Henri Masson was born 10 January 1907 in Spy, a small village near Namur in Belgium. He started his studies at the Athénée Royale of Brussels when he was 13 and from then on all his spare time was devoted to drawing and painting. After his father died in 1921, he and his mother immigrated to Canada, settling in Ottawa.
He started working in an engraving studio in Ottawa in 1923. He also took courses at the Ottawa Art Association and the Ottawa Art Club. In the 1940s critics extolled Masson’s realism, the intensity of his color and his gift for satire.
The critic P. Gélinas, writing in Le Jour, congratulated Masson for not following the current fashion in art, developing his own vision rather than choosing a middle ground between cubism and surrealism. He also noted that Masson had a sense of luminosity, an understanding of the drama of autumn, the tragedy of the wind and the indefinable mystery of light. In the eyes of the critics Masson was one of the best watercolorists in the country.