Helen Galloway McNicoll was born in 1879 in Toronto, Ontario however shortly after her family relocated and she was raised in Montréal. At two years old she became very ill with scarlet fever which resulted in leaving her deaf. She went to school like other children, but also received special tutoring to learn lip reading.
McNicoll studied at The Art Association of Montréal for two years. Following her studies she travelled to England further her studieds at several art schools. She spent a bried period of time in France where she opened a personal studio.
In 1906, McNicoll returned to England and studied at Julius Olsson's School of Landscape and Sea Painting in St. Ives, Cornwall. Here she met life-long friend and artist Dorothea Sharp. Together they traveled and shared studio space for a few years.
Although McNicoll remained in England she continually sent work back to Canada to be included in annual exhibitions ar the Art Association of Montréal, The Royal Canadian Academy, The Canadian National Exhibition and The Ontario Society of Artists.
In 1913 McNicoll was elected into the Royal Society of British Artists, and was celebrated in the Montéal Daily Star.
She died in 1915.