ArtworksEdwin HolgateBarns in Snow, Malbaie, 1926 (circa)1892-1977Sold
Inscriptionssigned, 'E Holgate' (lower left); titled, signed and inscribed by the artist on label, ‘Barns in Snow / Malbaie / Edwin H Holgate / $30’ (verso, centre)
Private collection, Montreal;
By descent to the present owners.
This exciting and early composition by Edwin Holgate exemplifies the spirit of the Group of Seven, of which the artist would become a member in 1929. Holgate’s label on the back gives us the title, Barns in Snow, Malbaie. The artist painted on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River on several occasions during the 1920s. In 1923 and 1924, he went with A.Y. Jackson to Baie St. Paul and the surrounding areas. In 1926, the artists ventured to La Malbaie, further down the St. Lawrence River.
Although Holgate did not supply a date for Barns in Snow, Malbaie, the colors and the environmental conditions implied by the snow on the ground and rooftops, compare to those in La Malbaie (Murray Bay), 1926 (Private Collection).
Barns in Snow, Malbaie is painted with vigour, and Holgate gave us a good sense of the time of day. The shadows suggest it was likely late afternoon, as the sun was getting low in the sky and the barns were casting long shadows. The piles of snow topping the trees in the background and the logs stacked beside the barn on the left, suggest a recent snowfall.
In writing about A.Y. Jackson, Charles C. Hill has referred to the artist’s perception of harmony between the sagging old buildings that characterized Charlevoix's landscapes and villages in the 1920s, and the region’s rolling landscape. According to Jackson, during the Depression the locals had little to do, so they tore down their old barns and built new "unpaintable ones".  This clearly is not yet the case when Holgate painted Barns in Snow, Malbaie.
In his autobiography, A Painter's Country, A.Y. Jackson noted that for a number of reasons he, Holgate and Albert Robinson worked in La Malbaie in the late winter. Holgate moved about the snowy Charlevoix landscape on cross country skis. Another avid skier who joined them occasionally was Clarence Gagnon, who lived in Baie St. Paul (between stays in Paris). Jackson trudged along on his snowshoes. Jackson believed that it was Holgate who gave him the nickname Père Raquette (Father Snowshoe). 
La Malbaie (“The Bad Bay”), was named by French explorer Samuel de Champlain who, in 1605, failed to find suitable anchorage there. For a period of time, La Malbaie was also known by the unofficial name Murray Bay.
1. Jackson letter to Anne Savage, 11 April 1932, as per Charles C Hill Farm at Port au Persil MMD Collection
2. A.Y Jackson. Painter’s Country : The Autobiography, (Clarke, 1976)