Carl Dair, 1912-1967

“Space is meaningless unless something happens in it.”  –Carl Dair


Carl Dair was a graphic designer and author whose classic book, Design With Type, discusses type as a design material and means of communication. It was the first Canadian work to be awarded “Book of the Year” honours by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. In 1967, Dair was commissioned by the Governor-General of Canada to create a distinctly Canadian typeface for the country’s centennial. The result, Cartier typeface, was the first text type designed in Canada. The most prominent use of Cartier font can be found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Born in Welland, Carl Dair spent his formative years in the Rose City attending Central Public School and Welland High. At the age of ten, he became a delivery boy for the Welland-Port Colborne Evening Tribune, where he worked for Louis Blake Duff. Dair would go on to work in printing establishments across Canada and the world, but his early years in Welland were important ones, as indicated in the dedication of Design With Type:

To the memory of Louis Blake Duff, a bibliophile of great knowledge and fine taste who nurtured my interest in typography at an early age and never turned his head away from me except when I was swiping type from the hell box of his printing office in Welland, Ontario.

The work of Carl Dair, one of Canada’s most celebrated designers, has had considerable influence on subsequent typographers and designers. Douglas Lochhead, Senior Fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto from 1963-1975, composed Dair’s obituary in 1967. It can be found here.

Further reading on Carl Dair can be found below…

Dair was honoured in the Devil’s Artisan Rogues’ Gallery of the Canadian Book and Printing Arts:

Canadian Encyclopedia Entry of Carl Dair:

A Memoir of Carl Dair by Laurie Lewis:

Command Type: The Typographic Quest of Carl Dair:

The Carl Dair Typography Workshops in Winnipeg:

Cartier Typeface



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