Thoreau MacDonald

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Thoreau MacDonald at his home in Thornhill, c. 1950 Thoreau MacDonald, son of Group of Seven Artist J.E.H. MacDonald, at his home in Thornhill, c1950.jpg
Thoreau MacDonald at his home in Thornhill, c.1950

Thoreau MacDonald (April 21, 1901 at Toronto, Ontario – May 30, 1989 at Toronto) [1] was a Canadian illustrator, graphic and book designer, and artist. [2]



MacDonald was the son of Group of Seven member J. E. H. MacDonald. He was self-taught, but had worked on commercial art with his father, who was famous for his work in design. [3] [4] [ page needed ] Thoreau MacDonald was colour blind and as a result he worked primarily in black and white. [1]

MacDonald's contribution was mainly to the history of the area of graphic art in Canada and the United States. As an illustrator, MacDonald worked for Ryerson Press; Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; the Canadian Forum magazine for which he designed many covers; [5] and on books in general, including those from his private press. [6] He considered his finest book to be Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hémon for Macmillan Company (1938). [7] He also designed lettering, [8] and did paintings, watercolours and drawings. [9] His work is found in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Hart House at the University of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection among other collections. [10] There was one major exhibition of his work in Canada during his lifetime in 1952 at Museum London (then called the London Public Library and Art Museum). [11] In 1972, he was made an Honorary Life member of the Society of Ontario Naturalists whose cause he considered he had served life-long. [10]

His former home and 4-acre (16,000 m2) garden in Vaughan, Ontario, which he inherited from his father, was donated to the City of Vaughan in 1974. The building and grounds have been restored and are open to the public. [12]


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  1. MacDonald told Toronto art collectors that this painting depicted him. [13]



  • Edison, Margaret (1973). Thoreau MacDonald. Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  • Furness, Amy Marshall; Fitzgibbon, Gary (2013). "Description & Finding Aid: Thoreau MacDonald Collection A OTAG SC104" (PDF). Art Gallery of Ontario. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 6, 2019. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  • Murray, Joan (2013). "Thoreau MacDonald". The Canadian Encyclopedia . Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  • Murray, Joan (2016). "Day Dreaming, Winter 1913–15". Tom Thomson Catalogue Raisonné.
  • Stacey, Robert (1996). J.E.H. MacDonald: Designer. Ottawa: Archives of Canadian Art. Retrieved February 7, 2021.