A native of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Bruce MacKinnon studied at St. Francis Xavier University, Mount Allison University and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
Bruce's cartoons have been acquired by the National Archives of Canada, the US Library of Congress, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, as well as other galleries. Many of his originals are part of St. Francis Xavier University's permanent art collection. He has published four books of cartoons and caricatures: Inklings (1990); Inklings II (1994); Pendemonium (2002); and Penetration (2010), which marked his 25th year with the Chronicle Herald.
His first professional experience in cartooning was at the age of 14, when he was hired to draw cartoons for the local weekly, The Casket. While in high school, he drew for the Antigonish Spectator and while attending St. F.X. University, he was a contributing cartoonist for the Xaverian Weekly. Bruce started drawing a weekly editorial cartoon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald in 1985, working at home while raising his newborn daughter. He joined the paper full-time in August of 1986.
His work has been featured in publications and exhibits all over the world.
As of 2019 he has won 20 Atlantic Journalism Awards for Editorial cartooning, including Journalist of the year in 1991 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.
He has won eight National Newspaper Awards, seven in the editorial cartooning category -1992, 1993, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2021 in addition to being awarded the first ever NNA Journalist of the Year award in 2014.
Earlier in his career he was named Best Political Cartoonist in Halifax for nine years running by The Coast newspaper before it elevated him to their Hall of Fame, thus retiring him from further contest.
2004 - Second prize: World Press Cartoon Competition, Portugal.
2014 - First prize: World Press Freedom Award
2014 - Second prize: Niels Bugge International Cartoon Award, Denmark.
2015 - Honourable mention: World Press Cartoon competition (caricature category), Portugal
2016 - Third prize in the World Press Freedom Award. He has also won the World Press Freedom Award of Excellence in 2007, 2012 and 2017.
2018 - Third prize: Art of Resistance Competition, Netherlands.
2019 - Second prize: World Press Freedom Award.
2020 - Third prize: World Press Freedom Award.
2021 - NCS Reuben Award (Editorial Cartoon division, National Cartoonists Society, USA).
In 2018 he was anonymously nominated by a member of the jury to be a finalist for the Sokol Prize, an international cartooning/caricature award administered by the Krems Karikatur Museum in Austria.
In 1996 he was awarded an honourary doctorate by St. Mary's University for his work in the field of editorial cartooning. In October, 2011 he was appointed to the Order of Nova Scotia and in 2013 he received both an honourary Doctor of Fine Arts from NSCAD University and the Friend of St.F.X. Award from St. Francis Xavier University.
In 2016 he was appointed to the Order of Canada.
Bruce lives in Halifax with his wife, Peggy. His daughter, Robyn, is a visual artist and his son, Jamieson, is a drummer who performs with Bruce as the father-son duo, Bruce & Jay.