He was born in Toronto, Ontario, on September 20. 1924. Duncan Macpherson began sketching as a youth. While in the Royal Canadian Air Force in England during World War II, he started art training. On release from service in 1946. he enrolled at Boston Museum School of Art, and on graduation in 1948 he took a two-year course at Ontario College of Art. Macpherson then freelanced for about ten years. I his work appeared in a variety of publications ranging from the Christian Science Monitor to Eaton’s mail order catalogues. He illustrated several series in tho Montreal Standard and Maclean’s.
In 1958 Macpherson Joined the Toronto Star on the urging of editor Pierre Berton. From there his cartoons have been printed in numerous other Canadian papers and over a hundred different newspapers around the world. Since 1959 he has won the National Newspaper Award six times. His work has also been honored with a 1966 Royal Canadian Academy Medal for distinguished work in the visual arts and the 1971 Molson Prize from the Canada Council for contributing to the arts in Canada. Yearly collections of his editorial cartoons have been published since 1961. He has illustrated several books, including one of his own titled Macphcrson’s Canada.
Macpherson is almost universally recognized as the foremost editorial cartoonist in Canada. His illustrative skills are given a large space at the top of the Star’s editorial page. In preparation for drawing, Мacpherson makes extensive research use of tho library and fills his cartoons with props and costumes when needed. Маnу times his knowledge of magic tricks and circuses has been put to use in his cartoons. His detailed drawings have been exhibited in various places, from art galleries to university campuses. Edmund Wilson, writing in the New Yorker, compared Macpherson to James Cillray and stated that his cartoons “may be fascinating quite independently of our interest or knowledge of the happenings they commemorate. Macpherson is a Gillray reduced in scale, a more scaring and grotesque Lewis Carroll.
With his artwork. Macpherson provides a remarkable commentary on events and individuals. His cartoons reveal weakness and flaws in ways almost everyone can understand and appreciate. His typical Canadian is a tattered, chinless fellow who is usually in some pathetic and humorous situation. John Diefenbaker, prime minister when Macpherson started at the Star, said, “He is a great cartoonist with an infinite capacity to get to the heart of things. I like a cartoon that is devastating without wounding.”
Macpherson isn’t known deeply by many of his colleagues. He has been seen both as a rough character and as compassionate beyond measure. He is about six feet two and weighs about two hundred thirty pounds. One friend characterizes him as a combination of Mary Poppins. Mark Twain and Attila the Hun.
the World Encyclopedia of Cartoons 1981