Founders & Guardians: 74 Portraits


164 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-471-79864-9





Reviewed by John Marston

John Marston was a federal civil servant in Ottawa.


This is indeed an elegant book. The Toronto artist Irma Coucill has drawn the Fathers of Confederation and all the Governors General and Prime Ministers since Confederation with great skill and feeling. In addition to the superb drawings there are biographies prepared by Clyde Blackburn and Jean-Charles Bonenfant, which are topical and informative.

Irma Coucill, whose drawings have been published in the Toronto Star since 1960, is one of the leading portrait artists in Canada. She started her career during World War II, when she was commissioned to draw portraits of personnel in the RCAF, RAF, and the Norwegian Air Force. Many other commissions followed: portraits for the Hockey Hall of Fame, Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

The fact that Coucill is one of the most renowned interpreters of our contemporary and historical personalities is amply demonstrated in this book. Each personality seems to leap out of the page. The regal and kindly face of General Georges Vanier, our nineteenth Governor General; the aristocratic and very British Duke of Connaught; the twinkle in the eyes of Sir John A. Macdonald — all provide the reader with not only the authoritative picture of our past and present, but an outstanding reference work. Highly recommended.


Coucill, Irma, “Founders & Guardians: 74 Portraits,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,