Harold Pfeiffer earned a degree from the École des beaux-arts de Montréal in the early 1920s. He continued his training at the École du Louvre in Paris, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and at the New School of Decoration in New York. In 1925, he met Marius Barbeau, who would become his friend and mentor. After the First World War, during which he was in charge of testing bombs, he returned to making bronze sculptures. His reputation very quickly spread throughout Canada and his works were exhibited in Great Britain, former Yugoslavia and South Africa. His many trips to the North, particularly to Yukon, Alaska and Greenland, inspired numerous three-dimensional portraits of Native peoples that serve as genuine traces of regional history. He sculpted his famous bust of Bishop Desmond Tutu during a stay in South Africa. Shortly after his death, his memoirs, entitled The Man Who Makes Heads with His Hands, were published in Ottawa.