Tony Urquhart was born in 1934 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was recognized as one of Canada's pioneering abstract artists, having been one of the painters associated with The Isaacs Gallery in Toronto, and later with The Heart of London group (which included Jack Chambers, Greg Curnoe, and Murray Favro.)
Between 1954 and 1958 he attended the Albright Art School in Buffalo. In 1960 he became the first artist-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario, where he subsequently started his teaching career. In 1972 he became a full-time professor of Fine Arts at the University of Waterloo and remained on the faculty for three decades (living with his family in the nearby town of Wellesley, Ontario.)
In 1958 he embarked on the first of many annual trips to Europe, where he was attracted to what he called the 'otherness' of the visual experience he encountered there. He was particularly drawn to the landscape, architecture and pilgrimage sites (such as Lourdes and Vimy Ridge in France). He has made a study of 19th and 20th century French cemeteries from Pere La Chaise in Paris to the hundreds of small country graveyards outside of humble villages throughout France. He has a collection of over 800 120mm slides of sites and cemetery artifacts (wreaths, wrought iron objects, etc) which he often uses as reference for his drawings, paintings and box sculptures.
Tony has been involved in the illustration of works by his wife, the writer Jane Urquhart, as well as those of Michael Ondaatje, Matt Cohen, Louis Dudek, Rohinton Mistry and Nino Ricci.
He was one of the founders of CAR/FAC (Canadian Artists Representation), that successfully established a fee structure for public museum and gallery exhibitions of contemporary artists. Tony Urquhart was named to the Order of Canada in 1995.
He divides his time between Stratford, Ontario and Ireland. He's an avid golfer.