Herbert Palmer was born in Toronto and studied under Frederick S. Challener and J.W. Beatty at Central Ontario School of Art and Design. He was a prolific painter and traveled widely in Canada to seek out his subjects but established his reputation as a painter of cattle and sheep in the familiar settings of the Ontario landscapes. He exhibited several times at the T. Eaton Company Fine Art Gallery (Toronto and Montreal). In 1910 he became a founding member of The Arts and Letters Club, Toronto. From 1926 to 1941 he was curator of the Fine Art Department of The Canadian National Exhibition.