OTD: Canada bans import of comic books

On today’s date in 1940, the Government of Canada banned the import of comic books, paving the way for the development of home-grown war-time heroes like Johnny Canuck.

Rather than rely on U.S. imports to aid war efforts, a previous personification of Canadian culture was re-invented during the Second World War. The fictional lumberjack first appeared in political cartoons dating back to 1869, when he was portrayed as a younger cousin of Uncle Sam and John Bull, who were personifications of the U.S. and Britain, respectively.

A hero without superpowers, Johnny Canuck was strong, brave and passionate about Canada. More than a homegrown comic book hero, he personified the spirit of Canadians by embodying self-sacrifice, determination and integrity—all with a full dose of humility and compassion.


In 1941, John Ezrin, of the Canadian comic book publisher Bell Features, saw a young boy browsing through a comic book at a newsstand.

The boy, 16-year-old Leo Bachle, was critical of the artwork and drew an action scene on the spot.

Ezrin, who was impressed with the boy’s work, asked him to create a character by the following morning.

That night, Johnny Canuck – Canada’s second national superhero – was born.


In 2018, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a comic book-shaped $20 Fine silver coin commemorating Captain Canuck, another comic book superhero who first appeared in 1975.

Re-creating elements of Richard Comely’s cover art from Captain Canuck No. 1, the coin’s reverse focuses primarily on Captain Canuck, who strikes a defiant pose as he stands on rugged terrain, while the yellow sun hangs low in the northern sky. His maple leaf suit is based on the real-life colours of the large Canadian flag engraved behind him, which further emphasizes the character’s Canadian roots. The reverse includes the engraved word “CANADA” above a corner box element bearing the face value “20 DOLLARS.” The words “CAPTAIN CANUCK” and “CAPITAINE CANUCK” are engraved on either side of the hero while the year “2018” is engraved on the landmass below.

A laser-engraved maple leaf pattern fills the obverse, which features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.

Leave a Reply

Canadian Coin News


Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Coin News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier coin publication. Canadian Coin News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.