Once a Politician, Always a Butt: Introduction to Editorial Cartooning

Movie clip on editorial cartoons and the caricaturing of politicians, from the second half of the 19th century to today. (Time: 2 min 44 s)

What’s the ideal subject for a cartoonist? A tricky political situation, a spicy story, a juicy scandal? A public figure who’s caught up in a shady deal … or smells of corruption? Or perhaps an inexperienced politician who falls on his or her face? Because, as everyone knows, cartoonists really love ridiculing politicians!

Ever irreverent, cartoonists underline the faults of public figures and are always ready to pounce on the slightest misstep. They expose, exaggerate and depict reality with humour and sarcasm. Gifted with soaring imaginations, cartoonists use any number of strategies to illustrate their points of view. They exaggerate the physical characteristics, ticks and gestures of important figures, often creating characters more real than the persons themselves! They sometimes place figures in a particular setting, like dressing them up as Ulysses or a character from Shakespeare. In addition to the symbols and visual elements that they use to reinforce their messages, cartoonists use titles, speech balloons and captions to convey their message. No detail is left to chance!

But why do cartoons make us smile, if not laugh out loud? Wielding sharp pens and minds, cartoonists create visual editorials that reflect news events. They present their view of the world, shaped by their own experience and culture and even their gender. Cartoonists make us think about social issues, provoke us and stir up controversy… Although some cartoons speak for themselves, usually it’s familiarity with the context that enables us to decipher and really appreciate a cartoon. That is why it’s not always easy to grasp the meaning of old cartoons. Just dig a little, read between the lines, pay attention to the details … and ask some questions!

McCord Museum
19th-20th Century
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


What’s the ideal subject for a cartoonist? A tricky political situation, a spicy story, a juicy scandal? A public figure who’s caught up in a shady deal … or smells of corruption? Or perhaps an inexperienced politician who falls on his or her face? Because, as everyone knows, cartoonists really love ridiculing politicians!

Ever irreverent, cartoonists underline the faults of public figures and are always ready to pounce on the slightest misstep. They expose, exaggerate and depict reality with humour and sarcasm. Gifted with soaring imaginations, cartoonists use any number of strategies to illustrate their points of view. They exaggerate the physical characteristics, ticks and gestures of important figures, often creating characters more real than the persons themselves! They sometimes place figures in a particular setting, like dressing them up as Ulysses or a character from Shakespeare. In addition to the symbols and visual elements that they use to reinforce their messages, cartoonists use titles, speech balloons and captions to convey their message. No detail is left to chance!

But why do cartoons make us smile, if not laugh out loud? Read More
What’s the ideal subject for a cartoonist? A tricky political situation, a spicy story, a juicy scandal? A public figure who’s caught up in a shady deal … or smells of corruption? Or perhaps an inexperienced politician who falls on his or her face? Because, as everyone knows, cartoonists really love ridiculing politicians!

Ever irreverent, cartoonists underline the faults of public figures and are always ready to pounce on the slightest misstep. They expose, exaggerate and depict reality with humour and sarcasm. Gifted with soaring imaginations, cartoonists use any number of strategies to illustrate their points of view. They exaggerate the physical characteristics, ticks and gestures of important figures, often creating characters more real than the persons themselves! They sometimes place figures in a particular setting, like dressing them up as Ulysses or a character from Shakespeare. In addition to the symbols and visual elements that they use to reinforce their messages, cartoonists use titles, speech balloons and captions to convey their message. No detail is left to chance!

But why do cartoons make us smile, if not laugh out loud? Wielding sharp pens and minds, cartoonists create visual editorials that reflect news events. They present their view of the world, shaped by their own experience and culture and even their gender. Cartoonists make us think about social issues, provoke us and stir up controversy… Although some cartoons speak for themselves, usually it’s familiarity with the context that enables us to decipher and really appreciate a cartoon. That is why it’s not always easy to grasp the meaning of old cartoons. Just dig a little, read between the lines, pay attention to the details … and ask some questions!

REFERENCES
Desbarats, Peter and Terry Mosher. The Hecklers. A History of Canadian Political Cartooning and a Cartoonists’ History of Canada. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, National Film Board of Canada, 1979.

Hou, Charles and Cynthia Hou. Great Canadian Political Cartoons. 1820-1914. Vancouver: Moody’s Lookout Press, 1997.

