Les Callan, circa 1940’s. The Maple Leaf Forever, 1987: 21
“Unlike some cartoonists, who were in the position of having ideas supplied to them, I always came up with my own. But for the life of me, I still don’t know where those thousands of ideas came from.” They just happen somewhere in the back of your mind” About editorial cartoons. The Hecklers: 231.
Born in 1905 in Ignace Ontario a village on the CPR line west of Thunder Bay. His father was the station agent.
While working for the CPR in the day, at nights he studied art through a correspondence course. In 1926 he studied for two years at the Chicago Academy of Art, working for Canadian Pacific Railway in the summer and attending classes in the winter. He then moved to Winnipeg where he did freelance work for the Winnipeg Free Press, until he got a job as a cartoonist with the Vancouver Sun. and remained there until 1937 when he went to work for the Toronto Star.
In 1942 He joined the Canadian Army artillery as a lieutenant, then moved to army public affairs in 1943 and began drawing cartoons for army’s newspaper The Maple Leaf Northwest Europe Edition 1944-1945. Under the title “Monty and Johnny” he drew events from the D-Day invasion through France Belgium and Holland to VE-Day, recording both what he saw and humourous stories related to him by Canadian soldiers along the way.
“I remember visiting a unit at rest that had been involved in a particularly difficult battle with many wounded and killed. After talking with the men I found that I had gleaned enough ideas for a week. As it happened I met the Colonel of that regiment some time later. As I started to salute he stopped me. ‘Never mind that Callan give me your hand. You did more for the morale of our outfit than anything I could think of and I want to thank you.’ It’s that kind of recollection that made the whole thing worthwhile.” The Maple Leaf Forever, 1987: 21.
After the war he returned to the Toronto Star as its editorial cartoonist. In a 14 May 1957 article it was said of him: “Throughout his career Callan has made it a rule to poke fun or criticism at a person’s policy but never to hurt the person himself.”
In 1961, Callan left the Star and Duncan Macpherson quoted in The Hecklers makes it clear it was not a happy departure. “They just pretended that he [Callan] didn’t exist any longer… after twenty-five years. That’s why I’ve never joined the staff of the paper to this day. It’s a pretty cold-blooded business.” 
After leaving the Star, Les did free lance work on children’s books and for other publications.
In 1963 he ran for the Ontario Legislature as a Liberal candidate for Scarborough North but was unsuccessful. He and his wife moved to Vancouver in 1973 There he died 30 September 1986.
BOOK GRAPHIC COLLECTION:
Content panel humorous & Cover book front:
Normandy and on. Longmans Green and Co., Oct.1945.
Content editorial cartoon:
Star Weekly Magazine, 5 July 1958: 47. Black & white.
Normandy and on, Oct. 1945 “Introduction.” Writ., Les Callan..
The Hecklers. Writ. & Ed.., Peter Desbarates & Terry Mosher. McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1979: 117, 148, 228.
The Maple Leaf Forever: The Story Of Canada’s Foremost Armed Forces Newspaper. Writ. & Ed., Barry D. Rowland & J. Douglas MacFarlane. Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc. 1987.
The Maple Leaf Scrapbook: Souvenir Book printed in Belgium at cost price to forces overseas, no editor, Belgique: No. 3 Canadian P.R. Group, no date: 12 -16.
“20 Years With Star, Les Callan Is Tonight’s Guest on Tabloid.” Toronto Star, 14 May 1957:29.
“Les Callan cartoons Troops In Normandy.” Toronto Star, 3 November 1945
“Les Callan Star cartoonist for 24 event-filled years.” Writ., Kevin Donovan. Toronto Star, 4 October 1986: A16.
The Maple Leaf Forvever, 1987: 39.