J.W. Beatty was among the innovative Toronto artists who traveled to Northern Ontario to sketch via canoe. Starting in 1912 he went on regular sketching trips with Tom Thomson, J.E.H. MacDonald and A.Y. Jackson. He was offered a studio in the famed Studio Building, in Toronto’s Rosedale Valley Ravine. He and A.Y. Jackson were both awarded a commission by the Canadian Northern Railway to paint in and around the construction camps as the railway was laid through the rocky mountains. Beatty carved the stonework for the memorial cairn erected to his friend, Tom Thomson at Canoe Lake. He was appointed an official war artist this same year. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, the Ontario Society of Artists, and served as president of the Arts and Letters Club. His works are in the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Collection, Hart House at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University Art Centre, the Canadian War Museum and elsewhere.