Christmas covers from Canada’s iconic painters and cartoonists

Holiday scenes from A.J. Casson, Oscar Cahén, Peter Whalley and more


Maclean’s has always held two prevailing interests: a preoccupation with all things Canadian, and a focus on timely stories at the heart of ongoing national conversations. Along with our best journalism, the Maclean’s Archive holds a trove of art, editorial cartoons, and poignant illustrations that capture the mood of the Canadian identity.

In this gallery of seasonal covers, you’ll find the works of Group of Seven member A.J. Casson, as well as Oscar Cahén, best known as a member of Painters Eleven and for his 15 years as an illustrator of Canadian magazines. There’s also art by Rex Woods, one of Canada’s most successful and sought-after illustrators of the 1930s. Woods contributed on a regular basis to Maclean’s. (Not so widely known is his monumental group portrait of the Fathers of Confederation. The original Robert Harris painting was destroyed in the 1916 fire on Parliament Hill. Woods’s replica hangs in Parliament today.)

To paint a picture of Montreal by night for a 1957 cover of Maclean’s, Canadian cartoonist Duncan MacPherson climbed Mount Royal, ascended the CBC radio tower (thought better of it, and shakily descended), and then summited the city’s new general hospital. MacPherson was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1988, and was instrumental in winning editorial autonomy for his profession.

With his appealing cartoony style and arch political streak, Peter Whalley may be the most iconoclastic and prolific cartoonist Canada has ever produced. A trained artist, Whalley plied his trade as a magazine illustrator before he hit his stride in the 1950s and 1960s, skewering national icons like the Group of Seven and Pierre Trudeau.

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