“All my best ideas ended up in John Bassett’s wastepaper basket.” The Hecklers: 228.

Beaton was born in Vancouver in 1923. He took secretarial and business studies which led to several jobs as an office manager. He served overseas with the R.C.A.F. during World War 2. After his discharge, he attended the British Columbia School of Art. After graduating he wandered around Mexico with a sketchbook until faced with the reality of making a living. He ended up working for a construction company in Kitimat B.C.. He was office manager and edited the camp newspaper and drew “grisly characters on the project”. These were seen by an editor at the Vancouver Province. Len Norris had become extremely popular in the competing Vancouver Sun and the Province countered by hiring Beaton in 1953.

Shortly after starting at the Province Beaton began including a mouse in his cartoons. The habit began when Al befriended a little mouse which had been chased into his “cartooning cubby hole” on his first day of work. “I barred the female attacker from further entry. I took the stand that the rodent had sought my office in safety and safety it would get.” [3] “I included him in my cartoon that day as a sort of symbol of the weak little man. The idea sort of stuck and soon after, readers were looking for their daily mouse as much as for their daily cartoon.” [3]

Finding working conditions at the Province extremely restrictive, he joined the Toronto Telegram on May 27 1961. However, Beaton found the Tely just as difficult to work for under the strict control of John Bassett. He was required to produce five rough ideas daily and six editorial-page cartoons a week. In addition, he was competing against Duncan Macpherson at the Toronto Star, by then the most popular cartoonist in the country.

In 1965, he won $500 in the International Salon of Cartoons in Montreal for a cartoon dealing with the handling of the Gerda Munsinger scandal by then Justice Minister Guy Favreau.

He created Ookpik a comic strip that ran for nineteen months in more than 50 Canadian and U.S. dailies. He had to discontinue it in 1966 when doctors told him he must cut back on his work. See OOKPIK.

Beaton died of a heart attack on a trip in Algonquin Park in Ontario at age 44 on August 24, 1967.




Cartoon editorial & strip:

The World of Allan Beaton, no publisher, n.d.


Book text:

The Hecklers. Writ. & Ed.., Peter Desbarates & Terry Mosher. McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1979: 228.


Book graphic:

“Introduction.” The World of Allan Beaton, no publisher, no date


“The Telegram’s cartoonist Al Beaton dies on trip.” Toronto Telegram, 24 August 1967:3.