Hou, Charles and Cynthia Hou. The Art of Decoding Political Cartoons. A Teacher’s Guide. Vancouver: Moody’s Lookout Press, 1998.

Hustak, Allan and Don Monet. "Political Cartoons." The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0001442 ] (page consulted August 9, 2006).

Layng, Craig. "Cartoons and Comic Strips." The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0001441] (page consulted August 9, 2006).



© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.82: "A Case of Riel Distress !"

Cartoon on Métis leader Louis Riel, whose head had a price on it, and his election as a federal member of Parliament in 1873. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1873-10-25
M994X.5.273.82
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, October 25th, 1873 : "The murder of Thomas Scott, at Fort Garry, during the Red River Rebellion, naturally excited great indignation throughout the Dominion, and a universal demand was made for the apprehension and punishment of Louis Riel, the leader of the malcontents, at whose instigation the deed was committed. This righteous sentiment, however, ultimately resolved itself into mere political "claptrap," the Conservative Government, then in power, having secretly promised the rebels an amnesty, while publicly professing an anxious desire to "catch him."1

In 1869 the Métis in the Red River district led by Louis Riel began organizing to oppose the imminent annexation by Canada of the North-West Territories. They seized Fort Gary, a Hudson’s Bay trading post, in an attempt to force Canada to negotiate their rights. During their rebellion the Métis captured several Canadians and executed Thomas Scott (1842-1870), a particularly strident anti-Catholic who had tried to start a counter- Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, October 25th, 1873 :

  • "The murder of Thomas Scott, at Fort Garry, during the Red River Rebellion, naturally excited great indignation throughout the Dominion, and a universal demand was made for the apprehension and punishment of Louis Riel, the leader of the malcontents, at whose instigation the deed was committed. This righteous sentiment, however, ultimately resolved itself into mere political "claptrap," the Conservative Government, then in power, having secretly promised the rebels an amnesty, while publicly professing an anxious desire to "catch him."1

In 1869 the Métis in the Red River district led by Louis Riel began organizing to oppose the imminent annexation by Canada of the North-West Territories. They seized Fort Gary, a Hudson’s Bay trading post, in an attempt to force Canada to negotiate their rights. During their rebellion the Métis captured several Canadians and executed Thomas Scott (1842-1870), a particularly strident anti-Catholic who had tried to start a counter-rebellion among the region’s Scottish settlers. The assassination was authorized by Riel.

There were calls in Ontario for the execution of Riel in retaliation for the “murder” of Thomas Scott. In October 1873, when this cartoon appeared, Louis Riel was a highly controversial figure. The majority of Ontarians considered him a murderer, while Quebecers saw him as a hero trying to defend the Catholic faith and Francophone culture in Manitoba. This cartoon shows Louis Riel (1844-1885) at the time of his election in the riding of Provencher, during the federal by-election.

In the cartoon Riel is seen arriving, face covered, in Ottawa after his election. In fact, he did not take up his seat in Parliament at that time, no doubt because he feared arrest or assassination, and so he went into exile in the United States. Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), fearing a political confrontation between Quebec and Ontario, later urged Riel to remain in exile.

What
This cartoon by John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) appeared in the weekly magazine Grip. It shows Riel clutching a document on which is printed the word “Amnesty” (a pardon, especially for a political offence). At the time Riel was ardently hoping for precisely this.

Where
This imaginary scene takes place in Ottawa in 1873. In fact, Riel did not go to Ottawa until the following year, in February 1874, after his re-election.

When
John A. Macdonald, seen on the right in this cartoon, stepped down less than one month after the publication of this cartoon. Riel was elected while Canada was in the throes of the Pacific Scandal, during which Macdonald’s Conservative government was charged with corruption.

Who
In the background is the head of the Liberal Party and Leader of the Opposition, Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892), who is saying: “Mearcy, But I’d like fine to arrest them both.” Riel is represented as faceless (there was a price on his head) and Macdonald has his back to Riel, as if he doesn’t see him.

REFERENCES

Bumsted, J. M. “Thomas Scott,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line]
[http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0007231] (page consulted 24 April 2007).

Brown, Craig (Ed.). The Illustrated History of Canada. Rev. ed. Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2002.

