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Born in Sheffield, England in 1885. Died in Montréal, Quebec in 1969.
Lismer, who was trained at the Sheffield School of Fine Arts in England from 1899 to 1906, and then at the Antwerp Royal Academy (1906–1907), immigrated to Canada in 1891 and looked for work as a commercial illustrator.
He worked as a commercial artist for Toronto’s Grip Ltd. advertising agency, where he met J.E.H. MacDonald, Tom Thomson, Franz Johnston and Franklin Carmichael. He returned to England to be married and talked Frederick Varley into immigrating to Canada. Lismer became a professor at the Victoria School of Art and Design in Halifax (1916–1919).
He returned to Toronto, where he was appointed associate director of the Ontario College of Art in 1919. He was a member of the Group of Seven, and from 1927 to 1938, was in charge of teaching at the Toronto Art Gallery. He gave a series of lectures in Europe and South Africa, where he taught in 1936 and 1937. From 1941 to 1967, he administered the Montreal Children’s Art Centre, which was affiliated with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.