Doris McCarthy was born in 1910 in Calgary, however she was raised in the Beaches area of Toronto, Ontario. She studied at The Ontario College of Art under members of the Group of Seven, she graduated with honors in 1930.
She began teaching at Toronto’s Central Technical School in 1931, she taught at the school for forty years. In 1950 she embarked on a sabbatical in Europe that lasted over a year. During this time she also painted full time.
McCarthy also embarked on a year-long solo world tour In 1961, making visits to Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Spain, France and England.
In 1972 McCarthy retired from teaching and made her first of many trips to the Canadian Arctic. She made many more expeditions with friend and filmmaker Wendy Wacko. Together they created the documentary ‘Doris McCarthy, Heart of a Painter’.
McCarthy has received many awards and distinctions including, President, Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolor, in 1956, President, Ontario Society of Artists, in 1964, Canadian Woman Artist of the Year Award, n 1983, The Order of Canada, in 1986, The Order of Ontario, in 1992, and membership in The Royal Canadian Academy, among others.
She died in Scarborough, Ontario in 2010.