Margaret Shelton was born in 1915 in Bruce, Alberta, the daughter of British immigrants who had come separately to Canada and were married in Edmonton in 1913. Margaret and her family lived in various smaller Alberta communities, including Rosedale, where she attended school. She went to Normal school in Calgary in 1933-34 and took evening art courses at the Alberta Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (later the Alberta College of Art and Design). She enrolled there as a regular student under a full scholarship and studied under A.C. Leighton and H.G. Glyde, graduating in 1943. During her studies, she spent her summers painting and drawing, usually depicting old barns and mountain scenes, and in 1941 took a Japanese woodblock printing course from the British-born watercolourist and printmaker W.J. Phillips. She worked at a variety of jobs for a few years before committing herself full-time to making art.
Margaret Shelton became well-known for her delicately rendered watercolour depictions of the Alberta landscape and for her finely crafted lino and woodblock prints. She was an important influence on the development of printmaking in Canada and exhibited her work widely, including with the Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers and Engravers (CPE), the Canadian Society of Graphic Art (CSGA) and the Calgary Sketch Club. Her paintings and prints are represented in the collections of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the National Gallery in Ottawa, the Glenbow Museum in Calgary as well as many other private and public collections.