.....SOLD.....Huge Sid Barron comics collection, scrapbooks, book and signed letter from Sid Baron himself
Sid Barron: 1917 - 2005
A typical Barron editorial cartoon included a scene that, at second glance, offered a
cornucopia of visual puns, as well as such detritus as a cat holding a sign, or a biplane
towing a banner. These often included the two catchphrases that came to be associated with the artist --
"Mild, isn't it?" and "Aren't the mountains pretty today?"
He poked fun at local foibles for the Victoria Times and The Albertan of Calgary. As well, his
cartoons appeared in the Toronto Star for more than a quarter century. He often took as his
subject the residents of the vast suburban expanses surrounding downtown. He renamed
Don Mills, where he had once made his home, as Dawn Mills, a quiet yet pretentious place
where residents could not help but brag about the "exceptional quality" of their curbside
His cartoons favoured gentle wit over biting satire. He did not usually take as his subject
breaking news, or hapless politicians whose mistakes generated headlines. Instead, he
found humour in the annoyances of everyday life. The critic Robert Fulford called him "the
poet of the mundane."
The slice-of-life setting, the overheard dialogue, and the absurdity of the situation are
typical of events in what came to be called Barronland. He described the setting of his
cartoons as Anyplace, Canada. Mr. Barron shared the Star's editorial page with Duncan Macpherson, a brilliant caricaturist
whose wit was as wicked as Mr. Barron's was dry. Mr. Macpherson skewered politicians with sometimes devastating results.
It is said the reputation of former prime minister John Diefenbaker never recovered from
his portrayal as a rabbit-toothed Marie Antoinette, which reduced a statesman to a figure of
The pair gave the Star an enviable tag team, although not all readers were enamoured of
Mr. Barron. One letter writer complained his works were "neither humorous nor meaningful
but just nauseating." He had his defenders, too. "Macpherson's cartoons make us laugh at
our leaders," another wrote, "but Barron's make us laugh at ourselves."
Mr. Barron was hired as a cartoonist in 1958 by Victoria Times publisher Stuart Keate, who
was eager for his afternoon daily to surpass the circulation of the morning rival, the
Colonist. His works of gentle social commentary were entirely appropriate for the sleepy
provincial capital. Three years later, Mr. Barron began selling cartoons to the Star.
In 1962, Mr. Barron moved to Calgary to work for The Albertan, all the while continuing with
the Star as a client. Few of his Toronto readers knew his cartoons were drawn from so far away. The humorist
Gary Lautens described the circumstance for Star readers in 1964. "Barron claims he is
allergic to Toronto and every time he tries to live here (twice to date) he breaks out in
airplane tickets and heads back for the foothills," he wrote.
He quit drawing cartoons in 1989, retiring to Coombs on Vancouver Island. He and his artist
wife painted, Mr. Barron indulging his passion for watercolour seascapes.
Several collections of his works were published over the years, including Barron's Victoria
(1959), 2nd Annual Barron's Victoria (1960), Barron's Toronto (1965), Barron's Calgary
Cartoons (1967), Barron Book (With Puddytat Centrefold) (1972), and The Best of Barron
(1985). He also illustrated the Eric Nicol humour book, A Scar is Born (1968).
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria held an exhibition of his works in 1973. Barron cartoons
that once hung in the stairway home of B.C. Premier W.A.C. Bennett are part of a travelling
exhibit from the Kelowna Museum. The cartoons, also including works by Mr. Peterson, are
currently on display at the Courtenay and District Museum on Vancouver Island.
The largest collection of his originals was gathered by the former National Archives in
Ottawa, now Library and Archives Canada, which has 1,344 drawings. The Glenbow Museum
in Calgary owns 70 originals published in The Albertan.
Sid Barron was born on June 13, 1917, in Toronto. He died on April 29 at Mount St. Mary
Hospital in Victoria. He was 88. He leaves his third wife, Jessamine, known as Jesi; her
daughter, Susan Barron, and son David Connor; a daughter, Lisa Murray, from his first
marriage; a son, Steven Barron, and a daughter, Catherine McLeod, from his second
marriage; and, a sister, Florence Hartman. He also leaves eight grandchildren.
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