Pat McGuire was born and raise in Skidegate, Queen Charlotte Islands, where his uncle, Joe Tulip, taught him about Haida art and culture. A descendant of artist Charles Galdstone, McGuire began painting and drawing at an early age, and took up carving totem poles and making jewelry from argillite as a young man. His distinctive carving style was marked by clean, sweeping lines, especially evident in his primary crests, the Eagle and the Whale. McGuire eventually moved to Vancouver, quickly forming an unofficial school of argillite carving, where he taught artists such as Alfred Collins, Ronald Russ, Doug Wilson, and Pat and Denny Dixon. McGuire passed away of an accidental drug overdose in 1970.