Thomas Martin was born in 1838 in London, England. Martin started working as a carpenter during his adolescence. During his spare time he studied landscape and figurative art with a Ataway and Humphreys at the South Kensington School of Art. Besides these informal instructions he was mostly self-taught.
Martin immigrated to Canada in 1862 settling in the Muskokas where he created many of his most notable works. He was one of the artists involved in the creation of The Ontario Society of Artists in 1872.
In 1879 Martin was the first Director of the Ontario Society of Artists school, he also taught whlile continuing his own painting practice. At this time he was also invovled with The Art Union in Toronto, a group that focused on promoting the appreciation and sale of visual arts.
Throughout his life Martin travelled frequently throughout Ontario, from Québec to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the West Coast.
Martin created many artworks while traveling, he agreed to give the Canadian Pacific Railway first rights to his paintings for the CPR hotels and for advertising in return for free passage on the railway.
In 1880 Martin was a founding and charter member of the Royal Academy of Artists. In 1882 his works were some of the first to become part of the National Art Gallery’s collection in Ottawa.
he died in 1934.