Hilton Hassell was born in 1910 in Lachine, Québec. He spent his childhood in several locations in Southern Ontario before his parents settled in Port Credit, Ontario, now Mississauga.
In 1929, Hassell studied under JEH MacDonald and FH Johnson, members of the Group of Seven. he also studied with JW Beattie at the Ontario College of Art. Hassell became quite familiar with the Group of Seven painting with A.Y. Jackson on The Georgian Bay, and befriending AJ Casson.
In 931 he went on a trip to England and France to study. He won the Canadian National Exhibition Poster Competition and embarked on a career as a commercial artist in portraiture, advertising, and book illustration.
Throughout his career Hassell also held the positions of art director of Maclean's Magazine and creative director of Brigden's Ltd.
in 1953, Hassell devoted himself exclusively to freelance painting and travelled to England with his wife and children. He also undertook figure and portraiture studies with Hayward Veal at the Heatherleys School for four months. His travels continued throughout his life, he made many international trips, most notable are his trips to the Arctic which he used as inspiration for his paintings often.
Hassell was commissioned to complete numerous portraits, including one of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their first Royal visit to Canada in 1951.
He died in 1980.