Bluenose stamp marks centenary with CAPEX 22 logo on some souvenir sheets

By Jesse Robitaille

Carrying on a tradition dating back seven decades, Canada Post has issued a set of stamps tying into next year’s CAPEX, the country’s fifth international stamp show since 1951.

This year’s issue – a pair of se-tenant stamps marking the centenary of the Bluenose launch – came out on June 29, less than a year before CAPEX 22 is set to kick off in downtown Toronto. Of the 110,000 two-stamp souvenir sheets issued as part of the Bluenose set, 40,000 are overprinted with the CAPEX 22 logo.

“The CAPEX 22 organizing committee is grateful to Canada Post for its continuing support of international and national philately,” according to a statement from the show’s organizers.

Canada Post (and its pre-1981 predecessor, the Post Office Department) has issued stamps and souvenir sheets for each of the country’s world philatelic exhibitions – in 1951, 1978, 1982, 1987, 1992 and 1996.

The CAPEX logo first appeared on a souvenir sheet in 1978. Issued for that year’s CAPEX 78 show in Toronto, it was also Canada’s first official souvenir sheet.

In 1951, during the nine-day CAPEX 51, the Post Office Department issued a four-stamp set (Scott #311-14) showing iconic modes of transportation from the previous century.

In 1978, the postal service issued Canada’s first souvenir sheet (SC #756a) – featuring three stamp-on-stamp commemoratives – for CAPEX 78. Four stamps (SC #753-56) were released as part of the set, with the first issue coming in January 1978 followed by the souvenir sheet in June during the show. The souvenir sheet marked the first time the CAPEX logo appeared on a Canadian stamp.

Four years later, Canada Post issued a five-stamp set (SC #909-13) for the 1982 International Philatelic Youth Exhibition.

The 2021 Bluenose stamps are available in 10-stamp booklets (shown).

Later in that decade, for CAPEX 87, Canada Post released another four stamps (SC #1122-25) featuring historic post offices across the country.

The second world youth philatelic exhibition, Canada 92, saw four more stamps (SC #1404-07) honour the 1992 event’s theme, “Exploration and Discovery.”

For the latest CAPEX in 1996, Canada Post issued five stamps on a 10-stamp pane (SC #1606) celebrating the centennial of the 1896 Yukon gold discovery.

In addition to booklets, overprinted and regular souvenir sheets plus uncut press sheets, this year’s Bluenose issue includes a souvenir sheet official first-day cover (shown).


This year, the Bluenose souvenir sheet continues the tradition with the CAPEX 22 logo in the bottom-left corner.

Halifax-based art firm Dennis Page and Oliver Hill designed the se-tenant stamps with illustrations by Michael Little, also of Halifax, who drew his inspiration from paintings by east-coast marine artist William deGarthe.

Born in Finland in 1907, deGarthe spent most of his life in Peggy’s Cove, N.S., where he became a prominent member of the art community.

Issued in 1929, one of Canada’s most famous stamps features the Bluenose in full sail.

In addition to the souvenir sheets with and without the CAPEX logo, the Bluenose set includes:

  • 200,000 booklets of 10 Permanent stamps, each featuring five of both designs;
  • 10,000 official first-day covers (OFDCs); and
  • 2,500 uncut press sheets comprising six rows of four stamps arranged in se-tenant pairs (including 350 framed versions) with a background photograph by W.R. MacAskill depicting the Bluenose making its way to the start of a 1921 International Fishermen’s Trophy elimination race.

Toronto’s Colour Innovations printed the set using five-colour lithography, PVA gum and tagging on three sides.

Each OFDC is serviced with a cancel from Lunenburg, where the Bluenose was built and launched on March 26, 1921.

The 1929 Bluenose issue is recreated on a 1982 stamp released for that year’s International Philatelic Youth Exhibition. Held in Toronto, it was the first International Philatelic Youth Exhibition to take place outside of Europe.


Also known as the “Queen of the North Atlantic,” the Bluenose is “the most recognized sailing vessel in Canadian history,” according to a statement from Canada Post.

The famed fishing and racing schooner was built during a 20th-century rivalry between Lunenburg and nearby Gloucester, Mass., to produce the fastest, most successful fishing vessel. As the rivalry escalated, Halifax senator William Dennis launched the International Fishermen’s Trophy in 1920, and a year later, the Bluenose was built to challenge the U.S. winners of that first series of races.

The Bluenose was the 17th vessel designed by naval architect William James Roué, of Dartmouth, N.S. Roué went on to create more than 200 vessel designs, including for yachts (like the Blue Dolphin schooner), ferries and two freighter fleets for Newfoundland and the Arctic; however, the Bluenose comprises the cornerstone of his legacy.

A 1988 stamp features Bluenose Captain Angus Walters, who raced the schooner to its first International Fishermen’s Trophy in 1921.

Bluenose was successful in her first fishing season on the Grand Banks that summer able to carry a huge cargo of fish in her hold and still be the first back in port, collecting the highest pay,” reads Roué’s biography on wjroué.ca. “That fall, in October, she defeated her Canadian challengers in elimination races and carried on to meet the American champion in the series for the International Fishermen’s Trophy.”

In October 1921, with Angus Walters as captain, the Bluenose won its first International Fishermen’s Trophy. Over the next 17 years, it remained undefeated in four subsequent series, including in 1922, 1923, 1931 and 1938.

In the early 1940s, the Bluenose was sold to a West Indian trading company but wrecked off the coast of Haiti several years later. A replica known as Bluenose II was launched in 1963, and in the 1970s, it was given to the Province of Nova Scotia and it became a seaborne ambassador. To this day, it continues to sail the North Atlantic.

Canada Post honoured Bluenose architect William Roué on a 1998 domestic-rate stamp.


Before this June’s release, the Bluenose was featured on four Canadian stamps, beginning with the 50-cent issue released in 1929.

The 1929 Bluenose stamp was recreated on the 60-cent denomination in the five-stamp 1982 International Philatelic Youth Exhibition.

In 1988, a 37-cent stamp honouring Walters was issued and featured an image of the schooner below its victorious captain.

In 1998, Canada Post issued a 45-cent stamp honouring Roué with the 1929 issue in the background.

Nationally, the Bluenose has also graced Canada’s 10-cent circulation coin almost exclusively since 1937, and provincially, it’s featured on Nova Scotia’s current licence. The schooner is immortalized in song by folk legend Stan Rogers, who will be featured on a stamp in July (“Stan Rogers rounds out July issues,” CSN Vol. 46 #7).

The schooner is also one of the few non-human inductees to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 1933, it was featured at the Chicago World’s Fair, and two years later, it sailed to Plymouth, England, to participate in King George V’s silver jubilee celebrations.


Following the Bluenose issue, Canada Post’s next stamp will celebrate Rogers – the Bluenose crooner – on July 21.

With Canada Post taking a stamp-issuing break in August, the Crown corporation’s following issues – veiled in the riddled prose that’s become commonplace with recent releases – will include:

  • a set featuring a “novel topic” on Sept. 8;
  • an issue that “draws the lines” on Sept. 14;
  • the annual Canada Post Community Foundation semi-postal stamp on Sept. 20; and
  • a stamp with “universal appeal” on Sept. 29.

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