Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Not Applicable

Advisor Role

Not Applicable


John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) was Canada’s premier editorial cartoonist of the nineteenth century. Influenced by the artistic techniques and fame of American cartoonist Thomas Nast, Bengough began the publication in 1873 of Grip, a comic weekly that featured his own editorial cartoons. The journal achieved instant recognition and fame with a series of biting cartoons that put Sir John A. macdonald’s Conservatives on public trial during the Pacific Railway Scandal of 1873. Grip went on to enjoy a twenty year print run during which Bengough established a tradition for editorial cartooning in Canada. Grip’s popularity also launched Bengough upon a creative career of drawing, lecturing and writing that brought him international fame and the status of a social pundit. This thesis recounts the breadth of J.W. Bengough’s life and career. It delineates Grip’s position within the press of the late nineteenth century as a liberal reform journal and paints a picture of a Canadian media that, because of its highly moral and ideological parameters, enticed Bengough into a press career with the promise of a forum for his beliefs and art. A close look at the early series of Pacific Scandal Cartoons provides an examination of Bengough’s artistic talents and political maturity, along with confirming the basis for Bengough’s claim to immortality in the realm of Canadian editorial cartooning.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season