Fonds F0533 - Ben Wicks fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Ben Wicks fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material
  • Moving images
  • Sound recording
  • Object

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1886-2008, predominant 1956-2000 (Creation)
    Wicks, Ben

Physical description area

Physical description

  • 1.2 m of textual records
  • ca. 3200 cartoons
  • 30 photographs : b&w & col. slides 35 mm
  • 12 photographs : b&w negatives 35 mm and 125 mm
  • 30 audio cassettes : compact cassettes
  • 17 audio cassettes : microcassettes
  • 64 videocassettes : U-matic
  • 9 videocassettes : VHS
  • 3 videocassettes : Betacam SP
  • 1 object

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Alfred (Ben) Wicks (1 Oct. 1926 - 10 Sept. 2000) was born in Southwark, a borough of London, England’s East End. After World War Two, he remained in London working odd jobs including a stint with the British Air Training Corp. and as a saxophone player before turning to a career as an illustrator. Wicks married Doreen Curtis (1935-2004), a nurse, in Bristol, England, on 31 May 1956.

Ben and Doreen Wicks moved to Calgary, Canada in 1957. Wicks had his first sale as a cartoonist in Canada to The Saturday Evening Post in 1962, and year later, started as a staff member for the Toronto Telegram. His cartoon strip, “The Outcasts,” a take on politics in Canada and the United States, was soon syndicated by over 50 newspapers. In 1967, Wicks was assigned to travel alongside a journalist to cover the Nigerian–Biafran War and its effects on the civilian population through cartoons and drawings. Wicks would continue his efforts in humanitarian work in Haiti, Sudan and other parts of Africa.

After the Toronto Telegram ceased operations in 1971, Wicks moved to the Toronto Star. His single frame cartoon, “Wicks,” was syndicated in 84 Canadian and over 100 American newspapers. Wicks was also a well-known Canadian television personality. He hosted several productions including “Ben Wicks” in the late 1970s that aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1990, Wicks founded the I.Can Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to children’s literacy around the world, and he illustrated several literacy booklets (Born to Read series) that reached millions of school age children across Canada.

Wicks published over 40 books and booklets over his career including Ben Wicks’ Canada (1976), Ben Wicks’ Women (1978), Ben Wicks’ Book of Losers (1979), Ben Wicks’ Etiquette (1981), Ben Wicks’ Dogs (1983), Mavis & Bill (1986), and Mavis & Bill Yes, Again! (1988). He also published non-fiction books including No Time to Wave Goodbye (1987), The Day they Took the Children (1988), Nell’s War (1990), Welcome Home (1991), Master of None: The Story of Me Life (1995), and Dawn of the Promised Land: The Creation of Israel (1997).

In 1986, Wicks was awarded membership into the Order of Canada, followed three years later by his wife, Doreen.

Ben Wicks died of cancer on 10 Sept. 2000.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of material documenting Ben Wicks’s work as a cartoonist, author, public speaker, television personality, humanitarian, and journalist. The records include material related to published books and booklets, original drawings and cartoons, research files, speeches, scrapbooks and clippings, diaries and day planners, published books, and audio recorded oral histories with members of the Jewish diaspora that immigrated to Israel during the 1920s – 1950s. Also included are records pertaining to Ben Wick’s investiture into the Order of Canada and episodes of “Ben Wicks,” an interview format television show that aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) channel in the late seventies, early eighties. 

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Dr. Kimberley Barker in December 2022.


Language of material

  • English

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No accruals expected.

General note

Copies of Ben Wicks's published books and booklets can be found in Special Collections and in the general collection of Scott Library.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2023/05/08 K.Kerr. Created.
2023/12/05. MP. Revised repository.

Language of description

  • English


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