E.R. Hunter’s J.E.H. MacDonald: a biography & catalogue of his work (Toronto, 1940) describes MacDonald going to Algonquin Park in March, 1914, later Minden, and it was perhaps when going to or from Minden that he made his visit to Burks Falls when the spring flowers in the foreground here were blooming. While unusual because of vertical format, the present composition is consistent with another Burks Falls subject, Dull Day, Burks Falls [oil on board, 7 x 5in. – sight, coll. Mrs. R Hubbard, in, J.E.H. MacDonald, R.C.A., 1873-1932, exhibition catalogue by Nancy E. Robertson (Toronto: Art Gallery of Toronto, 1965): no.55, p.46 (illustrated in black and white)]. Dull Day is also unsigned.
A co-founder of the Group of Seven, Macdonald had dedicated himself to landscape painting in 1912, leaving his work in the commercial art firm of Grip Ltd. Toronto. He was already initiating the idea of the group, exhibiting with Lawren Harris from 1912 and inviting A.Y. Jackson to join them both in Toronto in the spring of 1913, the painters sharing a mission to found a school of Canadian art which was dedicated to painting the Canadian wilderness. From 1918, Macdonald, Harris and other artists worked together every autumn in the Algoma district north of Lake Superior. Their mission was realised in 1920 with the foundation of the Group of Seven, the founding members Macdonald, Harris, Jackson, Varley, Johnston, Lismer and Carmichael.