Kathleen Daly Pepper was born in Napanee, Ontario, in 1898. She studied at Toronto’s Havergal College The University of Toronto, graduating in 1920. From 1920-24 she studied at The Ontario College of Art where she was taught by a number of famous Canadian painters such as J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, J.W. Beatty, George Reid and Fred Haines.
In 1924 she began summer courses at The Académie de la Grand Chaumière and the Parsons School of Design in Paris, with a focus on woodblock under René Pottier. She explored much of Europe by bicycle with fellow painters Yvonne McKague and Roselyn Kenny. She remained in Europe until the early 1930's.
Daly returned to Canada and focused on creating etchings as part of her postgraduate work.
She married Canadian painter George Pepper, with who she took painting trips with in the Laurentians, from Banff to Nova Scotia, Ellesmere Island, Povungnituk in Canada’s eastern Arctic, as well as to northern Labrador and south to the Catskill Mountains in New York State. Together they built a studio cabin in Charlevoix County. They would also become long-term tenants in the Studio Building in Toronto beginning in 1934, working there for seventeen years.
Daly contributed an illustration to Dr. Marius Barbeau’s 'The Kingdom of the Saguenay' in 1936.
She worked in many mediums including oil, watercolour, pen and ink, lithographic crayon, pastel and charcoal, and explored various types of printmaking. She was a master at brilliant effects of colour and light, and used this skill in both her landscapes and her portraits to great effect. She was an accomplished portraitist, painting sympathetic images of the Inuit people of Labrador, the Stoney First Nations of Alberta and the Montagnais of Charlevoix.
She exhibited with the Group of Seven in 1931, and had a lifelong friendship with A.Y. Jackson, a fellow tenant at the Studio Building in Toronto. During her lifetime her work was selected for numerous prestigious exhibitions such as the British Empire Exhibition of 1936 and the Tate Gallery’s 1938 A Century of Canadian Art.
Daly was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, the Ontario Society of Artists and the Canadian Group of Painters. Her work is represented in The National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the London Regional Art and Historical Museum, The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, the Glenbow Museum and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
She died in 1994 in Toronto, Ontario.