Born in London, England, Brooks arrived in Canada in 1912. Primarily self-taught, he did study at the Ontario College of Art and taught at the Central Technical School. He became an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1939. He joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in May 1943. During his posting as a war artist (August 1944 – May 1946), he painted the movements of an aircraft carrier in the waters of Scotland and the activities of mine sweepers and motor torpedo boats in the English channel off Normandy.
After the war, he obtained a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to study art in Mexico. He taught for several years in San Miguel de Allende, north of Mexico City.
Brooks has published a number of works on watercolour and oil painting techniques. He turned 100 on November 7, 2011. He died 20 November 2011 in San Miguel de Allende.