THOREAU MACDONALD — artist, designer, calligrapher, writer, publisher, farmer, naturalist, nature lover and conservationist.
THOREAU MACDONALD was born in Toronto, Ontario. His formative years were spent in rural areas near High Park, Toronto, and Thornhill, Ontario. Thoreau’s drawings and writings about the wild plants and animals native to these parts reflect his deep concern for and support of nature conservation.
Thoreau has created thousands of art works including black-and-white pencil, pen and brush drawings, stencils, linocuts, woodcuts, silkscreens, watercolours and oils. He became a master in creating detailed line drawings of natural objects set within their stylized habitats.
Under his Woodchuck Press imprint, Thoreau designed and published sixteen books or booklets of his own. His drawings and calligraphy have adorned hundreds of books written by others. The most notable among these are Flint and Feather, E. Pauline Johnson, 1924; Lyrics of Earth: Sonnets and Ballads, Archibald Lampman, 1925; The Chopping Bee and other Laurentian Stories, Brother Marie Victorin, 1925; Ateliers: Études sur vingt-deux peintres et sculpteurs canadiens, Jean Chauvin, 1928; West by East, and Other Poems, J.E.H. MacDonald, 1933; Maria Chapdelaine, Louis Hémon, translated by W.H. Blake, 1938: J.E.H. MacDonald. A Biography and Catalogue of his Work, E.R. Hunter, 1940;Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1942; David and Other Poems, Earle Birney, 1942; Six Trees, the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, Montreal, 1951: The Story of the Group of Seven, Lawren Harris, 1964; and Tom Thomson: the Algonquin Years, Ottelyn Addison in collaboration with Elizabeth Harwood 1969.
Significant collections of Thoreau MacDonald’s drawings and paintings are held at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, McGill University, Art Gallery of Ontario, Kleinburg’s McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Art Gallery of Hamilton, London Regional Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, Upper Canada College in Toronto, Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.
Robert Hunter (1942) aptly wrote that Thoreau MacDonald was “a defender of the simple life, and a believer in the right of all things to live in their own way.”
Compiled in part from:
Edison, Margaret E. 1973. Thoreau MacDonald. A Catalogue of Design and Illustration. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.
Flood, John. 1977. Northern Ontario Art: A Study in Line Drawings. Part 1: Thoreau MacDonald. Boréal 9:2 -11.
Flood, John. 1980. Thoreau MacDonald’s Notebooks, Moonbeam, Ontario: Penumbra Press.
Hunter, Robert E. 1942. Thoreau MacDonald, Toronto, Ontario: Ryerson Press.
Pierce, L. Bruce. 1971. Thoreau MacDonald. Illustrator, Designer, Observer of Nature. Toronto, Ontario: Norflex Limited.
Pierce, Lorne. 1942. Thoreau MacDonald. Toronto, Ontario: Ryerson Press.
Thoreau translated his Latin motto DUCIT AMOR PATRIÆ as “Love of country leads me on.”