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From The Globe and Mail’s Brian Gable to the Montreal Gazette’s Terry Mosher, these artists have critiqued and celebrated Canada for decades – and now you can put their work on your postage

Editorial cartoonists earn a living by mocking important national institutions, but now five of them get to be part of one of Canada’s biggest: The postal service. This week, Canada Post unveiled special stamps honouring veteran cartoonists whose work has “enlightened and entertained us, contributed to national debate, and brought attention to unfairness and injustice.” Here’s what the stamps look like, with some context on the artists and the issues they chose to draw.

Images courtesy of Canada Post • Art by Bruce MacKinnon, Brian Gable, Duncan Macpherson, Serge Chapleau and Terry Mosher

Brian Gable

About the artist: Born in Saskatoon, Mr. Gable, 72, got his start cartooning for the University of Saskatchewan’s student newspaper, the Sheaf. After a few years as a high-school teacher in Brockville, Ont. (where he still drew freelance for a local paper), he returned to full-time cartooning at the Regina Leader-Post in 1980. He’s been with The Globe and Mail since 1987, earning national kudos for his witty style: When he became a Member the Order of Canada in 2018, the citation said his work “embodies our national sense of humour, namely our ability to laugh at ourselves and our institutions.”

About the art: Mr. Gable’s trademark beavers represent “the little guy,” he told Canada Post. This beer-drinking beaver in a Muskoka chair represents Canada’s spirit of “being friendly and open to their neighbours across the nation.”

Serge Chapleau

About the artist: The youngest of seven children in a working-class Montreal household, Mr. Chapleau says he got inspired by the Franco-Belgian comics scene of the 1960s and 70s. His first published work was in Perspectives magazine in 1972 and he’d work for various Quebec newspapers before settling in as La Presse’s editorial cartoonist in 1996. In the 1980s, he broke into television with the character Gérard D. Laflaque, a middle-aged vulgarian brought to life through puppetry and animation. Mr. Chapleau is a Member of the Order of Canada.

About the art: Days before Quebec’s sovereignty referendum, more than 150,000 people came to a rally in Montreal on Oct. 27, 1995, encouraging Quebeckers to vote No and stay in Canada. This cartoon imagines the aftermath: One shirt reads “We love you” in English; another says “Not tonight, I have a headache!” in French.

Bruce MacKinnon

About the artist: Mr. MacKinnon was still in high school when he started cartooning for local papers in Antigonish, N.S., where he grew up. He balanced editorial cartooning with an assortment of university studies and other jobs before joining the Halifax Chronicle-Herald’s full-time staff in 1986. Today, he’s the editorial cartoonist for the Chronicle-Herald and its related SaltWire network of papers. He is a member of the Order of Canada and Order of Nova Scotia.

About the art: On April 6, 2018, the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team was headed for a playoff game in rural Saskatchewan when a tractor-trailer hit their bus, killing 16 of the 29 people on board. Tributes soon spread across Canada and the hockey world: Mr. MacKinnon tried to capture that spirit by showing Canadian provinces as players holding up a wounded Saskatchewan. Moments of national grief like that are a hard test for cartoonists, Mr. MacKinnon told Canada Post: “You have to make a statement that somehow gets to the heart of that issue in a subtle, nuanced way.”

Duncan Macpherson

About the artist: When he came to the Toronto Star in 1958, Mr. Macpherson – an air force veteran who built his cartooning credentials at the Montreal Standard and Maclean’s – was the first Canadian cartoonist to have an agent negotiate his salary, a practice others soon followed. It was the first of several steps he would take to improve the status and editorial independence of cartoonists; in 1988, he would be the first one inducted into the Order of Canada. He retired from the Star in 1993 just weeks before his death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 68.

About the art: This cartoon from 1970 asks whether U.S. interests, depicted as a sinister cat, are hungrier for a Canadian goldfish or the water (representing energy) that’s keeping it alive. U.S. energy policy, and Canada’s role in it, was a hot topic in a decade when Americans struggled with growing demand and unstable supplies of fuel and electricity.

Terry Mosher

About the artist: Known under the pen name Aislin since 1967, Mr. Mosher, 78, has been at the Montreal Gazette for nearly 50 years. Born in Ottawa, his dual insight into French and English Canada’s cultures helped him to lampoon some of the pivotal moments of Quebec’s political history. He’s produced more than 14,000 cartoons over his career and written or contributed to more than 50 books. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

About the art: This cartoon is from one of Mr. Mosher’s first assignments for The Gazette: 1972′s Summit Series, the historic hockey showdown between Canada and the USSR. The Gazette sent him to Moscow – accredited as a photographer, to avoid the Soviet authorities’ potential suspicion of a political cartoonist – where he sketched fans, police and players.

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