The Barbados Journal
The Barbados Journal, 1932J.E.H. MacDonald
Edited with an Introduction by John W. Sabean
8 X 10 inches, 112 pages
40 b&w facsimile reproductions from his diary and sketchbook, 30 b&w photographs
DURING THE EARLY PART OF 1932, the year in which he died, J.E.H. MacDonald decided with his wife Joan to go on a trip to Barbados to help speed his recovery from a mild stroke suffered the previous year. At the request of Doris Huestis Mills, MacDonald recorded his impressions in a notebook she gave him on his departure, and drew pencil and pen-and-ink sketches on sheets of C.N. notepaper. This publication, prepared by John Sabean, presents a facsimile reproduction of that notebook (together with its transcript) containing 17 sketches. It also includes a selection of snapshots taken by the artist and his wife and a number of letters they wrote during their holiday.
As senior designer at Toronto's prestigious Grip Ltd., J.E.H. MacDonald presided over the talented studio of artists who, meeting regularly at the Arts and Letters Club, banded together in 1920 as the Group of Seven. Although he quit Grip in 1912 to paint full-time and later taught at the Ontario College of Art, MacDonald was a working designer until his premature death. His credo in life as well as in graphic and decorative art was "The Harmony of Means and Purpose."
Following his death in November 1932, the year in which he took a recuperative holiday in Barbados and later produced six of his most brilliant canvases, the Group of Seven was formally disbanded. Without J.E.H. MacDonald, the fire was gone.
John W. Sabean
John W. Sabean is a cultural and intellectual historian whose usual research sphere is fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Britain and Europe. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Guelph, where he studied under Dr. W. Stanford Reid. His training in paleography was not without value in deciphering the handwriting of J.E.H. MacDonald.
A former teacher at several colleges, he is now a freelance writer and researcher. His latest finished project, A Boy All Spirit, draws from the notebooks and correspondence of Thoreau MacDonald, the son of J.E.H. MacDonald. Sabean is an amateur naturalist (as was Thoreau MacDonald) and the former editor of The Pickering Naturalist.