Robert Frederick (Fred) Down was born in 1921 in Brighton, Ontario. His early life was typical of most farm boys of that era, filled with chores, school, church and sports. Following graduation from Wooler High School, Down was accepted into the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. Afterwards, Down spent a year in Mexico at an artists' colony. During this time he completed wonderful scenes and landscapes of Mexican life. At the end of his year in Mexico, Down returned to the farm.