Jackson McDade began his life in the passenger seats of sedans and the cabs of campers, constantly moving during the heyday of the back-to-the-land movement. The McDade family lived between various rural communes throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico before they eventually settled in Ontario’s Ottawa Valley. It was in the Vallery, near a town called Killaloe that McDade grew up and was educated through a system of alternative schools influenced by the Scottish/English Educator A. S. Neill. Within this system, McDade studied under the future best-selling historical novelist Sandra Gulland. McDade did his secondary education at S.E.E.D in Toronto where he studied alongside best-selling Science Fiction writer Cory Doctorow and Post-Rock god(speed) Efrim Menuck.
McDade studied his post-secondary education at the Ontario College of Art and Design where he majored in Environmental Design, thus providing the architectural basis of some of his subsequent pursuits. Even before his graduation, McDade began showing his work and involving himself in the contemporary art scene around Toronto’s downtown district. Within a few years McDade had helped found The Money House Foundation, a monthly exhibition project, which met with considerable response from both the national and local press. Programming at the Money House typically featured curated/ad-hoc shows, hosted in the eponymous two-story working-class house, which would then be packed to the rafters with everyone plus a DJ. This venue proved to be an early testing ground for the work of Euro-Electro Sex-Princess Peaches, as well as, a founding platform for Canada’s well-promoted Instant Coffee.
Upon moving to New York, McDade was involved in the founding of the Eh-Team collective. Since 2004, The Eh-Team have presented numerous, audience participatory performances and installations, often with an architectural and/or scientific perspective and featuring a rotating collaboration of artists, performers and ideas. As a side project of the Eh-Team McDade independently established a Williamsburg art gallery called HQ, named for the co-ed frat/commune in Brooklyn where he was living at the time and which he shared with future Twilight teen idol Chaske Spencer. The HQ gallery operated between 2007 and 2009 as a commercial gallery with a focus on installations, sculpture with a healthy schedule of performances throughout its two-year run. In many ways, HQ was administered on the model of a Canadian artist-run space, and in the end, proved to be the location of many New York and international artists first solo shows.