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Born in Preston Ontario, Doris Shadbolt pursued and enjoyed a life-long interest in the arts, having studied Fine Arts at the University of Toronto before beginning her career as a research assistant at the Gallery of Ontario (1942-1943), the National Gallery of Canada (1943-1945) and the Metropolitan Museum in New York (1948-1949). In 1950 Shadbolt was employed by the Vancouver Art Gallery, where for over twenty-five years she was educator, curator, and Associate Director. Through her activities and exhibitions, she had a major impact on the formation of a West Coast identity founded on Emily Carr and First Nations work. Exhibitions of note staged durng her tenure at the Vancouver Art Gallery include Arts of the Raven (1967), Sculpture of the Inuit (1969), and Emily Carr: A Centennial Exhibition (1971).