A V I E W F R O M C H A R L O T T E T O W N , P R I N C E E D W A R D I S L A N D
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Over the years the Island has been blessed with people choosing us and coming in a positive mode to help shape our communities. I've been fortunate to know a number of such people. Some have been transferred here with their work, some have applied for advertised positions. They have come and actually stayed - or at least have stayed long enough to make a difference. And then, we have some who have married into our community. The topic of my treatise today is that kind of person. Vic Runtz met Aletha "Lee" Saunders when he served a short stint in the Navy here during WW2. Lee lived on Upper Hillsborough Street and is a sister of Freddie's who use to go with our friend Hilda Pickard.
After the war Vic, who had been drawing pictures as long as he could remember, went on to further his studies on illustrating and cartooning. It was that marriage to a Charlottetownian, no doubt, that led him to accept the role of "cartoonist-in-residence at the Guardian in the early summer of 1948. Island readers had the joy of his work almost every morning for ten years. His subjects covered all subjects; politics, the arts, healthy teeth, the crows in Victoria Park, the tourists, the railway etc., etc.. The subjects covered such a wide variety of matters - important matters. The matters, that in Vic's view, that aimed at enriching the lives of Islanders. A gentle, quite man whose eyes missed little and whose fingers produced a documentary of a decade of Island history that speaks of the soul of the place.
Vic himself put it best "Cartoons like the newspapers which carry them, are 'here today'. They are destined to wrap tomorrow's fish. Yet, looking back, we discover that much of yesterday and the yesterdays before remains here today." He couldn't be more right. Anyone who spends time on historical research finds, that, over and over again.
Vic left us in 1958 and went to work at the Bangor Daily News as their cartoonist. After he had spent 25 years there, the University of Maine produced a book on his cartoons called "Here today ...". I'm not sure how many years after that he stayed in Bangor, but he did come back to PEI and on his mailbox out in Brackely Beach you can still see the Vic Runtz cat.
Vic was joined sometime in the 49's by The Cat, his "fellow traveller" as he called him and Vic goes on to describe him in the forward of the U of M book as "... a spry little cat in a sporty bow tie. At 35 he keeps up best he can, always putting in an appearance...".
To Lee and his sons and their families I express my sympathy and love. I add a special thank you to the Burnetts of the Guardian for recognizing Vic Runtz's talent.
I'm going to collect his cartoons so I'm looking for more Vic Runtz stories to go with them. We must document this man's time with us - it would be the best tribute we could pay him.