Lewis, Thomas H. “Riel, Louis,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [on-line]
[ http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=39918&query=Riel] (page consulted 24 April 2007).

Rea, J. E. “Scott, Thomas,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [on-line]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=38817&query=Scott] (page consulted 24 April 2007).

Stanley, George F.G. “Riel, Louis,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line]
[http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006837] (page consulted 24 April 2007).

“First Among Equals,” “Sir John A. Macdonald,” Library and Archives Canada [on-line]
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/primeministers/h4-3031-e.html] (page consulted 24 April 2007).

“Louis Riel,” “The Northwest Resistance,” University of Saskatchewan Libraries and the University Archives [on-line]
[http://library2.usask.ca/northwest/background/riel.htm] (page consulted 24 April 2007).

“Riel, Louis,” Canada in the Making [on-line] [http://www.canadiana.org/citm/reference/biographies_e.html#R] (page consulted 24 April 2007).

“The Riel Rebellions,” Canada in the Making [on-line]
[ http://www.canadiana.org/citm/specifique/rielreb_e.html  ] (page consulted 24 April 2007).


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M984.306.408: "Aeneus after the Shipwreck"

Cartoon on the resignation of John A. Macdonald’s Conservative government in connection with the Pacific Scandal of 1873. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Henri Julien
1873-12-11
M984.306.408
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


The “shipwreck” referred to in this cartoon is the Conservative Party led by John A. Macdonald, who had just resigned after being accused of corruption. It was alleged that he had accepted a bribe from the wealthy entrepreneur Hugh Allan (1810-1882) during the elections of 1872, in exchange for being awarded the contract to build the railway that would link Eastern Canada to British Columbia.

Published in December 1873, the cartoon shows Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) dressed as Aeneas, one of the heroes of the Trojan War and the founding of Rome. Macdonald was linked to Aeneas because as Canada’s first prime minister he had noble status: he was seen as a leading pioneer and founder of the country.

Like many other mythological heroes Aeneas appeared in several Greek and Roman legends such as The Aeneid, by Virgil (70-19 B.C.). In that story Aeneas survives the sacking of Troy and sets sail in a ship with his companions. They sail for several years until a violent storm tosses them up on the coast of Africa, close to Carthage (in present-day Tunisia). The cartoonist borrowed this scene from a passage of the long epic, The Aeneid. Read More

The “shipwreck” referred to in this cartoon is the Conservative Party led by John A. Macdonald, who had just resigned after being accused of corruption. It was alleged that he had accepted a bribe from the wealthy entrepreneur Hugh Allan (1810-1882) during the elections of 1872, in exchange for being awarded the contract to build the railway that would link Eastern Canada to British Columbia.

Published in December 1873, the cartoon shows Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) dressed as Aeneas, one of the heroes of the Trojan War and the founding of Rome. Macdonald was linked to Aeneas because as Canada’s first prime minister he had noble status: he was seen as a leading pioneer and founder of the country.

Like many other mythological heroes Aeneas appeared in several Greek and Roman legends such as The Aeneid, by Virgil (70-19 B.C.). In that story Aeneas survives the sacking of Troy and sets sail in a ship with his companions. They sail for several years until a violent storm tosses them up on the coast of Africa, close to Carthage (in present-day Tunisia). The cartoonist borrowed this scene from a passage of the long epic, The Aeneid.

What
The cartoonist Henri Julien uses analogy here, that is, he makes a link between the situation of some government members and Aeneas’s mythological account. He shows public figures dressed as legionnaires.

Where
This cartoon was published on December 11, 1873, in the French-language weekly L’Opinion publique. It was also published on December 6 in The Canadian Illustrated News, the English-language version of the magazine.

When
The Pacific Scandal broke in July 1873, after the publication in newspapers of compromising letters and telegrams.

Who
John A. Macdonald is shown here surrounded by some members of his fallen government, including Hector Langevin (1826-1906), Charles Tupper (1821-1915) and Samuel Tilley (1818-1896).

