Sherman Charles Swift was born in 1873, in Petrolia, Ontario and lost his sight as a young boy in a gunpowder explosion. Swift attended the Ontario school for the Blind in Brantford and earned an Honours BA from McGill University in 1907, majoring in modern languages.
Swift was appointed Librarian of the Free Library for the Blind in 1911. He earned his master's degree at the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto. Swift spoke seven languages fluently and in 1908 became the first qualified person to apply for a teaching certificate. Sherman Swift was refused the certificate that time, but was granted the certificate 15 years later. He was the author of many unpublished poems and co-author of The Voyages of Jacques Cartier in Prose and Verse (1934). As a founder of CNIB, he was described as being a force to be reckoned with.