Last week, I introduced you to the Denoon family, from the Canadian Boys series. Composed of son Pictou, mother Port Hawkesbury and father Stellarton, this family is not like others – they have each experienced their own struggles, while also looking towards a bright future together.

This is especially true of Pictou, the Denoons’ 13-year-old son. He was born by breech with a bladder condition, the cause of much embarrassment and haranguing throughout his young life, which still continues to the present day. Despite this, he has managed to find a reason to be alive and optimistic – and that is taking up cooking.

Towards the end of Once Upon a Time in Canada, Pictou is inspired to bake his own chocolate chip cookies after Port Hawkesbury finds him in the kitchen, crying at him. Spurred on by her pleas to him to become more independent, he brings out his cooking gear and starts to whip up a batch of homemade cookies, adding a tangy twist of spice. Inviting his parents to have a bite each, Pictou bakes even more cookies and travels around the city, handing out cookies to pleasantly surprised passerbys – including Fredericton and Nanaimo of Fredericton’s Fantastic Funhouse.

This wasn’t just a one-off whim, however, since I then decided to make cooking Pictou’s permanent hobby and eventual career. I felt that this would add more depth and reason to an otherwise one-dimensional and laughably ‘weak’ character, and help Pictou gain a name for something other than his bladder condition.

I drew this artwork of Pictou hard at work baking not long after I completed the first draft of the Once Upon a Time in Canada novel. While in the story he baked spiced chocolate chip cookies, here he is baking a gingerbread man (presumably also with spice mixed in). Although the tray is fresh out of the oven and so is very hot, Pictou isn’t wearing oven gloves of any kind, meaning he just might be burning his delicate little hands! 😱🔥🙌🏽

(Or the wavy lines emanating from the tray could simply represent the scent of freshly-baked gingerbread arising into the air, and Pictou left the tray to cool a little beforehand, which is the safer option.)

As mentioned previously, this isn’t just a whim of Pictou’s – he seriously considers cooking as his future career when he leaves college. Which doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, as he remains 13 years old and in junior high school, as per the unwritten cartoon ‘rules’.