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This narrative should not be used as a blueprint for acquiring your first honorary degree.
As a youngster, I was a terrible student—an incorrigible rascal in fact. I remember wanting the tiresome process of formal education just to be over. My teachers obliged by throwing me out of high school in 1961 on what they strongly indicated was a permanent basis.
For the next few years, I knocked about here and there, hitchhiking throughout much of North America, picking up occasional odd jobs where I could. Mostly though, I spent my time sketching whomever and whatever I came across in my travels, accumulating some two thousand drawings over a three-year period. I then surprised myself by deciding that it might be helpful to go back to art school to improve my craft.
I applied to the École des Beaux Arts in Quebec City as I had been spending my summers there, drawing portraits of tourists at a couple of bucks each. The professors seemed quite enthusiastic at the time and decided that my drawings were good enough to propel me straight into third year. All that was required was for me to produce my high school leaving certificate. That was on a Friday. Without blinking, I said I would return on Monday with the document.
I spent that weekend drawing myself a very fancy graduation certificate—one of the best drawings I've ever done, actually.
Eventually, I graduated from art school with—surprise!—a BA. In 1967 I decided to settle here in Montreal and have made a living with my drawings ever since. It hasn't always been a smooth road, but as Garrison Keillor once said, it is helpful in life "to have interesting failures." I am just very fortunate that through a piece of serendipity, my occupation of cartooning has also been my avocation.
My life journey has brought me some success over the years and made it possible for me to pay society back in a number of small ways. I am genuinely touched and grateful that Heather Munroe-Blum, Richard Pound and the other good folks here at McGill—in my own home town yet—have recognized my efforts by bestowing this honorary doctorate on me.
Indeed, I'm doubly thankful because I didn't even have to draw it.
Terry Mosher is a recipient of two National Newspaper Awards, a member of the Canadian News Hall of Fame and an officer of the Order of Canada. He is also known as Aislin.