Memorable Manitobans: Donald McRitchie (1881-1948)
Born at Englishtown, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia on 2 June 1881, son of Donald and Catherine McRitchie, he moved with his mother and sister to Glace Bay after the death of his father. After graduating from high school, he worked in the offices of the Dominion Coal Company, subsequently being transferred to its office in Boston, Massachusetts. There he appears to have developed his talent for drawing. Returning to Cape Breton by the winter of 1904, he began producing cartoons for the Sydney Daily Post.
McRitchie continued to work as a cartoonist and illustrator until the 1930s, interrupted only by service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. By the spring of 1905, he was living in Ottawa and producing cartoons and illustrations for the Ottawa Journal. Moving west, he stopped briefly at Port Arthur, Ontario before arriving in Winnipeg in the fall of 1906. He was probably working as a freelance artist through 1911, having art work published in the Winnipeg Telegram and Calgary Eye Opener, and may have also tried ranching in Alberta. Between 1908 and 1911, he prepared, along with fellow cartoonist Hay Stead and others, a series of caricatures of noteworthy men for publication in the book Manitobans As We See ‘Em, and a similar volume entitled British Columbians As We See ‘Em.
In 1911, he moved to Montreal to become Advertising Manager for Carrick Real Estate Limited while continuing to do art work on the side. After returning from military service overseas, he found work at the Halifax Herald, where he was political cartoonist and manager of the engraving department, and after 1931, library supervisor, until retirement in 1937. On 20 June 1912, he married Mary Jane Fraser at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. They had one daughter, Margot McRitchie (wife of Jack Miller). After retirement from the Herald, he returned briefly to real estate work for the J. J. Carrick firm at Toronto, Ontario before returning to Halifax to administer the federal government’s telephone censorship policy during the Second World War.
After the war, McRitchie worked briefly for the Information Division of the Nova Scotia Department of Trade and Industry. He died at Halifax, after a lengthy illness, on 29 November 1948 and was buried in Camp Hill Cemetery. A collection of his art work is contained in the Esther Clark Wright Archives of Acadia University (Wolfville, Nova Scotia).
Attestation papers, Soldiers of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada.
“The art of regional protest: The political cartoons of Donald McRitchie, 1904-1937” by Margaret Conrad, Acadiensis XXI 1 (Autumn 1991), page 5-29.
We thank Jeanette and Jim Paynter for providing additional information used here, including a photograph of D. McRitchie.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 12 November 2016