While going through the newspapers, I came across a number of interesting local cartoonists. For the most part, however, cartoons came from outside sources and were copied or bought from syndicators, whether it was political affairs or ordinary human foibles being caricatured. The older newspapers were pretty dull visually and it was a real treat to come across these line drawings at a time when photos were badly reproduced and rarely included in local news stories.
This syndicated cartoon reminds me of my high school days in the 1960s when skirts were even shorter and no one attempting to be cool wore a hat– many blocks walk in -40 degrees– I was very cool, imagining I lived almost anywhere else. Girls weren’t allowed to wear slacks to school until after I graduated. Only tights, youthful hubris and long hair saved me from major frostbite.
As enjoyable and universal as these cartoons are, it is the ones with Saskatchewan subject matter that really caught my eye. Here is how the Morning Leader’s cartoonist John McNaughton tackled the ever-consuming subject of Saskatchewan weather extremes in 1914.
The earliest example I have found of a resident cartoonist was a fellow whose alter-ego was Kaleido. There is proof that Kaleido was in Saskatoon from the spring of 1903 to the fall of 1905 and I have seen a reference to him in 1908 when the Regina Leader reported that Kaleido, one of the publishers of “The Exorcist,” had issued his usual hand-drawn Christmas cards to his friends there. I tried ‘googling’ Kaleido and came up with nothing. However, I knew he was connected with Saskatoon and eventually ran across a Nov. 3, 1903 ad in the Saskatoon Phoenix for Kaleido advertising, a concern run by a Harry Willsmer.
When I ‘googled’ Harry Willsmer Kaleido, I found that the Saskatchewan Archives in Regina has some material on him which includes a brief biography (he is the right guy) and dates (1864-1950). http://sain.scaa.sk.ca/collections/index.php/harry-willsmer-fonds-2;rad. I have recently found a retirement notice for Harry Willsmer with photo in the Leader Post, although there is no mention there of him being a caricaturist there.
The Sask Archives has possession of the advertising card referred to in this 1903 Phoenix ad. I’d love to see that. Here is an example of his work for the Saskatoon newspaper. He only made a few cartoons for them.
I was quite curious about Kaleido because I possess a photocopy of an original drawing he made. He was in business in Saskatoon as a liquor dealer when he drew a caricature of my great, great grandfather Edwin Cox Clarke, who was then a local merchant tailor, for a series called Saskatoon Celebrities in 1904. I don’t think this cartoon ever got published in the Phoenix so the original must have been obtained from the artist, who probably did some print copy ads for my ancestor. E.C. Clarke, referred to as “Saskatoon’s tailor” in the 1903 Phoenix , left the tailoring business behind when Saskatoon was flooded with tailors in 1905 and became an ordained Anglican minister in 1907. But a comparison between the 1904 cartoon and this later photo shows that Kaleido made a pretty good likeness of the old English gentleman. I also like that I learned something of my ancestor’s personality from this caricature beyond what the cassock might indicate. And now I know who made the original, a fellow pioneer Saskatoon businessman who spent most of his life working for the civil service in Regina. And they say switching professions is a modern phenomenon!
Fred Steiger, better known as a commercial and later fine artist in Saskatoon (see his biography in Some Early Saskatchewan Men Artists), was described as the Star-Phoenix’s staff cartoonist in a Feb. 2, 1926 illustration but it doesn’t seem that he was with them very long. I only could find his work in two newspapers but then many issues from that period are missing in the digitized microfilm. D. Moody made a few cartoons for the the same newspaper in the 1940s. However, the Star-Phoenix doesn’t seem to have employed a cartoonist for any length of time until the 1950s when Ed Sebestyen (b. 1930) became the cartoonist of record. Sebestyen was active in the Saskatoon arts community in the 1940s and his cartoons for the Star Phoenix show him to be quite a talent. The cartoons provide a running history of life and happenings in 1950s & 60s Saskatoon and beyond.
The Regina Leader initially employed engraver Harry Prizeman to create some cartoons for the newspaper about the same time that Kaleido was working in Saskatoon, c. 1905.
Prizeman didn’t seem to last long in that function either and a few others were tried out occasionally, notably Fergus Kyle, a Toronto cartoonist.
But in 1912 the Leader obtained the services of a real artist to make cartoons and illustrations for the newspaper. Unfortunately, with only his name to go on, John McNaughton has remained a cipher to me. Without access to a Henderson Directory of Regina and my being unable to find him in the 1911 Canadian census, I have no idea who he was or where he came from. John McNaughton worked for the Leader for 2 years and seems to have left the newspaper as soon as World War I began, never to return. Reeling through those microfilm pages when McNaughton was employed by the Leader was a particular pleasure for me twenty plus years ago because I could anticipate a drawing by him almost every day. You will notice that I have used his cartoons whenever I could in this blog because they reflect a Saskatchewan experience.
