During World War Two, Canadian soldiers, who were often more Canadian than they were soldiers, citizens putting up with hardship and absurdity to do a necessary and unpleasant job, laughed at the cartoon character Herbie, who embodied all their trials and indignities. Herbie was the creation of a Canadian sergeant, William Garnet “Bing” Coughlin, whose cartoons appeared starting midwar in The Maple Leaf.

I was browsing through a collection of Herbie cartoons in a now out-of-print collection (Thomas Nelson, 1959, though I think reprinted in 2008) and found this depiction of a Canadian army padre. It’s a clever piece. The padre’s question – “Maintenance, I presume?” – could be sheer cluelessness (something we are famous for) or he could be gently letting the would-be distillers know that he is turning a blind eye to their still. Which do you think it is?