the first time the Montreal River. Their last stop was at Batchewana, then they headed home with the first batch of sketches. That winter MacDonald worked at his paintings creating first “The Wild River” (53″ x 64″) and others including “The Little Fall” (28″ x 36″). MacDonald, Harris and Johnston held their first exhibition of Algoma paintings at the Art Gallery of Toronto in May of 1919. The show included 144 works and the remarkable production of sixteen large paintings. Algoma was his most prolific period. He returned there on boxcar trips in the autumn of 1919 (with Jackson, Harris and Johnston), the spring of 1920 (with Harris, Jackson, Lismer) and the autumn of 1920 (with Harris, Jackson and Johnston). This country seemed to stir the very creative soul of MacDonald, evidence of which can be found in his letters and paintings. It was referred to as MacDonald’s country as later recalled by A.Y. Jackson who explained in his autobiography that MacDonald was not the robust woodsman type but “a quiet unadventurous person.” He could not swim or paddle, but was awed by the expansive and colourful panorama of heavily wooded country of lakes, hills and rivers winding their way by cataracts and falls to the edge of Lake Superior below. Many of the small lakes didn’t even have names, the beautiful ones they named after people they admired and the swampy ones with muddy shores, they named after critics who heaped abuse at their work in their columns. While the storm of criticism raged on, Harris, Jackson, Lismer, and Johnston worked with great excitement in the Studio Building (but a little later Johnston left the Group). From the Algoma period MacDonald produced the following canvases: “Gleams On The Hills” (32″ x 34″ – NGC); “Batchawana Rapid” (28″ x 36″ – NGC); “Autumn In Algoma” (47-1/2″ x 59-1/2″ – NGC); “The Solemn Land” (48″ x 60″ – NGC); “The Beaver Dam” (32-1/8″ x 34-1/8″ – AGO); “Falls, Montreal River” (48″ x 60-1/4″ – AGO); “Algoma Waterfall” (30″ x 35″ – McMichael Consv. Coll., Kleinburg); “Forest Wilderness” (48″ x 60″ – McM. Kleinburg); “October Shower Gleam” (40″ x 48″ – Hart House, U. of T.). In May of 1920 the first Group of Seven exhibition took place as a result of the formation of the Group about February or March of that year. The members were: Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston, Frank Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson and MacDonald who at forty-seven years of age was the eldest of the Group. Three other artists exhibited with them: R.S. Hewton, Robert Pilot and Albert Robinson, all from Montreal. MacDonald entered ten canvases and ten sketches. The canvases included “The Tangled Garden”, “Pumpkins and Pump”, “A Laurentian Village”, “The Wild River”, “The Little Fall”, “A Beaver Dam” (The Beaver Dam), six sketches of Lake Simcoe in addition to sketches of Algoma and Minden. MacDonald was appointed to the staff of the Ontario College of Art as instructor of decorative and commercial design. His new responsibilities left him little time for painting although he still managed “Mist Fantasy” (21-1/8″ x 26-1/4″ – AGO) in 1922, its sketch is in the National Gallery of Canada. During the summer of 1922 MacDonald visited Petite Rivière, Nova Scotia, and made a number of sketches from which he did “Sea-Shore, Nova Scotia” (NGC – sketch in McM., Kleinb.); “Nova Scotia Barn” (McM., Kleinb.), “Bridge At Petite Rivière, Nova Scotia” (NGC), “Church By the Sea” (Van. Art. Gal.) and several sketches of ships at sea. In 1923 MacDonald became art editor of Canadian Forum and also general designer for the decoration of St. Anne’s Church, Toronto. He did some of the murals himself while the following team worked with him: Frances Loring, Florence Wyle, Frank Carmichael, Arthur Martin, Neil McKechnie, H.S. Palmer, Herbert Stansfield, F.H. Varley, James Blomfield, John Keeley and J.E.H.’s son Thoreau MacDonald. The architect in charge of the work was Mr. Wm. Rae and his partner Mr. Baldwin who designed the detail for the ceiling and elsewhere. The rector at that time was Canon Skey. An article by MacDonald describing this work was published in The Journal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Vol. 2. In August of 1924 MacDonald made his first trip to the Rocky Mountains, and for six successive years returned to that area each August. But his teaching responsibilities sapped his energies and he did not produce many large works during this period. But he created a treasure of sketches considered lyrical, precise, richly painted, with an impression of distance, grandeur and mood. The National Gallery of Canada, The McMichael Conservation Collection, and the Art Gallery of Ontario have a good selection of his Rocky Mountain sketches. The few larger canvases include: “Rain In The Mountain” (Art Gal. Hamilton); “Early Morning, Rocky Mountains” (30-1/4″ x 35″ – Mr. & Mrs. Jules Loeb, Tor., Ont.); “Mount Goodsir, Yoho Park (42″ x 48” – Dr. & Mrs. M. Stern, Dom. Gal. Mtl.); “Cathedral Mountain, Lake O’Hara” (34-1/2″ x 45-1/2″ – Lady Fyfe, Lon. Eng.); “Goat Range, Rocky Mountains” (21″ x 26″ – McM. Coll., Kleinburg); “Mountain Snowfall Lake Oessa” (21″ x 26″ – Estate of Charles S. Band, Tor.); and a dozen or so others. “Early Morning, Rocky Mountains” owned by Mr. & Mrs. Jules Loeb, may be one of the finest of these larger mountain paintings. In 1928 MacDonald became Acting Principal of the Ontario College of Art; visited New York for the first time; designed foyer of Claridge Apartments. In 1929 he was appointed Principal of the College when G.A. Reid retired; designed mosaic decoration for the Concourse Building, Tor.; lectured on “Relation of Poetry to Painting”. In 1930 he made his last trip to the Rockies and painted several large canvases of this region. In 1931 he delivered the lecture “Scandinavian Art” at the Art Gallery of Toronto in which he discussed the work of twenty five artists, reviving the memories of Harris and himself during their visit to the Albright Art Gallery eighteen years before; sketches at McGregor Bay during September. In the winter of 1931 MacDonald suffered a stroke and had to drop all his activities. He went to the Barbados where he remained until April of 1932. During this slow convalescence his interest in painting revived and he did a number of sketches of the Barbados landscape of sea, coastline and tall palm trees (see coll. A.G.O. and N.G.C.). In March of 1932 he returned to Toronto and later resumed his duties at the Ontario College of Art. On November 22nd he took a second stroke in his office and on the 26th died. His loss was deeply felt by everyone. The Mail & Empire related, “As principal of the Ontario College of Art, he was sympathetic, desiring to find every student’s line of talent, not to dominate. As one conservative artist summed it up last evening: ‘Everybody liked him.'” E.R. Hunter in his biography of MacDonald described him in these words, “He held that life was all of a piece, and that the duty of every man was to understand it, find his right place in it, and be useful and happy. The tyranny of tradition in art or in any other form repelled him. While he preached no social gospel, there could be no mistake as to where his heart was. Cruelty he loathed, injustice, war; for these he reserved his hardest blows. He despised humbug, the charlatan, the poseur, the go-getter, the coward, the man who grovelled, and dismissed them with contempt. Of formal religion he had none, yet he was strangely moved when he thought of the Carpenter, and drew telling distinctions between hair-splitting theology and living religion. His religion resembles that of Burns in his passion for decency, kindness and justice. Yet, apart from all this, when looking at his pictures one believed with him that it was a glorious thing to be alive. And if one were to live, there was no place lovelier than Canada. He squandered without stint his rich resources of mind and heart upon his country, and through him Canada became more proudly conscious of itself, its worth and its work, its spirit and destiny.” Today MacDonald’s paintings are sought after by collectors. “Humber Valley” a small sketch (5-1/2″ x 6″) was sold to a Toronto dealer in 1969 for $1,700,38 “Wheatfields, Thorn Hill” (probably a larger sketch) was valued at $3,600 at the time of its theft from a Vancouver art gallery in 1971.39 His 8-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ sketches on book cover cardboard are worth up to $1,200 or more.

