After more than four years of bitter struggle, the fighting in the Great War came to an end on Nov. 11, 1918 – on “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.” The newly issued Permanent stamp celebrates the silencing of the guns while commemorating those who fought and died for peace. Of the more than 650,000 Canadians who served with the Allies, more than 66,000 were killed and 172,000 were wounded.
“To us, the armistice was less about the moment of its signing than the lasting peace it brought,” said artist Larry Burke, who was joined by Anna Stredulinsky, both of Halifax’s Burke and Burke, and illustrator Jillian Ditner in designing the new issue.
A dove – a universal symbol of peace – is depicted at the centre of the stamp within a devastated landscape. Hovering over barbed wire, which is highlighted with a spot varnish effect, it serves as a poignant metaphor for the return of peace to a war-torn world. The photos of the celebrations in 1918 were selected for the booklet, pane and official first-day cover (OFDC) to convey the relief, joy and hope Canadians felt when the fighting stopped.
After the war, Armistice Day was observed on a Monday in early November until 1931, when a campaign led by the Canadian Legion resulted in a fixed date of Nov. 11 as well as a new name – Remembrance Day.
Every year on this day – when the clock strikes 11 – Canadians observe two minutes of silence in honour of the brave individuals who served Canada in times of war and peace.
This year, on the 100th anniversary of the First World War armistice, we once again reflect on their sacrifices and renew our solemn promise never to forget.
ANNOUNCEMENT ‘HELD BACK’
Earlier this year, after being criticized in an open letter written by the Ottawa Philatelic Society (OPS), Canada Post officials explained the armistice stamp’s announcement was “held back” from the initial 2018 stamp program rollout.
In the letter, which was addressed to Deepak Chopra, then-president and CEO of Canada Post, OPS President John Tooth wrote to express “deep concern that the program for Canadian stamps to be issued in 2018 completely ignores the end of World War I and the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918.”
The OPS, which is Canada’s oldest stamp club, then “initiated a very strong advocacy program designed to inform politicians and other senior bureaucrats that the November 11, 1918, Armistice ending the Great War was important and still is important for Canada,” Tooth said.
Soon after, Canada Post media relations manager Phil Legault explained that although the 2018 stamp program was already announced, “from time to time, some topics are held back and added for various reasons.”
“As for holding back announcing stamps, we’ve done that in the recent past such as for both Star Trek issues. If we ‘hold back’ announcing an upcoming stamp, we don’t disclose that ahead of time.”
BOOKLETS, PANES, OFDC
A total of 250,000 booklets of 10 domestic-rate stamps, each measuring 36 millimetres by 25 mm, were printed by Lowe-Martin using four-colour lithography and PVA gum. An additional 40,000 stamps were printed in panes of five. A total of 450 limited-edition framed panes of five are also available.
A total of 8,000 OFDCs, each measuring 190 mm by 112 mm, were also cancelled in Ottawa.
1969 ARMISTICE STAMP
In 1969, Canada’s Post Office Department issued a 15-cent stamp (Scott #486) commemorating the 50th anniversary of the armistice.
Its design depicts the Canadian National Vimy Memorial near Vimy, France, where the towering twin structures represent Canadian soldiers who were killed, presumed dead or went missing during the First World War.
The 1969 stamp features the sculpture group “The Defenders: The Breaking of the Sword” in the foreground alongside both Canadian and French forces.
The Vimy Memorial is one of only two National Historic Sites of Canada located outside the country (the other is the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, which is also located in France).
For more information, visit canadapost.ca.