J.E.H. MacDonald

Wiwaxy Peaks, From Odaray Mt., Above Lake O'Hara c.1930,

Oil on panel
8.5 x 10.5 in

Gallery Phillip Gevik, Toronto
Masters Gallery, Calgary
Private collection, Calgary

In the autumn of 1924 MacDonald travelled from his home in Toronto by train to the tiny region of Lake O’Hara, in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. MacDonald was on a painting holiday. He wanted new scenery, some solitude, and a change of pace. He was also looking for a broader view of the country that he and his fellow Group of Seven members had lauded on canvas in their nationalist plea for homegrown Canadian art.

MacDonald’s seven trips to Lake O’Hara had a profound effect on him. This is evidenced in his memoir, “A Glimpse of the West”, written in late September or early October of 1924. This poetic memoir of MacDonald’s first trip to Lake O’Hara was meant to be delivered to his students at the Ontario College of Art. But more important than the letters and more vivid than the journals are the oil sketches. The roughly 100 oil sketches MacDonald painted during the seven trips to Lake O’Hara were charming mountainscapes that attest to the beauty of the area.
Most of these working sketches were in his possession at the time of his death and were the artist’s visual notes showing his efforts to capture the varied weather, light, and atmospheric qualities of his surroundings.
Paraphased from: Christensen, Lisa, The Lake O’Hara Art of J.E.H. MacDonald and Hiker’s Guide, Fifth House Ltd. Calgary, 2003