I hope someone can find out more about McNaughton’s identity because he was the best artist that the Regina Leader had on its staff until the Leader Post hired Ron Spickett in 1946 for a while and then Brian Gable in the early 1980s. Ron Spickett, born in 1926, is most well known as a Calgary painter but he grew up in Regina and one of his early jobs was drawing occasional cartoons for the newspaper for a couple of months. Most people do not know that the current Globe and Mail cartoonist Brian Gable got his start at the Leader-Post in the early 1980s shortly after graduating from the University of Saskatchewan’s art department. Like the later cartoonists, Spickett and Gable, McNaughton’s work is stunning and so evocative of his time. It includes caricatures of Canadian and Saskatchewan life and politics in News of the Week strips on Saturdays (1913) and wonderful illustrations in an occasional series he called Canadian Scenes and Sentiments. Examples. Feb. 8, 1913, Mar. 1, 1913, Mar. 13, 1913, Apr. 5, 1913.
One of his most impressive efforts was the cartoon he made for the Jan. 1, 1914 (scroll right to next page) issue of the Morning Leader which chronicled events of interest over the past year as frames of a motion picture. Motion pictures were being made in Regina that year by a local photographer (E.C. Rossie) so film making was on everyone’s radar.
There were many John McNaughtons who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and I haven’t got enough information to identify him in the list of those, either, but I assume he must have joined the war effort, given the timing of his exit from Regina. Here’s his last cartoon for the Leader.
McNaughton’s replacement at the Leader was a character known as Noax. After much searching based on a hunch that his name might be Noakes, I discovered that his real name was William Noakes (b. England, 1871). Noax also worked as both a cartoonist and an illustrator at the Regina Leader for a prolonged period, from 1914 to 1919. While Noax was a good cartoonist, he had to work at a time when few things were funny. I don’t see him as being in the same artistic category as McNaughton. His first image as staff cartoonist actually makes reference to his intimidatingly talented predecessor, who went on vacation for a month.
Noax features in the only story I found published in the newspaper about a cartoonist, which also happens to explain this cartoon which appeared on the front page of the same newspaper.
He seems to have got a little more ink than his predecessor, (see my post on the World Wars and Saskatchewan art for more) although the Leader-Post didn’t actually divulge his real name on its pages until the day he left.
Noax left the Morning Leader in September of 1919, after five years of cartooning intermittently (war years had few cartoons). eg. Dec. 1, 1917; June 4, 1918 His cartoons disappear for a while at the end of 1918 and then reappear In early 1919 as a weekly horizontal strip of individual cartoons that were arrayed across the bottom of the front page called “Weeklorama.” Some examples of this Saturday feature are: Mar. 1, 1919; July 5, 1919; Aug.2, 1919; Sep. 6, 1919
William Noakes left Regina for Winnipeg but he soon found a permanent place at the Brandon Sun where he worked for over 25 years, ending up as the senior editor. He and his wife Mabel had arrived in Canada in 1902 from England. In 1911 they can be found living in Ottawa with their three Canadian-born sons. William’s profession on that census was listed as editor so he must have had journalism training, as well as an aptitude for cartooning before he arrived in Regina. I cannot find him in the 1916 Census of the Prairie Provinces but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t there. He not only made cartoons but did a lot of illustrative work.
The Leader did not have another full-time cartoonist before 1950 but they did hire a fellow named Dalrymple to do a novel series on local celebrities from October to December,1930
Arch Dale was the staff cartoonist for the Winnipeg Free Press from 1927 to 1954. A Scot who had homesteaded in Saskatchewan, he began selling his cartoons to the Free Press and Grain Grower’s Guide before 1910. Eg. ) http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/GGG/1909/08/07/1/Ar00100.html
I consulted my copy of The Hecklers written by Peter Desbarats and Terry Mosher in 1979 to see if any of these cartoonists were mentioned in this history of Canadian political cartooning. Surprisingly, I did find mentions of several but the information often amounted to a listing of their names, so I only really got details about Arch Dale and Fergus Kyle from that source. Kaleido and Noax are mentioned in passing as being cartoonists in Saskatchewan, as are Syd H. Raine, active Saskatchewan 1908, and D. L. Rodgers, active in 1930. Although this latter fellow could be the mysterious Dalrymple, above, I haven’t seen any reference to either name in the newspapers I looked at. It seems that John McNaughton did not have a job in Canada after the war or his name would have surely shown up in this book. He may have died in World War I or moved to another country.
Based on what I found in The Hecklers, I did a search on Sydney H. Raine. I see that Sydney was in the 1906 Census of the Prairie Provinces living in Regina, listed as an engineer. His date of entry to Canada was 1904. He is also in the online Saskatchewan Resident’s Index which notes that he is in the 1911 Henderson’s Directory of Regina. I don’t have access to find out what his profession was listed as there. Further looking came up with this: Sydney Hume Raine was born in Crook, Durham, England on Jul 6, 1885 and he emigrated from Canada to the U.S.A. in 1913. He signed a World War I draft card when he was living in Butte, Montana and he was still working as a mining engineer there in 1930. He lived with his wife Pearl. Since Syd worked as a draughtsman for a mining company in 1901 in his English home town, it is likely that he was skilled with a pencil and could draw cartoons by the time he left for Canada. The mystery remains: where did his cartoons appear?
