Originally from Nova Scotia, in 1987 Shawn went to McGill University to study with James Thompson, celebrated principal trumpet of the Montreal Symphony. After completing his studies Shawn moved on to Toronto to do the Orchestral Training Program at the Royal Conservatory. After spending a year in Toronto Shawn continued his studies at Yale University where he received his masters. The next year was spent filling positions in the Thunder Bay Symphony and the Calgary based Foothills Brass Quintet.
Toronto ultimately drew Shawn back and he worked as a freelance musician for the next four years playing with all the major southern Ontario orchestras. In 1999 Shawn was appointed principal trumpet of Orchestra London Canada.
Shawn has also been active as a teacher. He was trumpet instructor at the Canadian Forces School of Music from 1991-1998 and taught privately in Toronto and London for several years. He currently teaches at the University of Western Ontario.