In 1912, MacDonald won much attention for his role in an exhibition at the OttawaSociety of Artists. In March 1916, MacDonald again exhibited there, with The Tangled Garden.
Two years later, in autumn, he travelled to Algoma in a specially outfitted railway car made to act as a mobile studio. It was so productive that he repeated this for several years. From that car he created some amazing paintings, including The Solemn Land (1920).
MacDonald passed away on November 26, 1932, in Toronto, Ontario at the age of 59.
His home and garden in Vaughan, Ontario has been carefully restored, and is open to the public — it is owned by the City of Vaughan.
On June 8, 1973, Canada Post issued a “J.E.H. MacDonald” stamp.