Doris McCarthy

Doris McCarthy - C.M., O.O., F.O.C.A.& D., L.L.D., R.C.A., O.S.A., C.S.P.W.C.


Doris McCarthy is a great painter and a distinguished Canadian. McCarthy's contributions to Canadian art are impressive. She has produced an unparalleled body of work spanning over 75 years with an estimated 6000 paintings in a variety of media. She was elected the first woman President of the Ontario Society of Artists and has taught some of Canada's most distinguished creative people. As a key figure in this country's art scene since the 1920s, McCarthy has experimented with, and contributed to the major art developments throughout the 20th century. She has distinguished herself as an important artist and an inspirational teacher. Besides her talent, what she is best known for is her accolade as Canada’s Most Loved Artist.”


She was born in Calgary, Alberta on July 7, 1910 and moved to Toronto in 1913, living in the Beach area of Toronto. In 1921 she entered Malvern Collegiate Institute. She studied at the Ontario College of Art (OCA) and graduated in 1930 (faculty members include Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, Emanuel Hahn, Yvonne McKague Housser, J.W. Beatty, Miss Grace Coombs, Charles Goldhamer and others). From 1932 until 1972 she taught art at Central Technical School.  In 1939, Doris bought her property on Lake Ontario and several years later her mother named it "Fool's Paradise", a name that stuck.  In 1998 Doris donated the property and her home to Ontario Heritage Foundation to be used as an artist studio after her death.


For her continuing contribution to Canada's artistic community, Doris McCarthy has received The Order of Canada, The Order of Ontario, five Honorary Doctorates, and an Honorary Fellowship to The Ontario College of Art and Design. In November 1999, McCarthy was named the first Artist of Honour at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. On March 11, 2004 the University of Toronto, Scarborough opened the Doris McCarthy Gallery in her honour and will eventually hold her archives.


Highlights of Her Life as an Artist:


  • Begins one-year sabbatical with fellow teacher and artist, Virginia Luz to Britain and Europe, June 1950
  • Elected associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (R.C.A.), 1951
  • Elected member of the Canadian Society of Painters and Watercolours (C.S.P.W.C.), 1952
  • Elected secretary of the C.S.P.W.C., 1953
  • Elected vice-president of the O.S.A., 1961-1964
  • Begins another sabbatical, this time alone and ventures in to Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Israel (1961) before returning to Rome, Spain, France and England (1962)
  • Elected president of the O.S.A., 1964-1967
  • Receives Civic Award of Merit for the City of Scarborough, 1982
  • Subject of the award-winning documentary film entitled "Doris McCarthy, Heart of a Painter", produced by W. Wacko Productions Limited, Jasper, Alberta, 1983
  • Receives Tia Maria Award as Canadian Woman Artist of the Year, 1983
  • Appointed Member of the Order of Canada (C.M.) , 1986
  • After 15 years of courses, graduates with an honours degree in literature and a prize for highest standing in the Humanities, University of Toronto, 1989
  • "A Fool in Paradise, an Artist's Early Life", written by Doris McCarthy is published by MacFarlane Walter & Ross, Toronto, 1990
  • Appointed a Fellow of Ontario College of Art, 1990
  • "Doris McCarthy, Feast of Incarnation Paintings", 1929-1989, published by The Stratford Gallery, 1990
  • "The Good Wine", written by Doris McCarthy, is published by MacFarlane Walter & Ross, Toronto, 1991
  • Major retrospectives of McCarthy's work are mounted, 1990, 1992, 1996 and two in 1999
  • Appointed to the Order of Ontario, 1992
  • Receives Honourary Doctor of Law Degree (L.L.D.) from the University of Calgary, 1995
  • Honoured by the City of Scarborough with "Doris McCarthy Day", June 4th, 1996
  • Receives Honourary degree of Doctor of Letters, Nipissing University, 1998
  • Receives William Kilbourn Award from the City of Toronto Arts Foundation, 1998
  • Donates her beloved home, "Fool's Paradise", and a $500,000 endowment, to Ontario Heritage to be used as an artist's studio/retreat after her death, 1998
  • Receives the status of Artist of Honour from the McMichael Canadian Collection of Art, 1999
  • "Doris McCarthy", The View From Here, published by The Mississauga Art Gallery, 1999
  • "Celebrating Life", The Art of Doris McCarthy, published by The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1999
  • Doris welcomes the world to celebrate life with her on the internet at, 2000
  • Becomes the first Recipient of the Julius Griffith Award on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of The Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, 2000
  • Receives an honourary Senior Signature membership [SFCA Hon] from the Federation of Canadian Artists, 2000
  • Watercolour retrospective, "The View from Here", opens at The Thunder Bay Art Gallery in January 2001 and The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in June 2001
  • Honoured by the City of Toronto with Doris McCarthy Trail
  • Receives Doctorate of Laws from University of Toronto, November 20, 2001
  • Receives Doctorate of Laws from Trent University, May 31, 2002
  • Receives Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta, June 10, 2002
  • Receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Scarborough Chamber of Commerce
  • Doris is honoured with the installation of Passage, a sculpture to mark McCarthy’s relationship to the land, October 31, 2002.
  • Honoured by the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus with the opening of the Doris McCarthy Gallery, March 11, 2004.
  • "Ninety Years Wise", written by Doris McCarthy, published by Second Story Press, Toronto, 2004.