Serge Chapleau is the youngest in a family of seven children. He grew up in a blue-collar neighbourhood of Montreal, in a house on Drolet Street. The humour and self-deprecation which quickly became his defence mechanisms evolved into the caustic personality of the man who would become known simply as “Chapleau.” They would also provide the foundation for his career as a cartoonist.
In 1969, he graduated from the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, where he studied painting and graphic arts.
In 1972, Serge Chapleau drew a cartoon of singer Gilles Vigneault for Perspectives Magazine, which immediately propelled him into the limelight and dramatically launched his career.
In 1985, Chapleau joined the staff of the Le Devoir daily newspaper where, each day, he used bold strokes of his pencil to portray the key issues and personalities in the news. His drawings were a great success and led to his increasing popularity, earning him a special place in media circles.
During this period, Chapleau created the puppet, Gérard D. Laflaque. To a degree his alter ego, this flamboyant character provided colourful commentary on political issues during short vignettes on Radio-Canada’s Minute et quart. In 2004, much to the public’s delight, Gérard D. Laflaque returned to the Radio-Canada airwaves in a weekly broadcast, “Et Dieu créa… Laflaque,” presented in 3D.
In 1993, L’année Chapleau (the first collection of his cartoons published throughout the year) appeared in bookstores. A new collection would be published each year for many years.
On 6 April 1996, Chapleau succeeded the famous Girerd and joined the staff of the La Presse daily. Each day for over 20 years, Chapleau’s pencil strokes and unique vision added bite to the news. Some of his cartoons are classics, in particular, those of Montreal’s former mayor, Jean Drapeau, PQ politician Louise Beaudoin, and the former leader of the Liberal Party, Stéphane Dion. In addition, his use of the computer to rework his drawings made him a pioneer in his artistic field.
Awards and Honours
In 1997, Chapleau won the top prize in the Canadian Journalism Contest, an achievement he repeated four more times: in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.
In 2005, the undeniable success of the Et Dieu créa… Laflaque broadcasts earned Chapleau the Banff World Television Festival award for best comedy.
In 2015, Serge Chapleau was made a member of the Order of Canada.
In October 2021, Canada Post issued a series of stamps featuring five Canadian cartoonists, including Chapleau. One of these stamps commemorates Chapleau’s We Love you - Pas cette fois-ci j’ai mal à la tête! regarding the 1995 Québec Referendum.