Ernest Luthi was born in Zeebach, Switzerland in 1906. He came with his family to homestead in Canada in 1914, settling near Punnichy, Saskatchewan. From the age of 15, he worked in farming, carpentry, house and sign painting, and on the railroad over the next twenty years to support his art practice. Though Luthi was mostly self-taught, he did take correspondence courses in illustration from the Washington School of Art in the 1920s, and night classes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, earning his diploma in 1928. In 1951, Luthi became a full-time artist.