Edwy Cooke studied at the Ontario College of Art under Charles Comfort, Yvonne McKague Housser, John Alfsen, Eric Aldwinkle and Grace Coombs. He was a friend of Harold Town and often studied with him.
He was a member of the Hart House Sketch Club and studied there under Caven Atkins. He also befriended Carl Shaeffer at this time.
He attended a large show of American paintings at the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1948 (Commissioned by Standard Oil). Charles Burchfield influenced his industrial paintings. Burchfield’s “Black Iron” (1935) compares to “Abandoned Kiln”.
He became friends with classmates Ron Bloore, Charles McFadden and Nick Keleman at U of T. From 1947-48, Ron Bloor studied in New York and send 3” x 4” photos to Cooke to paint from. In 1948, he travelled to New York to paint with Bloore. He saw a show at the Guggenheim and was influenced by Rudolph Bower and late Kandinsky paintings. While in New York, he also met Rolph Scarlett
In 1949, he won a graduate scholarship to the University of Iowa (he was friends with Roloff Beny who had won same scholarship earlier). While there, he studied under international artists Mauricio Lasansky, Jim Lechay and Gene Ludins. He also became interested in the work of Paul Nash (AGO and NGC purchases)
He returned to Toronto in 1951 and began to teach at Central Tech, Saturday Morning Children’s Classes at the AGT, and U of T. He taught at the Artist’s Workshop with (friends as well) William Winter, Jock MacDonald and Barbara Wells.
He became Curator of Hart House “Lee Collection” in 1953. He liked Jackson, Comfort and Brooker’s work and helped the Hart House Art Committee buy Harris’ Isolation Peak in 1946.
In 1958 he was awarded a Canada Council grant to travel to Europe (England, France, Italy)
In the mid-1950s, OSA CSPWC and CCP exhibitions were limited at the AGT, so he moved to London and then Windsor.
In 1959 he took a hiatus from painting and moved to New Brunswick, where he served as Curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery until 1964 and also taught at the University of New Brunswick.
In 1964 he moved to Montreal and taught at Sir George Williams University. He resumed painting in 1974 after a trip to England and multiple trips to the New England states. He painted from photos he took in Maine (Portland, Rockland LIGHT AT CAPE ELIZABETH). Edward Hopper, George Bellows and John Marin also painted in the area.