Barbara Roe Hicklin was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1918. She attended the Central Technical School in Toronto, where one of her teachers was the Canadian painter Carl Schaefer, and also the Ontario College of Art and Design. She later moved to New York where she worked as a commercial artist. In New York, she studied at the Phoenix School of Design, graduating in 1946. Hicklin worked as a theatre set designer in Sarnia between 1951 and 1956 and later, during the seventies, toured the country in a van painting landscapes of the Canadian countryside. She lived in the Yukon for a time before moving to Alberta in 1984.
Barbara Hicklin most often worked with watercolours, but she also worked in acrylic and pen and ink. She travelled extensively throughout the country from British Columbia to Newfoundland, and made many trips North to the Yukon, occasionally travelling up the Dempster Highway as far as the Arctic Circle. In her travels, she would produce numerous small watercolours and photographs that would provide ideas for her large paintings, which she would work on in the studio. Regarding her method, she said “In my large paintings, I attempt to convey some of the unusual effects of light, colour, and space on the landscape. The colour patterns in my work provide visual movement, and help me to convey the atmospheric effects, which are so fascinating in nature.”
An important member of the Alberta Society of Artists, Barbara Roe Hicklin became the first woman President of the Society in 1975. Her paintings have been shown in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. Examples of her work can be found in the collections of, among others, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.