Although I found examples of women working as newspaper editors and even a print machine operator in small-town Saskatchewan, I didn’t find any female cartoonists working for them. However, I must point out the single cartoon I found in the Regina Leader-Post by Margaret Messer. Messer was an art teacher at Balfour Technical School in Regina in the 1940s and decades later became a prominent person in the Saskatchewan Society for Education through Art. This depiction of herself as an over-burdened art teacher, albeit single and childless, reminds me of the good old days when I professed art history in Saskatoon. My home office still looks like that, as I scan through my library looking for Saskatchewan art history information to go with this blog, usually when the moon is full.
Ernest Lindner, art teacher at the Saskatoon Technical Collegiate, proved that he might have made a good newspaper cartoonist when he sent at least one cartoon to the Star-Phoenix before 1950. His was in response to the Mayor’s proposal for the design of a new City Hall in Saskatoon, which must have made many architects and artists in Saskatoon roll their eyes and sigh. Lindner, a member of the Canadian Painters Etchers and Engravers, also did some wonderful illustrations for the 1948 book by John McNaughton (not the cartoonist) Man Jungle-wise and Otherwise which the author self-published and had printed at Modern Press Ltd. in Saskatoon. This is p.81 of my copy of the book.
I cannot leave this brief discussion of cartooning without mentioning J.W. Bengough, an early Canadian cartoonist with a career based in Toronto. In 1892 Bengough left Grip magazine where he had worked for 20 years and embarked on a freelance career. He frequently crossed Canada on speaking tours where he would entertain the audience with quick sketches while lecturing. His chalk talks, as they were called, were very popular in Regina. I frequently saw ads for them in the Leader from 1889 to 1922. Bengough died in Toronto in 1923. Had he been born decades later he may have been a star designer for animated films. And speaking of that, here’s something related…
Saskatchewan’s connection to the Disney Studios
Many illustrators probably left the province in the early part of the 20th Century. There just wasn’t enough work for them in Saskatchewan. Most were born elsewhere but I have some information on a couple of Saskatchewan-born artists who left the province to find themselves working for the Walt Disney studios. These two were Erdmann Penner of Rosthern and Charles Ernest Lemery of Saskatoon. I haven’t found any proof of them being acquaintances but I would be surprised if they weren’t since they both attended art classes in Chicago and exhibited in Saskatoon about the same time.
Charles Lemery was born in Saskatoon on September 14, 1909, the son of pioneers Omer and Hattie Lemery. He first came to attention in Saskatoon after he had gone away to art school in Illinois and California and already obtained some commercial jobs, In 1930 he had a show of his portrait work at the Hudson’s Bay Co. Later, he worked, along with many other artists, on the drawing and painting of cels for Disney’s famous animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the 1930s. Lemery also taught painting at the Salem Art Center, an FAP works project in Oregon in 1938. Then he arrived back in Saskatoon in 1939 to visit his parents. Mar. 6, Mar. 10 & Mar. 21. While he was there, he received some publicity for another local art show and also some talks he gave on his career. He was in Saskatoon again in 1941 and gave a lecture at the Art Association. Unfortunately, his career was cut short when he died in Portland, Oregon in 1946, leaving a wife and two young children.
Erdmann Penner, the son of a long-time Rosthern doctor with the same name, was born in Rosthern in 1905. He attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon for a couple of years, likely taking a class from Gus Kenderdine while he was there, and then went to school in Chicago at the American Academy of Art and the Art Institute. He can be found in my list of exhibitors in Saskatchewan artist shows of 1930 and 1932 in Regina. Three of his paintings were exhibited in 1930 at a Saskatoon Art Association exhibition featuring paintings by members of the RCA, OSA and Group of Seven. He was then an art student in Chicago. He joined the Disney Studios in 1935 and you can find a summary of his later achievements as a storyman, screenwriter and associate producer for Disney on this Disney Archives Q & A website: https://d23.com/139601/. Penner died 10 November, 1956 in Los Angeles, California, pre-deceasing his elderly father.
This is from the Disney Q and A website
Q: I’m researching someone who was an important writer at Disney. His name was Erdman Penner. He was a Canadian who worked, as you know, on some of Disney’s best-loved films.
Greg, Vancouver, Canada
A: Erdman Patrick Heinrich Penner, the son of pioneer doctor Erdman Penner and his French wife, Blanche, was born in Rosthern, Saskatchewan on January 17, 1905. He attended the University of Saskatchewan for two years, then the American Academy of Art and the Art Institute in Chicago, and the American School for Writers in Hollywood. At the last one, he studied screenwriting. He joined Disney in May 1935 and remained until November 1956 as a storyman and story director. He received credit for story adaptation on Pinocchio, Victory Through Air Power, and Sleeping Beauty, and for story on Fantasia, Make Mine Music, Melody Time, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp, on which he was also listed as associate producer. He married Irene Gross in 1935 and passed away in 1956, at the age of 51.
©Lisa G. Henderson