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Art exhibition celebrates the life and times of Doris McCarthy


On the occasion of Doris McCarthy’s 100th birthday in July, the Doris McCarthy Gallery at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) will celebrate the talent of this Canadian painter with Roughing It in the Bush, an art exhibit featuring her inspiring life and artistic work. Curated by Nancy Campbell, the exhibition will highlight some of McCarthy’s repertoire that remains relatively unexplored, looking at her much-loved art in a new way. The exhibit runs from June 19 to July 24 at the Doris McCarthy Gallery (DMG) located at 1265 Military Trail on the UTSC campus. It is co-presented by the gallery and the University of Toronto Art Centre.

Throughout her long career, McCarthy has been an influential artist, educator and author who has contributed to major art developments throughout the 20th century. As the last surviving student of Canadian Group of Seven member Arthur Lismer, McCarthy has also carried on the tradition of the famous group of painters through her own work and teaching.

As an art history teacher during the mid-1900s, McCarthy traveled the world – visiting the high Arctic and Antarctica 12 times – to photograph and sketch its many wonders for her students. Over the years, she has produced a prolific body of work and is best known for her landscape paintings and Arctic icebergs. She has also taught and mentored some of Canada’s most distinguished creative people and was the first woman President of the Ontario Society of Artists.

Born in Alberta in 1910, she moved with her family to Toronto in 1913 and grew up in the Beaches. McCarthy graduated with honours from the Ontario College of Art in 1930 and also studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, England and the Ontario Training College for Technical Teachers. She taught art for 40 years at Toronto’s Central Technical High School and was the subject of an award-winning docu-drama titled Doris McCarthy, Heart of a Painter. At the age of 79, McCarthy graduated from the University of Toronto Scarborough in 1989 with a BA in English. In March 2004, UTSC opened a brand new exhibition space bearing her name and dedicated to the presentation of leading contemporary artwork.

For her continuing contribution to Canada’s artistic community, McCarthy has received numerous honours, including: The Order of Canada; The Order of Ontario; five Honorary Doctorates, an Honorary Fellowship to The Ontario College of Art and Design; and the first Artist of Honour at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

As a philanthropist, she has also donated her Scarborough Bluffs home and an endowment for its maintenance to be used as an artist studio/sanctuary after her death. McCarthy’s work is collected by major institutions, including the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada. Her paintings are also featured in many corporate and private collections.

Everyone is welcome to celebrate Doris McCarthy’s artistic life and works with Roughing It in the Bush from June 19 to July 24. For more information visit,

© University of Toronto Scarborough