Urquhart attended John Ross Robertson public school until the end of Grade seven, moving to Havergal College, a private school for girls, for grades eight to twelve. After that, she attended a junior college in B.C. for one semester before enrolling at the University of Guelph. In an interview, Urquhart recalls that very little of her childhood education touched on Canadian history or Canadian literature. "We were very much a colony when I was in...school, and so the past as I knew it survived in a physical sort of way. It existed in barns and rail fences and Ontario Gothic farmhouses, old woodstoves."  As a result, Urquhart developed a fascination with landscape which would carry throughout her entire collection of works. Following her semester in junior college, Urquhart went to the University of Guelph and earned a BA in 1971 in English literature. In 1973, she returned, this time to study art history, completing her second BA in 1976.
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