Walter J. Phillips was born in Lincolnshire, England, and immigrated to Canada in 1913 at the age of 29, after spending considerable time studying abroad in South Africa and Paris. Today, he is considered one of the most accomplished watercolourist artists Canada has ever produced. In 1941, he became resident artist at the Banff School of Fine Arts, and played a vital role in the development of that institution's visual arts program.
Phillips' career spanned from the early 1900s through the late 1950s, when the increasing frailty of his eyesight caused him to stop painting. Phillips' work has been widely exhibited throughout North American and Great Britain. His topics ranged from the Canadian prairies to the Rocky Mountains