in 1909, at the age of fifteen, René Richard left his native Switzerland for Cold Lake, Alberta, a place his family saw as a land of freedom. Like many of his contemporaries, Richard's father dreamt of golden Canadian harvests and the fortunes they could bring, but soon came to realize that a farmer's life was not an easy one. Richard was forced to work the land with the rest of his brothers and sisters, but still found time to explore the Northern woods.
Still in his teenage years, Richard traveled through Northern Canada as a fur trapper, and began to collect landscape sketches. Richard soon established connections wtih native peoples, learning their survival techniques while capturing on paper their peacful, cummunal life.
In 1927, Richard used his earnings from the trapping trade ti finance a trip to Paris, with the thought of learning the painter's craft in mind. It was in Paris that Richard met his life-long friend and supporter, Quebec painter Clarence Gagnon. Back in Canada, Richard settled in Baie St. Paul, Quebec, and began dedicating most of his time to painting.
Richard sketched the Canadian wilderness with a determined passion until his death in 1982.