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 such as 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, “Captain Canuck” personifies 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.
1995 JOHNNY CANUCK STAMP
On Oct. 2, 1995, Canada Post commemorated Johnny Canuck alongside four other comic book superheroes in a five-stamp set (Scott #1579-83). Johnny Canuck is depicted as he appeared in the comic books: he’s dressed in a flight jacket with goggles, leather headgear and boots. The 45-cent stamp (SC #1580) was printed by Ashton Potter and designed by Louis Fishauf based on Bachle’s drawings.