Universal health care a newer, but defining Canadian detail

That short history lesson reminds us that something we have come to take for granted really is quite a recent innovation. So it is nice to see a stamp that reminds us that this part of our identity is so very new; much newer than Confederation. I often joke that Canadians often define themselves in two ways: one, that they have universal health care, and two, that they are not residents of the United States. If that’s the case, these stamps are very truly Canadian. Continue reading →

Douglas stamp marks nation’s health care shift

Tommy Douglas, the person best associated with Medicare and a person voted the Greatest Canadian by CBC viewers in 2004, is the subject of a new stamp issue. As a young boy Douglas developed an infection that would have cost him his leg. He was able to receive medical treatment only after his father met a surgeon who agreed to treat him in order to teach students. Later in life he became a Baptist preacher in Weybourn, Sask. Always a believer in social activism, he also became involved in politics. Continue reading →

Canada’s role in Korean War often forgotten

The truth is that many Canadians forget that this nation committed an entire infantry brigade with supporting troops to that war. That is a significantly larger commitment than at any time in Afghanistan, and remains, in fact our largest commitment of military personnel since the Second World War. The irony comes from the fact that Canada Post has no announced plans to issue a stamp next year to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the conflict. It is a symbol of how, to most Canadians, the Korean War seems more about M*A*S*H reruns than about very human sacrifices and suffering. I suggest that if Canada Post wants to save the day here, it can issue a 2014-dated stamp marking the return to Canada of the last troops sent to Korea. The best way to remember a war is to remember the peace that came afterwards. Continue reading →

South Korean stamps honour Canadian veteran

South Korea has issued postage stamps honouring a Canadian veteran of the Korean War. The stamps were unveiled June 22, but commemorate the 100th birthday on July 5 of Maj. Campbell Lane, the oldest Commonwealth veteran of the conflict, which took place from 1950 to 1953. At a brief ceremony in Ottawa, where Lane lives, a citation was read from South Korean Veterans Minister Park Sung Choon. “To our knowledge, no other Commonwealth veteran has achieved this most impressive milestone,” it stated. “The 49 million people of Korea send him 49 million wishes for a most happy birthday.” Continue reading →

Irv knows the stamps of tomorrow are invested in young artists of today

Irv Osterer is to be commended for challenging high school students to design stamps and related products. While it is debatable how many, if any, of his young charges will actually turn into commercial stamp artists or collectors, he nonetheless is reaching out to a group of young people. As a parent, I know that many of these people not only don’t collect stamps, they don’t even use them. What’s more, with regular post offices closing all over Canada, I doubt many young people even know where to buy a stamp. This is all just a sign of the times. Continue reading →

Students create philatelic tribute to Jack Layton

The Grade 11 students had to research not only Layton’s distinctive look, but also the challenges in creating art for an image as tiny as a stamp. The students had their choice of media, ranging from watercolour to caricature. The finished designs were then treated digitally, to create the final stamp representations. Students also created cancellation, first-day cover (FDC), and booklet designs. The FDC “cancels” are marked July 18, Layton’s birthday. The project proved an interesting one at a time when many youngsters have never even used postage stamps. Continue reading →

Station K closure a sign of the times

On one level is the fact that the Station K building is unique in that the royal cipher ER over the doorway is actually ER VIII, or King Edward VIII. Most of us know him better as the Duke of Windsor, the man who became King of England in the 1930s, and then abdicated to marry the woman he loved, a divorced American commoner. The Brits are pretty tolerant of their royalty, but apparently do have a three-strike rule. Although never actually crowned king, Edward did rule for a short period of time. During that time, Canada Post built Station K, and put his cipher over the door. It is, I am told, the only post office and possibly the only public building in Canada to bear this distinction. Continue reading →

Royal Mail paints the country gold

Just hours into the Olympic Games, the Royal Mail issued new stamps to celebrate six gold medals Britain had won in London. Won on a Saturday, the stamps were on sale the following Sunday at selected post offices. It is the first time the mother of all posts has issued stamps honouring individual athletes, and only the third time a host nation has issued individual Olympic gold medal stamps. The stamps are offered at more than 500 post office branches, all of which will remain open on Sundays during the Games, the first time Royal Mail branches have been open on any Sunday. Continue reading →

Weekend warriors deserve as much honour as any soldier

What makes the honouring of these regiments is that while the Canadian army did maintain two regular force Black Watch battalions for a few years, today these regiments are made up of citizen soldiers. Sometimes – and not always affectionately – referred to as weekend warriors. These young men and women train evenings and weekends, for them the army is a part-time job or hobby. It is a tradition that goes back a long time. Canada had an active militia even before the War of 1812. Since then, in every crisis, the part-time soldier has been called on time and time again. Sometimes, such as in the Second World War, entire units have been activated; other times, such as Afghanistan, much smaller units, or even individuals, have been called upon. Continue reading →

Picture postage line gets jazzed up in time for holidays

Canada Post has jazzed up the picture postage line up with new formats, new values, and new frames. In fact, nearly 100 new value and format combinations now exist. According to the Crown corporation, picture postage is now available with 12 new designs and three new formats. Canadians can choose between permanent domestic rate, United States rate, international rate, and oversize rate. As for formats, the stamps are now offered in sheets of 25 stamps plus a souvenir sheet of 50, a sheet of 50, and in booklets of 12 stamps. The new booklet format allows customers to have a different image on the cover than on the stamps, and has a personalized caption. Continue reading →

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