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October 7, 2013

Roy Peterson, 1936-2013

imageRoy Peterson, a giant of Canadian editorial cartooning who won more National Newspaper Awards than any other journalist in more than 40 years with the Vancouver Sun, died September 30 after an incident the evening preceding in his West Vancouver home. He was 77 years old.

Peterson was born Roy Eric Peterson in 1936 in either Winnipeg (his wikipedia entry and initial obituaries) or Vancouver (at least one of the Vancouver Sun profiles). He was a prolific artist as a child and student, following in the footsteps of three brothers, all of whom drew. Two of those brothers died in World War 2. Peterson graduated from secondary school in the Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver.

In addition to his long run at the Sun, Peterson published in a variety of publications including Time and MacLean's. He settled in at the Vancouver Sun in 1962, and wouldn't leave the paper until 2009. During that time he won seven National Newspaper Awards (the family claims eight). He was known for both the authority of his caricatures and his general bravery in working with unpopular subject matter.

Peterson's books widely published. His best-known work is likely Drawn And Quartered, a series of cartoons done during the career of Pierre Trudeau. Another cartoon-driven collection was The World According To Roy Peterson. Additionally, Peterson did an alphabet book with a Canadian culture focus. Peterson was also in demand to play a more traditional illustration role, at time working in partnership with the Sun writer Alan Fotheringham, with whom he worked on assignments from MacLean's in a partnership that lasted nearly three decades. Peterson's illustrations in Stanley Burke's 1973 effort Frog Fables and Beaver Tales helped that book sell a quarter-million copies. A sequel, The Day Of The Glorious Revolution, came out the next year but did not perform as well.

Peterson received the Order Of Canada in 2004, was the founding president of the Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonista and according to the Sun was the only Canadian to be president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

The cause of death was complications due to Parkinson's Disease. He had earlier been treated for prostate cancer, and suffered poor eyesight at the end of his career. It was apparently not his choice to leave the Sun, yet another paper hit during that period by the desperate need for cutbacks.

A raft of Canadian cartoonists shared their personal memories of Peterson here. He is remembered by his friend Bob Krieger here.

Peterson is survived by two sons, three daughters and nine grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret.

A celebration of Peterson's life is planned for October 11.
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

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