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ARCHIVED - Canadian Confederation

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Cartoons and Caricatures

Grand Visions

Confederation and political cartoons have at least one thing in common: they both express a grand vision. However, the grand vision at work in political cartoons is usually a product of satire, a technique that uses exaggeration to ridicule a subject. Caricatures of the Fathers of Confederation often depict heroic figures in order to imply the opposite qualities. Yet as J. W. Bengough demonstrates, a cartoonist might recognize the limitations of his own grand vision, and present himself as a satirical subject.

Caricature, THE MANY-COUNSELLED ULYSSES

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"The Many-Counselled Ulysses"

This caricature from April 1873 depicts Sir John A. Macdonald as the legendary hero, Ulysses.

Caricature, CONFEDERATION! THE MUCH-FATHERED YOUNGSTER

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"Confederation! The much-fathered youngster"

Left to right: George Brown, Sir Francis Hincks, William McDougall, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Caricature, RENEWING THE LEASE

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"Renewing the Lease"

In this cartoon from September 1878, Bengough predicts that Macdonald will be rejected by Canada in the general election.

Caricature, O, OUR PROPHETIC SOUL

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"O, Our Prophetic Soul!"

When Macdonald won the 1878 election, Bengough caricatured himself. Macdonald is shown holding Bengough's cartoon "Renewing the Lease."

Caricature, THE COMING ATTRACTION!

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"The Coming Attraction!"

In this 1879 cartoon, Bengough depicts politics as theatre, with Macdonald performing roles -- including several villains -- from Shakespearean tragedy.

Caricature, SIR CHARLES TUPPER ET LE PARLEMENT

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"Sir Charles Tupper et le parlement"

This caricature of Sir Charles Tupper from February 1896 depicts Liberal anxiety, Conservative wishful thinking and Tupper's self-regard.

Caricature, SEE THE MIGHTY HOSTS ADVANCING

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"See the mighty hosts advancing."

On September 1st, 1905, the Saskatchewan Act and the Alberta Act were adopted by the Canadian government and two new provinces joined Canada.

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