Marc-Aurèle Fortin was born in 1888 in Ste-Rose, Quebec. He studied art in Montreal. He worked at the Montreal Post Office and at an Edmonton bank. He studied art abroad. He was known for painting watercolour landscapes of the St. Lawrence Valley. He travelled around the St. Lawrence Valley by bicycle. Fortin believed that "Canadian artists should take their inspiration from the countryside and progress towards a national art... We should excel in landscapes, exactly as the French do".
He was part of the first Atelier exhibition at Henry Morgan Galleries in April 1932 together with Atelier founder John Goodwin Lyman, André Biéler, and Edwin Holgate. Fortin was exhibited by Galerie L'Art français from the 1940s.
His works are displayed at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts He died in 1970.
On 22 May 1981 Canada Post issued 'Marc-Aurèle Fortin' designed by Pierre Fontaine in the Canadian Art series. The stamps are based on a painting "À la Baie Saint-Paul" (1937), by Marc-Aurèle Fortin in the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec, Quebec. The 17¢ stamps are perforated 12.5 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Limited.
The electoral district Marc-Aurèle-Fortin is named in his honour. He was designated a National Historic Person by the federal environment minister, on advice of the national Historic Sites and Monuments Board.