Series LA.SC104.S1 - Some designs for H.D. Thoreau’s Walden

Identity area

Reference code



Some designs for H.D. Thoreau’s Walden


  • 1933 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 portfolio ; 41 x 28 x 5 cm

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Thoreau MacDonald (1901–1989) was a Canadian artist, book illustrator and art editor. Son of Harriet Joan Lavis and Group of Seven painter J.E.H. MacDonald, he was born outside Toronto and named for American transcendentalist author Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862). Largely self-taught, Thoreau MacDonald worked with his father to develop his artistic ability. His prints and drawings are chiefly in black and white owing to colour blindness. He never married. Thoreau MacDonald’s working career was spent for the most part at the Ryerson Press and Canadian Forum magazine, for which he produced hundreds of drawings and linocuts. In 1933 he became a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters. He was especially regarded for his prints and drawings of subjects from nature. In the late 1930s he founded the Woodchuck Press in Thornhill, Ont. to produce bookplates and labels along with illustrated publications. Thoreau MacDonald died in Toronto in 1989. His work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Hart House at the University
of Toronto, the McMichael Collection and the National Gallery of Canada.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Series comprises a portfolio of ink drawings made in Toronto in 1933 for Thoreau MacDonald’s planned illustrated edition of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (originally published: Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854), and a volume (booklet) of pencil sketches of the layouts of the book. A note pasted inside the front cover of the portfolio, written by MacDonald, indicates the scope of the project, which was to have
included some 60 designs for the book.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Material in this collection is in the public domain. Permission of the Art Gallery of Ontario is required for publication.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area


Credit line: Art Gallery of Ontario | Gift of E.R. Hunter, 2007
Also known as the Walden Portfolio. — Title of the series is based on the cover title of the portfolio:
“Some designs for H.D. Thoreau’s Walden made by Thoreau MacDonald, 25 Severn St., Toronto.”

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Edward P. Taylor Library and Archives, Art Gallery of Ontario

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Originally prepared in 2013


  • English



Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places