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David Parkins - A big world view, from little Lansdowne, Ontario

David Parkins is a top notch illustrator, whose work is seen in high profile international magazines, award winning ‘picture books’ and in political cartoons.  And he manages to do all of this work from inside his studio in the quiet rural village of Lansdowne in the Township of Leeds and the 1000 Islands.

David and his wife Angie moved to Canada from England in 2006 because they figured, as they were approaching the age of 50, that it was either time to ‘do something’ or accept that they would live the whole of their lives in Lincolnshire. 

They chose Canada because David had already done a bit of work for Canadian clients, and the climate had more appeal than that of Australia.  They chose the 1000 Island region because, when they were searching for a place to settle, they came off Highway 401 one late October day, discovered Gananoque, and thought ‘this river and this area are beautiful’.  Within 6 months they had found a heritage home in Lansdowne, and along with daughter Ollie, have settled in very nicely to Eastern Ontario life. 

David’s regular cartoons for The Guardian made it clear that he had tremendous insight into politics in Great Britain, and in short order, he has developed the same nose for the Canadian scene.  He was commissioned by the The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper, to draw a biting series on Toronto’s embattled mayor Rob Ford.  And about six months ago he became a regular editorial cartoonist for Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail.

Although many political stories slide off the pages quickly, the Canadian Senate spending scandals in Ottawa have captured the public interest for many months now.  Senators of all political stripes have been ‘caught’ charging expenses for travel and accommodation based on suspicious assertions as to their primary place of residence.  Parkins recent cartoon shown on here, beautifully captures the likenesses of the most notorious of the bunch, and amusingly offers them an alternative housing solution. 

Parkins is also a prolific illustrator of children’s’ picture books.  This year he was short listed for a Canadian Governor General’s Award for a book published by Tundra, called In the Bag: Margaret Knight Wraps It Up.  Monica Kulling wrote the text and Parkins illustrated it.  Margaret Knight was a young American woman who invented the flat-bottomed brown paper bag, and subsequently had to go to court to defend her work in a patent battle. 

David studied at art schools in Wales and England, and has worked free lance ever since.  The fact that he can mine up-to-date news sources in both the United Kingdom and North America from Lansdowne is very much a result of leading edge technology.   But when it comes to drawing, he uses an old-fashioned ‘dippy pen’, picking up fresh ink on his pen nib whenever it runs out; modern felt tipped markers just do not work for Parkins.

Parkins’ talent is astounding.  His images can convey a sense of gluttony and elite arrogance with biting wit.  He is equally capable of communicating an exquisite tenderness with his pen.   His illustrations spark imagination and pull the viewer in to pore over the lovely details.  Some of his work for The Economist, the Times Higher Education Supplement, The Walrus, and other prominent publications can be viewed at his website  

David Parkins is pretty happy living in Lansdowne.  Although the work of an illustrator can be a bit isolating, especially when one is alone scrolling through news items on the computer whilst listening to podcasts, it can also be rewarding, especially when Parkins feels he gets a drawing just right.  And then every so often, David exits his studio, and he and Angie head off to one of their favourite places in the area, The Socialist Pig in Gananoque, and relax with good company and great coffee. 

By Liz Huff

Liz Huff is a resident of Leeds and Thousand Islands Township having retired from Ottawa where, among other things, she was a director of community development policy for the federal government. Now she volunteers on local initiatives and works as an artist – a painter and a primitive rug hooker – inspired by the Frontenac Arch region.  Liz is one of Seeley’s Bay greatest fans and boisterous promoter and we thank her for the hours she puts into bringing well deserved recognition to this unique community.  Currently she is Secretary, Seeley’s Bay and Area Residents’ Association (SBARA) and Co-ordinator, Seeley’s Bay Steps Up (the economic revitalization project of SBARA).  Be sure to check out “Support Seele’s Bay” facebook page.


Posted in: Artists, People
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Gerry Last
Comment by: Gerry Last ( )
Left at: 9:39 AM Thursday, October 17, 2013
Great article, Liz...very interesting and well written.Nice of you to highlight a local artist.
Gerry Last - Rockport
Ted Bradford
Comment by: Ted Bradford ( )
Left at: 9:39 AM Monday, October 28, 2013
What a talent!!!!Wonderful article,thank you for the introduction to David.
Tomo of Qaf
Comment by: Tomo of Qaf
Left at: 6:05 PM Thursday, September 15, 2016

David's recent editorial cartoon of North Korea's Kim as a gleefully bouncing baby boy giving the rest of us the nuclear finger is the most graphically brilliant political image I have seen in a very long time, maybe ever. Globe and Mail, Monday, September 12, 2016.