News Archive

Doris Jean McCarthy
July 7, 1910 - November 25, 2010

Doris McCarthy passed away peacefully on the morning of November 25, 2010, at Fool’s Paradise, the home she built and lived in since the 1940’s in Scarborough, Ontario. McCarthy was a much loved and celebrated artist, writer, teacher and friend. She will continue to be an inspiration to countless Canadians who have recognized her as one of the most cherished interpreters of our rugged landscape.

McCarthy was born July 7, 1910, in Calgary, Alberta and from the age of two grew up in the Beach, in the east end of Toronto. In 1926 she earned a scholarship to the Ontario College of Art where she was mentored by some of the premier Canadian artists of the early twentieth century, including both Arthur Lismer and JEH MacDonald. Following her graduation in 1930, McCarthy took on a position in the newly created children’s art school at the Art Gallery of Ontario under the leadership of Arthur Lismer. She continued to teach in her post at the Art Department of Central Technical School until her retirement in 1971. During these years she exhibited regularly with the Ontario Society of Artists becoming it’s president from 1961 to 1964. She became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Artists (1951) and the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour (1951), (and for which she served as President from 1956 to 1958). She would continue to establish her position as one of Toronto’s major emerging artists and later, as perhaps the foremost female landscape painter in Canada. At the time of her retirement from teaching, Doris made her first trip to the Canadian Arctic incorporating the experiments in abstraction that had occupied her through the 1960’s. In 1979 she joined WTG where she continued to mount annual exhibitions to great acclaim.

Asters in the Field at Fool's Paradise,1953, watercolour on paper, 22"x30"

Banner #2, 1968, oil on canvas, 24" x 30"

Her place in the canon of great Canadian artists has been solidified. McCarthy is the recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario, as well as numerous fellowships and honourary doctorates from institutions across Canada, including the University of Toronto and the Ontario College of Art and Design. She was also named the first Artist of Honour by the McMichael Canadian Collection. McCarthy was devoted to learning throughout her life and graduated from the University of Toronto Scarborough in 1989 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree.

North Beach Perce, 1954, oil on canvas, 24" x 27"

Iceberg with Moon, 2002, oil on canvas, 48" x 60"

There are several books on McCarthy, including Celebrating Life: The Art of Doris McCarthy, published by the McMichael, and her original 2-part autobiography A Fool in Paradise and The Good Wine, published by McFarlane, Walter & Ross. There is also an hour-long docu-drama Doris McCarthy: Heart of a Painter, by W. Wacko Productions. Currently in print are Doris McCarthy:My Life, (an abridged version of McCarthy’s two-volume autobiography), written with Charis Wahl, and Doris McCarthy: Ninety Years Wise, by Doris, both published by Second Story Press.

On the occasion of Doris McCarthy’s one-hundredth birthday in July 2010, the exhibition Roughing It in the Bush, a celebration of her inspiring life and work, curated by Nancy Campbell, was organized by The Doris McCarthy Art Gallery, University of Toronto at Scarborough. A catalogue is available at Wynick/Tuck Gallery and the Doris McCarthy Art Gallery.