Donald Alvin Jarvis was born in 1923 in Vancouver. He studied at The Vancouver School of Art under B.C. Binning, Jack Shadbolt and others, from 1941-1946. He then pursued studies in New York City under Hans Hofmann.
In 1950 he returned to Vancouver and became a drawing and painting instructor at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design for over three decades.
He was awarded The Emily Carr Scholarship in 1948, a Canada Council Senior Arts Fellowship in 1961, and was elected membership with The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
Jarvis died in Sechelt, British Columbia in 2001.
His work is part of the collections at The National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Greather Victoria, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The Beaverbrooke Art Gallery, Maltwood Art Museum & Gallery, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Simon Fraser Gallery, Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery, and Concordia University.