REFERENCES

Johnson, J. K. “Macdonald, Sir John Alexander,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004867] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

Marsh, James H. “Sir John A. Macdonald,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=ArchivedFeatures&Params=A235] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

Suy, Dara. “Énée,” “Champ lexical. Mythologie grecque,” Laboratoire d’informatique avancée de Saint-Denis, Université Paris 8 [on-line] [http://www.ai.univ-paris8.fr/corpus/lurcat/dara/enee.htm] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

Waite, P. B. “Pacific Scandal,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006041] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

“Canadian Confederation,” “Sir John A. Macdonald,” Library and Archives Canada [on-line]
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-2360-e.html] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

“Canadian Confederation,” “The Pacific Scandal,” Library and Archives Canada [on-line]
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-3000-e.html] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

“First Among Equals,” “Sir John Alexander Macdonald,” Library and Archives Canada [on-line] [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/primeministers/h4-3025-e.html] (page consulted April 24, 2007). 
 
“La tempête - Les Troyens en péril (81-123),” “Énéide, Livre I
arrivée d’Énée à Carthage,” ”Biblioteca Classica Selecta”, Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) [on-line] [http://bcs.fltr.ucl.ac.be/virg/V01-001-222.html] (page consulted April 24, 2007).


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M988.182.152: "The speech from the Throne"

Cartoon on the Throne speech of Alexander Mackenzie’s Liberal government, delivered on February 8, 1877. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Henri Julien
1877-02-24
M988.182.152
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


On February 8, 1877, Governor General Frederick Temple Blackwood, Count of Dufferin (1826-1902), gave the Speech from the Thrown, thus inaugurating the new session of Parliament. The speech addressed the concerns, intentions and goals of the Liberal government then in power, headed by Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892).

According to an article in The Canadian Illustrated News, the speech covered a variety of topics, including the success of the new policy on the North-West Territories, the treaty negotiations with the First Nations in the North-West and the immanent creation of the Supreme Court. It also touched on the survey that would lay out the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the rebellions in the North-West Territories and the negotiations with the government of British Columbia on the construction of the railway.

In this cartoon the Speech from the Throne is represented as a long recipe about to be cooked up by Prime Minister Mackenzie. Opposition Leader John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) is criticizing the “dish,” comparing it to a worm, long, but lacking in “substance.” Mackenzie tells him not to worry, that the “dish Read More

On February 8, 1877, Governor General Frederick Temple Blackwood, Count of Dufferin (1826-1902), gave the Speech from the Thrown, thus inaugurating the new session of Parliament. The speech addressed the concerns, intentions and goals of the Liberal government then in power, headed by Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892).

According to an article in The Canadian Illustrated News, the speech covered a variety of topics, including the success of the new policy on the North-West Territories, the treaty negotiations with the First Nations in the North-West and the immanent creation of the Supreme Court. It also touched on the survey that would lay out the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the rebellions in the North-West Territories and the negotiations with the government of British Columbia on the construction of the railway.

In this cartoon the Speech from the Throne is represented as a long recipe about to be cooked up by Prime Minister Mackenzie. Opposition Leader John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) is criticizing the “dish,” comparing it to a worm, long, but lacking in “substance.” Mackenzie tells him not to worry, that the “dish” he’s preparing will go down as easily as a worm! The cartoonist is suggesting that Mackenzie is confident the House of Commons will vote in favour of the program outlined in the speech. The Speech from the Throne is always followed by a debate in the House that ends with a vote of confidence for or against the government.

What
This cartoon mocks the exchange by Macdonald and Mackenzie after the Speech from the Throne. Macdonald had claimed, in an ironic way, that the speech lacked “substance.” 

Where
The Speech from the Throne took place in the Senate chambers because the governor general and senators are not allowed in the House of Commons.

When
This cartoon was published in the weekly magazine The Canadian Illustrated News on February 24, 1877. This was four years after Macdonald’s government resigned over the Pacific Scandal and before he was re-elected in 1878.

Who
Alexander Mackenzie (on the right) was Canada’s second prime minister. He served from November 1873 to October 1878. In 1877, John A. Macdonald (on the left) was Leader of the Opposition for the Conservative Party.

REFERENCES

Johnson, J. K. and P. B. Waite. “Macdonald, John A.,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [on-line][http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40370&query=john%20AND%20a%20AND%20macdonald] (page consulted 20 April 2007).

“Blackwood (Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, Frederick Temple,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [on-line] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40683&query=blackwood] (page consulted 20 April 2007).

“Canadian Illustrated News,” Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec [on-line] [http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/cin/] (page consulted 20 April 2007).