Colin S. MacDonald

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

 

SELECTED GROUP AND SOLO EXHIBITIONS:
1914,18,20,21,22,25,26,28,33,49, Art Gallery of Toronto
1920, Arts and Letters Club, Toronto
1926-32(Annually),33,36,52,53, National Gallery of Canada
1927, Musee du Jeu de Paume, Paris
c.1930, The Fine Art Gallery, T. Eaton Co., Toronto
1938, The Tate Gallery, London
1944, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven
1947, Dominion Gallery, Montreal (Memorial Exhibition)

Studied at

Night Classes, Hamilton Art School, 1887-88
Central Ontario School of Art And Designs, 1893

Professional Activities

Apprenticed at the Toronto Lithogrpahy Company, 1890
Designer at Grip Limited, Toronto, 1895-1903, 1907-1911
Joined Carton Studios, London, England, 1903
Devoted himself entirely to painting, 1911-

1893-1904, Developed pen and ink style during holiday travels in Ontario and Nova Scotia
1907, lived in High Park area where MacDonald did many earl watercolour & oil paintings of the surrounding trees
1909, Met Tom Thomson and F.H. Johnston and began sketching trips in Algonquin Park & Georgian Bay areas.  Met Lawren Harris at the Arts & Letters Club
1911, MacDonald resigned from Grip and devoted all his time to painting
- the Artists table at the Art & Letters Club included Jackson, Lawren Harris, Johnston, Arthur Lismer, Carmichael, Varley & MacDonald, all members of the Group of Seven had met.  They often went on camping/sketching trips.
1914, First trip to the Laurentians with Lawren Harris
- Studio Building compleated which housed MacDonald, Curtis Wililamson, J.W. Beatty, Arthur Heming, Lawren Harris, Tom Tomson and A.Y. Jackson
1916, MacDonald worked on series of sketches of his Thornhill garden for the eventual Tangled Garden canvas
1917, Tom Thomson drowns in Canoe Lake, MacDonald & Beatty take on the task of stamping Thompson's sketches with a new studio stamp
- MacDonald also desgined a plaque that was mounted on the Thomson cairn at Canoe Lake
1918, first of many boxcar sketching trip of the Algoma area organized by Lawren Harris
1919, first Algoma exhibition (MacDonald, Harris, Johnston)at the Art Gallery of Toronto
- Taught at the Ontario College of Art, 1921 - 1932

Member of

Founding and Most Senior Member of the Group of Seven
Toronto Arts Students’ League
The Arts and Letters Club
Ontario Society of Artists
Royal Canadian Academy