About this Virtual Exhibition

About the Virtual Exhibition Where to Draw the Line? Editorial Cartoons in Quebec, 1950-2000 (1)

Welcome to a space where controversy rules! But watch your step! Every click of the mouse can trigger wild laughter or push you into deep thought

This exhibition was designed with two major purposes in mind: to make the McCord Museum’s magnificent collection of editorial cartoons accessible to the public and to facilitate appreciation of these works of art by recalling the details of the political, social and cultural events that inspired the cartoonists. To understand and fully appreciate a cartoon, you need to be able to decode its symbols, analyse the devices it uses and know something about the context in which it was drawn. If history is a series of events that can be interpreted in different ways depending on one’s cultural background, this exhibition pursues the dual objective of taking a second look at certain moments in history from the perspective of editorial cartoonists while providing an opportunity to compare different views on an event or specific issue. Rather than offer up answers, the exhibition seeks to provoke thought and provide a forum for dialogue.

Focussing on events that took place in Québec, the rest of Canada or around the world between 1950 and 2000, the exhibition is made up of several different sections. At its core is the “ANGLO AND FRANCO PERSPECTIVES” section, which turns the spotlight on 50 events, people and issues that made headlines in Montreal’s French and English newspapers. With the help of a team headed by Université de Sherbrooke political scientist Jean-Herman Guay, we have paired cartoons that address the same topic, but were drawn by cartoonists from Québec’s two main language groups, French and English. To put the subjects into context, we have associated each cartoon with a newspaper article, in most cases an editorial published around the same time in The Gazette, Le Devoir or La Presse (or the now defunct Montréal-Matin), through partnership with those three dailies. The articles are also accessible in the “NEWSPAPER ARCHIVES” section.

Most of the cartoons selected to form the 50 Anglo-Franco pairs have been taken from the McCord Museum’s collection, more specifically from the drawings by John Collins, Normand Hudon, Aislin (Terry Mosher), Serge Chapleau, Garnotte (Michel Garneau) and Éric Godin. To allow more in-depth treatment of key events like the introduction of Bill 101 or the referendum on sovereignty-association, cartoons by Berthio (Roland Berthiaume) and Jean-Marc Phaneuf have also been borrowed for the exhibition from the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Ten other sections invite visitors to discover different facets of the cartoon collection in a variety of ways.

The “Cartoon Explorer” offers a novel way to delve into a segment of the collection: in a web of keywords, every word leads to one or more cartoons, each funnier than the last. You won’t know what to think, given that there are over 2,000 interlinked cartoons to explore!

In “SEARCHING THE COLLECTION,” you can view over 20,000 cartoons, drawn by some fifty artists between 1759 and 2005, on the McCord Museum Web site. Designed and implemented in partnership with UQÀM’s Laboratoire d’histoire et de patrimoine de Montréal, “THE ART OF CARTOONING” provides background information on various aspects of an editorial cartoonist’s work, past and present, in Québec, through five interpretative essays. Created with the assistance of professors and students in the master’s program in applied history at UQÀM, the “TOPICS TO EXPLORE” section brings together cartoons on a dozen or so hot topics in contemporary Québec history, including the Quiet Revolution, the language crisis and the independence movement.

The “FOR TEACHERS” section proposes five lesson plans based on this exhibition, for secondary Cycle 2 in Québec. The plans were drawn up with the assistance of the Service national du RÉCIT pour le domaine de l’univers social, the Leading English Education and Resource Network (LEARN) and McGill University’s Centre for Educational Leadership, and with advice from Université Laval’s Groupe de recherche sur l’éducation à la citoyenneté et l’enseignement de l’histoire (GRECEH).

In the “VOTING RESULTS” section, check out the favourite targets of visitors on the exhibition’s English and French pages. The votes collected have been compiled separately, so you can compare the scores! Please note that these results are totally unscientific, because you can vote as often as you like.

In “TAG! KEYWORD MATCHING,” describe images using your own keywords and help us improve the McCord Museum's search engine. To score, you and your partner must write the same words.

In “TODAY’S CARTOONS,” see the cartoons published in today’s edition of the newspapers that have partnered with us in this exhibition. And get to know two of the artists behind the cartoons by watching video interviews in the “INTERVIEWS WITH THE ARTISTS” section.

In the "YOUR TWO CENTS” section, it’s your turn! Whether you’re a budding cartoonist or an emerging editorialist, this page is for you. Inspired by the subjects covered in the exhibition? Express yourself!

Enjoy your visit!


(1) The McCord Museum of Canadian History would like to thank the Department of Canadian Heritage for its financial support in the development of the virtual exhibition Where to Draw the Line? Editorial Cartoons in Quebec, 1950-2000, an on-line presentation of the Virtual Museum of Canada. We also wish to thank our partners, including Idéeclic. The complete list of partners and collaborators is given in the credits.