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By Lindsay Fitzgerald for J-Source

Thirty years ago, when Susan Dewar began shopping around her editorial cartoons to Canadian publications, she suffered from one overriding disadvantage. While the Toronto Star deemed her “too liberal,” an editor at The Globe and Mail flat-out said: “we don’t want a female cartoonist.” The Toronto Sun initially published her work only on the condition that she use a pseudonym.

“The Sun wouldn’t print my cartoon if it had a woman’s name on it,” Dewar says, recalling how her first major cartoon was signed “John Browne.” It wasn’t until a few years later, in 1984, that Dewar secured a position and began working under her own name at the Calgary Sun; the paper was desperate for a political cartoonist after losing their lead man. Back then, Dewar was the only female editorial cartoonist employed by a major news publication in Canada. Today, as national editorial cartoonist for the Sun chain of newspapers, Dewar remains the lone female in a lineup of household names such as the Halifax Chronicle-Herald’s Bruce Mackinnon or the Montreal Gazette’s Terry Mosher, who draws under the name “Aislin.”  

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Lindsay Fitzgerald is a final-year bachelor of journalism student at Toronto’s Ryerson University, where she is currently research assistant to Ivor Shaprio, Chair of the Ryerson School of Journalism.