“House of Commons Procedure and Practice,” House of Commons [on-line]
[http://www.parl.gc.ca/MarleauMontpetit/DocumentViewer.aspx?Sec=Ch01&Seq=2&Lang=E] (page consulted 20 April 2007).

“Mackenzie, Alexander,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [on-line] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=36643&query=alexander%20AND%20mackenzie] (page consulted 20 April 2007).

“Mackenzie, Alexander,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004936] (page consulted 20 April 2007).


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M982.530.5424: "Off for Home"

Cartoon of Alexander Galt, Canada’s new High Commissioner in London, as he prepares to depart for Great Britain, standing opposite Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Henri Julien
1879-12-13
M982.530.5424
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


In 1879 the Conservative government led by John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) adopted the National Policy, a series of protectionist measures like those in place in the United States. By this act, Canada defied Britain and its free-trade ideology, adopted in 1846 when Britain abolished its preferential tariffs. Also in 1879, Canada created the post of high commissioner in London. Alexander Galt (1817-1893), one of the Father’s of Confederation, was appointed to fill it.

This cartoon, published on the front page of the weekly The Canadian Illustrated News of December 13, 1879, shows Sir Alexander Galt about to leave Canada for Great Britain. He is standing beside Prime Minister John A. Macdonald.

The caption for the cartoon refers to the responsibilities of the new high commissioner, namely, to encourage the export of Canadian products to Great Britain as well as British immigration to Canada. He also had to try to find British financing for the construction of the transcontinental railway.

What
The wooden cases inscribed with the words butter, cheese, grains, cattle and sheep, agricultural machines and boots and shoes Read More

In 1879 the Conservative government led by John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) adopted the National Policy, a series of protectionist measures like those in place in the United States. By this act, Canada defied Britain and its free-trade ideology, adopted in 1846 when Britain abolished its preferential tariffs. Also in 1879, Canada created the post of high commissioner in London. Alexander Galt (1817-1893), one of the Father’s of Confederation, was appointed to fill it.

This cartoon, published on the front page of the weekly The Canadian Illustrated News of December 13, 1879, shows Sir Alexander Galt about to leave Canada for Great Britain. He is standing beside Prime Minister John A. Macdonald.

The caption for the cartoon refers to the responsibilities of the new high commissioner, namely, to encourage the export of Canadian products to Great Britain as well as British immigration to Canada. He also had to try to find British financing for the construction of the transcontinental railway.

What
The wooden cases inscribed with the words butter, cheese, grains, cattle and sheep, agricultural machines and boots and shoes reflect the types of products that Canada was exporting to Great Britain at the time.

Where
Alexander Galt had already travelled to France and Spain in early 1879 to negotiate trade agreements, as well as to Great Britain, in August, alongside Macdonald.

When
Sir Alexander Galt did not leave for his posting until a few months after this cartoon was published, that is, in April 1880.

Who
Macdonald had just been re-elected in 1878, mostly on the basis of his promise to adopt protectionist measures. Five years earlier, he had been forced to step down in the wake of the Pacific Scandal.

REFERENCES

Kesteman, Jean-Pierre. “Alexander Galt,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [on-line] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40234&query=Galt] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

“Canada and the World,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [on-line] [http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

“External Relations,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line] [ http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0002695] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

“National Policy,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line] [http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0005632] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

“Our Past: The History of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [on-line] [http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/United_Kingdom-en.asp] (page consulted  April 20, 2007).





© 2006, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M2001X.6.43.6.82: Big Laurier - Little Everybody Else

Cartoon of Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier as he prepares to leave Great Britain for Canada, in 1897, after taking part in the colonial conference and the festivities held to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Rostap
1897
M2001X.6.43.6.82
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


In 1897 Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919), prime minister of Canada, travelled to Great Britain for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, in celebration of her 60 years on the thrown. Laurier also planned to take part in the Colonial Conference along with the prime ministers of Britain’s 10 colonies.

Laurier was to be knighted during his stay in London. At first, out of respect for the tradition set by other Liberal prime ministers, Laurier did not wish to be knighted. Then, because everything had already been organized and so as not to seem arrogant, he accepted the knighthood. But it came with strings attached! Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914), British colonial secretary, dreamed of a united and strong empire. He tried to convince Canada to increase its support for Britain, especially related to its defence of the British Empire. Laurier was opposed, despite his great respect for Britain and its institutions; he hoped instead that Canada, Britain’s first Dominion, would be granted greater autonomy.

