Rita Letendre was born in Drummondville, Québec in 1928. In 1941 her family moved to Montréal. She studied at École des Beaux-Arts in Montréal in 1948, however unsatisfied with the conservative teachings, like many other artists at the time, she left the schol and began associating with the abstract, surrealist painters Les Automatistes.
In the 1950's through her associations with Les Automatistes her artistic abilities were recognized. During this time she often exhibited small abstract gouache works. Her painting techniques were indeed influenced by the work of painters such as Paul-Émile Bourduas, however she developed her own individual style that gained international recognition. Most notable are her works that incorporate her motif of the arrow, these works developped a more geomatric and linear style that were more like the works produced by Les Plasticiens.
In 1954 she was included in an Automatiste group exhibit, 'La matière chante'. This exhibit was essential in the rise of the popularity of abstract art in Québec.
In 1955 Letendre exhibited in Espace 55 at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montréal.
By the 1960's Letendre had reached an international audience exhibiting in New York and at the National Gallery of Canada.
Letendre travelled and lived in France, Israel, Italy and the United States before settling in Toronto in 1970 where she currently resides.
Letendre is represented by Montréal’s Galerie Simon Blais. She is a member of The Royal Canadian Academy.