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.
CREATED AMID WORLD WAR
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.
CAPTAIN CANUCK COIN
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.