Harold Kerr Eby was born to Canadian Methodist missionaries in Tokyo, Japan, on October 19, 1889. At the age of three his family moved to Vancouver, B.C. and by the time he was twelve, he had lived in Vancouver, Kingston, Toronto and Bracebridge.
He worked as a “printer’s devil” on the Bracebridge paper, and at fifteen he took his savings and moved to New York with the dream of becoming an artist. He enrolled in art classes at Pratt Institute while working for a lithographic firm earning $4.00 a week. His pay barely covered his room and drawing supplies. Within a year, life became desperate for the young artist. Starving and feeling defeated, he left in the spring for home in Canada and was employed by a surveying party in Northern Ontario. While in this northern wilderness, Eby regained his dream of becoming an artist, and in his spare time he started to draw his surroundings.
By fall he had saved enough money to return to New York. He attended night classes at the Art Students League while working for another lithographic firm. He spent several more summers surveying in Northern Ontario before he was able to make a living as an illustrator.
Drawings of his World War I experiences launched his career. He spent most of WWI on the front line camouflaging the big guns. During his spare time, he would sketch everything from the big guns to the dead soldiers in the field. He sent these drawings home each week. Upon his return from the war, these drawings became his inspiration for his first successful group of etchings. By the mid-1920’s, many galleries exhibited his work, but Frederick Keppel had the exclusive on many of his new prints.