Well-known local historian and centenarian Ernie Poignant launches his latest cartoon book, Welcome to the Past!, on Friday, July 19.
The launch takes place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Trethewey House Heritage Site, 2313 Ware St.
The 126-page soft-cover book is full of historical anecdotes with a distinctive Poignant twist. Proceeds from sales of the book go to Heritage Abbotsford Society.
Poignant was born in Ridgedale on the Matsqui flats on Feb. 4, 1919.
He started drawing after his Swedish grandmother, Hulda, taught him how to draw stick figures when he was four years old.
His first cartoon was published in Canadian Poultry magazine in 1940. He also had cartoons appear in military publications while he served at various Canadian bases – including the Abbotsford Airport – during the Second World War.
Poignant moved to Quesnel in the early 1950s, where he worked as a compositor – and editorial cartoonist – for the weekly Observer. There, he met his wife, Rose, and both children – Val and Gary – were born in Quesnel.
The family moved to Maple Ridge in 1958, when Poignant assumed a similar role with the Maple Ridge Gazette as compositor and editorial cartoonist until he retired in 1984.
He expanded his series of “chalk talk” drawings that he had started in the 1960s, and entertained kids at BC Children’s Hospital, Canuck Place and Ronald McDonald House.
Poignant also travelled to Whistler from 1975 to ’86 for their Children’s Arts Festival, where he instructed children how to draw cartoons.
After moving back to Abbotsford in 2003, Poignant used his first-hand knowledge and artistic skills to become a celebrated local historian.
“Ernie is a real treasure,” says Christina Reid, Heritage Abbotsford’s executive director. “Had I the option, I would accession him into the society’s collection.”
Poignant still has encyclopedic recall of all things historic.
“If Ernie doesn’t know it, it never happened,” Reid says.
“His cartoons cover all manner of events, from the mundane to the extraordinary; from switching from left- to right-hand traffic, lard pail lunches, and the Gifford Fair to the flood of ’48 and the opening of the Mission Bridge to cars.”