Chief cartoonist for the Daily News [Toronto] for fifteen years, Newton McConnell was born in 1877 at Lakeside in Elgin County Ontario . He studied at the Ontario School of Art and Design graduating in 1900. Very unusual for cartoonists at that time, he made a living from his drawings almost immediately. His first cartoons appeared in Saturday Night. He then joined the Moon, a short-lived humour magazine which allowed its cartoonists considerable freedom. He drew the magazine’s first cover showing then prominent Toronto merchant Timothy Eaton with the publishers of Toronto’s five newspapers all bound to a sack of money labeled “for newspaper advertising”. Finally he came to rest at the Daily News and remained there for 26 years – 15 of them as editorial cartoonist. He was one of the most prominent and popular cartoonists of his period and one of the first to be syndicated on a regular basis in Britain and the U.S.
It was said of him: “All day long in his office he would have a procession of callers of all sorts and conditions, all calling him Newt … farmers, mining men, politicians, tramps, drunks, artistic vagrants… At half-past four, he would lean over his drawing board and begin to sketch. At five, he would carry down the finished cartoon. It was always accepted.” The Hecklers: 80.
His cartoons often depicted politicians in a farm setting surrounded by allegorical animal figures. He was also one of the first cartoonists to use a trade mark – a small dog named “Spot”- often as part of the cartoon. “Although his cartoons did not have the finesse of those of Julian and Hunter, he did have a lot more bite. Indeed he was credited at the time as being instrumental in the defeat of Laurier and his Reciprocity Treaty in 1912.
McConnell died in Toronto in 1940.
McConnell’s Vanity Fair: A Portfolio of Caricatures. Toronto: W.S. Johnston & Co. Ltd. 1912.
The Hecklers. Writ. & Ed.., Peter Desbarates & Terry Mosher. McClelland and Stewart Ltd.,1979: 80- 81, 244.
The Archivist, 20-2, !994: “Art and Commerce.” Writ., Kate O’Rouke:24-25.
Maclean’s Magazine, Mar. 1914: “The Cartoonmen of Canada.” Writ., John Edgecumbe Staley: 45.