Shirley MacKenzie


I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1959, but lived and schooled most of my life in Montreal and Ottawa. I studied Arts Plastique in Montreal, earning a diploma in Visual Arts. I had the great privilege of working under established Canadian artists such as Gerald Roach, Raymond Brown, Frieda Baine, Andrew Dukowicz and Ira Yarborough (Ottawa). 

 My second diploma, in Museum Studies took me through

 many of Ottawa's museums on contract, commission and for five

 years as both artist and curator with the Rideau Valley Conservation

 Authority. The idea that I could work as an artist designing and

 drawing pieces that produce a scene for viewers to imagine

 this shared history was very appealing. I was so fortunate to have the

 opportunity to learn how to operate a turn of the century grist mill,

 as well as research, design and install exhibits to Silverside's Tool

​ Museum.

I clocked many trips to the RVCA’s Wildlife Reserve in Perth working a small log cabin into a turn of the century tool museum ~  Silverside's Tool Museum opened its doors in 1988 and was perched in one of the most beautiful settings in rural Ontario. It attracted visitors from far and wide who came for the opportunity to witness a Harness/Saddle Maker’s Shop, a Cooper’s corner, Blacksmith’s Shop, Carpenter’s Bench, and Logging Exhibit. The museum was sadly forced to close its doors in 1991 due to budget restraints.  

Studio development became my next focus, continuing on with art exhibitions, both group and solo, and later invited by St. Catherine School in Metcalfe to design a program and teach Visual Arts to children, grades one through to six. This became such a popular class for the children that I opened my studio to teaching privately on weekends.

Today, I live and work in Ottawa, maintaining a very busy studio, working on special exhibits, commissions, contracts, book cover design and illustration.