Fred Ross was born on May 12, 1927, to a working class family in Saint John, New Brunswick. By 1944, he elected to pursue his education at the Saint John Vocational School in the art program, a program which traditionally would have lead to the trade of commercial design.
While attending Saint John Vocational School, Fred Ross had the fortunate opportunity to study under Ted Campbell, who was to become both his teacher and mentor. Ross acknowledged that Campbell was tremendously able to stimulate his students to develop their own talents. Art historian John Leroux wrote his Master's thesis at Montreal's Concordia University on the subject of Fred Ross's murals and contributed to the Salon Supplement of the Saint John Telegraph-Journal on May 30, 2009: "Ross […] remembers [Ted Campbell] having a genuine esteem for both contemporary and historical muralists in his classes: 'Ted felt that the Mexican mural paintings were the greatest murals since the Renaissance so he was encouraging us to look at them.'" Ross claims that this set him on a course toward being an artist, perhaps a painter of murals, rather than toward the practice of commercial art.
Upon completion of two important murals, undertaken for a year and a half and completed in 1948, Ross won a traveling scholarship. He spent one month studying with Pablo O'Higgins, an American expat who had assisted Diego Rivera in some of his murals almost 20 years earlier. Ross, in Mexico on a subsequent trip in 1950, did briefly meet with Rivera and with the master's permission did some drawings of Rivera - drawings now in the collection of The National Gallery of Canada.
In 1949, Ross had his first solo exhibition at Mount Allison University. From 1953 through 1970, Ross held a full-time position at the Saint John Vocational School teaching in the Department of Fine Art. In 1954, Ross married English ballet dancer and dance instructor, Sheila Urquhart, who was his greatest love, his muse, model, sometimes manager and mother of their three children. The Beaverbrook Gallery in Fredericton purchased their first Fred Ross painting, entitled Sheila in Blue, in 1955. The timeline in the Telegraph Journal notes that in 1963 Ross was the youngest artist featured in Painting a Province, a National Film Board documentary about the work of five New Brunswick artists. The same year Ross's, Lorna on a Rocking Horse, is featured in the 5th Biennial of Canadian Painting at the Commonwealth Institute in London.
Over the span of his career, Ross exhibited in more than 80 group and solo exhibitions, several at Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, where he has been represented since 1969. He was one of the artists featured in Paul Duval's book, High Realism in Canada, published in 1974.
At the age of 82, Ross found himself temporarily confined to a wheelchair because of a fall, and alone, that is to say without the love of his life, Sheila, who passed away 11 years prior. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of New Brunswick, received membership of the Order of Canada and then the Order of New Brunswick. His greatest joy continued to be painting. His convalescence was a temporary obstacle. He regularly escaped from the nursing home, which he referred to as "Hotel California," and went to his studio where he would be surrounded by his props and books and his important works in progress. (Source: Interview with Kate Wallace, Saint John Telegraph Journal, Saturday May 30, 2009. Pg. Salon 6)
Fred Ross Solo Exhibitions
1949 - Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB.
1950 - New Brunswick Museum, Saint John.
1956 - Greenwich Gallery, Toronto.
1956 - Art Centre, University of New Brunswick.
1956 - Memorial University of Newfoundland.
1967 - Morrison Art Gallery, Saint John.
1969 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1970 - Mount Allison University.
1971 - New Brunswick Museum, Saint John.
1971 - Art Centre, University of New Brunswick.
1971 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1971 - Cassel Gallery, Fredericton, NB.
1971 - Restigouche Art Gallery, Campbellton.
1972 - Zwicker's Gallery, Halifax.
1973 - Galerie Dresdnere, Toronto.
1974 - Cassel Gallery, Fredericton.
1975 - Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, NB.
1975 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1975 - Gallery One, Moncton, NB.
1976 - Galerie Dresdnere, Toronto.
1977 - University of New Brunswick, Fredericton.
1977 - Manuge Galleries, Halifax.
1978 - Wallack Galleries, Ottawa.
1979 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1979 - Ring Gallery, Saint John, NB.
1981 - Galerie Dresdnere, Toronto.
1982 - Wallack Galleries, Ottawa.
1983 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1984 - Ring Gallery, Saint John, NB.
1986 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1987 - Ring Gallery, Saint John, NB.
1988 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1990 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1994 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
1997 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal
1953 - National Gallery Annual Exhibition, Ottawa.
2001 - Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal.
Fred Ross in Group Exhibitions
1955 - Five New Brunswick Painters,Toronto Art Gallery.
1956 - New York City Centre Art Gallery.
1957 - Royal Canadian Academy. Also in 1958, 1961 and 1970.
1959 - London Public Library and Art Museum, London, Ontario.
1959 - National Gallery Annual Exhibition, Ottawa.
1959 - Winnipeg Art Gallery.
1961 - Six East Coast Painters, organized and circulated by the National Gallery.
1961 - Dalhousie University, Halifax.
1963 - The Commonwealth Institute, London, England.
1964 - London Public Library and Art Museum.
1964 - Stratford Shakespearean Festival, Stratford, Ontario.
1965 - Montreal Museum 8th Annual Exhibition.
1965 - University of New Brunswick, Fredericton.
1965 - Dorothy Cameron Gallery, Toronto.
1966 - National Gallery, Prints and Drawings Exhibition, Ottawa.
1967 - Roberts Gallery, Toronto.
1967 - Atlantic Pavilion and V.I.P. Lounge, Montreal Exposition.
1968 - Montreal Museum Survey Exhibition.
1968 - Dalhousie University, Halifax.
1972 - Galerie Dresdnere, Toronto.
1973 - University of New Brunswick Summer Show.
1975 - Wallace S. Bird Memorial Exhibition, Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
1975 - Manuge Galleries, Halifax.
1976 - Olympic Exhibition organized by Province of New Brunswick.
1976 - Atlantic Coast - An Illustrated Journal, organized by the National Gallery, Ottawa.
1963-83 - National Council of Jewish Women, Ottawa.
1962-72 - Art Gallery of Hamilton Winter Exhibition.
1955, 1961, 1963 - Canadian Biennale, organized by the National Gallery.
1977 - Fifty Canadian Drawings, organized by the National Museums of Canada and the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation.
1977 - Ars Sacra, organized by St. Mary's University Art Gallery, Halifax.
1978 - 1st Canadian Biennale of Prints and Drawings, Calgary.
1978 - Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour.
1979 - Art Gallery of Windsor, Annual Exhibition.
1982 - Art Gallery of Windsor, Annual Exhibition.
1984 - Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton.