Duncan Macpherson

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Duncan Macpherson
Needhams Inferno jacket.jpg
Jacket of best-selling Needham's Inferno (Macmillan of Canada, 1966), winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. Illustration by Duncan Macpherson.
BornDuncan Ian Macpherson
(1924-09-20)September 20, 1924
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedMay 3, 1993(1993-05-03) (aged 68)
Beaverton, Ontario, Canada

Duncan Ian Macpherson, CM (September 20, 1924 in Toronto – May 3, 1993 in Beaverton, Ontario) was a Canadian editorial cartoonist. He drew for the Montreal Standard (starting 1948) and for Maclean's he illustrated the writings of Gregory Clark and Robert Thomas Allen. He is most famous for his work with the Toronto Star; from 1958 until 1993.[citation needed]


In 1941 Macpherson dropped out of high school at age of 17 to join the Royal Canadian Air Force and serve in World War II. While stationed in England, he began taking art classes, and also studied the cartoons of British cartoonist David Low.[citation needed] He left the army in 1946.

In 1947 with the death of his father he briefly took over the family textile business. In 1948 studied at the school of Boston Museum of Fine Art and also in that year he began working for Montreal Standard. In 1950 he continued his course of study at the Ontario College of Art.[1]

In 1958 he joined the Toronto Star.

In 1965 he exhibited his work at the Art Gallery of Toronto (later named the Art Gallery of Ontario).

In 1980 he retired from the Toronto Star for the first time. On April 25, 1993 Macpherson retired from the Star, and died eight days later.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Macpherson "was also an alcoholic who struggled with many personal demons."[3]


Duncan Macpherson was well known for his ruthless style. Terry Mosher refers to him as the "king of the third wave." One of Macpherson's most celebrated cartoons featured John Diefenbaker as Marie Antoinette saying "Let them eat cake," after Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow project and its 14,000 jobs. Pierre Berton said this cartoon was "the beginning, I think, of the country's disillusionment with the Diefenbaker government...scarcely anybody had taken a crack at Diefenbaker until then."[4]


He won the National Newspaper Award for Editorial Cartooning in 1959, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1970, 1972.

In 2018, Duncan Macpherson was inducted posthumously into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame, as part of the 2018 Doug Wright Awards for Canadian Cartooning. [5]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ "Macpherson, Duncan Ian". Canadian Encyclopedia. 1993-04-25. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  2. ^ "Tributes to Duncan Macpherson". Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  3. ^ Bado (2020-05-18). "Bado's blog: Professional Heckler: The Life and Art of Duncan Macpherson". Bado's blog. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  4. ^ Alex Mlynek (June 1999). "Off With Their Heads!". Ryerson Review of Journalism. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  5. ^ "Montreal's Aislin honours legendary Star cartoonist Duncan Macpherson, 25 years after his death". thestar.com. 2018-05-12. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  6. ^ "Molson Prizes Cumulative list of Winners". Canada Council. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  7. ^ "The National Newspaper Award for Editorial Cartooning". Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  8. ^ Order of Canada citation