This cartoon, published in August 1897, shows Sir Wilfrid Laurier before his return to Canada, saluting Joseph Chamberlain, British Prime Minister Lor Read More

In 1897 Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919), prime minister of Canada, travelled to Great Britain for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, in celebration of her 60 years on the thrown. Laurier also planned to take part in the Colonial Conference along with the prime ministers of Britain’s 10 colonies.

Laurier was to be knighted during his stay in London. At first, out of respect for the tradition set by other Liberal prime ministers, Laurier did not wish to be knighted. Then, because everything had already been organized and so as not to seem arrogant, he accepted the knighthood. But it came with strings attached! Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914), British colonial secretary, dreamed of a united and strong empire. He tried to convince Canada to increase its support for Britain, especially related to its defence of the British Empire. Laurier was opposed, despite his great respect for Britain and its institutions; he hoped instead that Canada, Britain’s first Dominion, would be granted greater autonomy.

This cartoon, published in August 1897, shows Sir Wilfrid Laurier before his return to Canada, saluting Joseph Chamberlain, British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury (1830-1903), the Prince of Wales and “John Bull,” a fictional character representing Great Britain. Laurier’s large size is no doubt meant to convey his daring and determination in the face of the representatives of British power.

What
This cartoon depicts Wilfrid Laurier as he is about to return to Canada, saluting the Prince of Wales, Lord Salisbury and Joseph Chamberlain. John Bull, a character that represents Great Britain, stands behind them, holding Laurier’s suitcase.

Where
Laurier is shown standing on a dock in Great Britain. This was his first trip abroad.

When
In 1897 there were numerous events in celebration of Queen Victoria’s 60 years on the thrown, not only in Great Britain but also in the colonies, including the Dominion of Canada.

Who
At this time Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) was Canada’s prime minister. He was the first Francophone to occupy the position after Confederation (1867).

REFERENCES


Bélanger, Réal. “Laurier, Sir Wilfrid,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [on-line]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=41636&query=Wilfrid%20AND%20Laurier] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

Bélanger, Réal. “Laurier, Sir Wilfrid,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004558] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

Desbarats, Peter and Terry Mosher. The Hecklers. A History of Canadian Political Cartooning and a Cartoonists’ History of Canada. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, National Film Board of Canada, 1979, pp. 69, 249.

“Canada and the world,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [on-line]
[http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

“Chapter 1. A Semi-Autonomous Defence (1871-1898),” Canadian Military Heritage, Government of Canada, [on-line]
[http://www.cmhg.gc.ca/cmh/en/page_542.asp] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

“First Among Equals. The Prime Minister in Canadian Life and Politics”
Library and Archives Canada [on-line] [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/primeministers/h4-2229-e.html] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

“Salisbury, Chamberlain and the empire: AD 1897-1903,” History World [on-line] [http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/histories.asp?pid=nam&nid=ab07] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

“The Queen’s Golden Jubilee.” The Official Website of the British Monarchy [on-line]
[http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page929.asp] (page consulted April 20, 2007).




© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The activity on the learning object Once a Politician, Always a Butt ties into the Québec Education Program History and Citizenship Education in Secondary 3 and 4 (1st or 2nd year of Cycle Two). It is designed to introduce students to the interpretation of iconographic documents in the form of cartoons. Based on editorial cartoons from the period 1870 to 1890, it is connected to the social phenomena “The formation of the Canadian federation.”

The educational aim is “to enable students to exercise critical, ethical and aesthetic judgment with respect to the media,” and in particular to enhance their “awareness of the place and influence of the different media in his/her daily life and in society,” as well as their “understanding of media representations of reality.”

The targeted pedagogical outcomes are:

  • Competency 1: Examines social phenomena from a historical perspective.
  • Methodology: Interpretation of an iconographic document.
  • Social phenomena: The formation of the Canadian federation.
  • Cross-curricula competency 1: Uses information.
  • Cross-curricula competency 6: Uses information and communication technologies.

From:
Québec, ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport [MÉLS]. History and Citizenship Education, Quebec Education Program, Secondary Cycle Two, Validation Document, 2005.


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