Roland Wilkie was born in Montreal, Quebec. His life was marked by the trauma of his little sister’s death, life in foster homes, a childhood of physical and sexual abuse, and complete lack of education. Violence, prostitution, and drugs dominated his teenage years.
Wilkie was ultimately confined to a psychiatric hospital, with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. At the suggestion of his psychiatrist who encouraged him to draw whatever preoccupied him, Wilkie’s art-making became an obsession and he spent 15 – 18 hours a day drawing and painting. He denied he was creating art since he knew nothing about art, nor was he an artist.