Canada Post goes no-huddle with Cup’s 100th

A set of stamps commemorating the Canadian Football League and the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup, originally planned to be issued later in the year, was moved forward to a sale date of June 29, the first game of the season. The original launch date was to be in the fall, closer to the date of the 100th championship game. The stamps are the vanguard of an entire range of CFL-related products. Full information on the extensive program will be available in the next issue of Canadian Stamp News.

The issue consists of eight stamps, one for each team currently in the league. The stamp designs are similar, with each of the permanent-rate stamps showing the logo and colours of the teams: British Columbia Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hamilton Tiger Cats, Toronto Argonauts, and Montreal Alouettes. The stamps will be issued in coils of 50, with each coil being just one team. A collector wanting one of each will have to purchase all eight coils. The coil stamps will also be available in two sets, one containing a strip of four stamps for each team, and one with a strip of 10 stamps for team. In addition, there will be a souvenir sheet containing examples of all eight stamps, with an image of the Grey Cup, and the CFL and 100th anniversary logos.

Canada Post will also issue a souvenir sheet Official First Day cover with an Aug. 16, Toronto, cancel. The coils are self-adhesive with simulated perforations at the top and bottom. The Souvenir Sheets are water-activated PVA adhesive, with 13+ perforations. Both versions are produced on Tullis Russell paper with general four-side tagging. They were produced by Lowe-Martin. Two-million stamps were produced for each team, and 200,000 souvenir sheets. The CFL started out in the 1880s as the Canadian Rugby Football Union; the game was originally known as rugby. The league evolved over the years, as did the game. While Canadian football is now more like United States gridiron football, it retains several rugby traditions such as only three down, a larger field, and more players on the field.

In 1992, the CFL attempted to expand into the United States. The southern division consisted of the Sacramento Gold Miners, later San Antonio Texans, Las Vegas Posse, Baltimore Stallions, Shreveport Pirates, Birmingham Barracudas, and Memphis Mad Dogs. An attempt to form a Miami team failed. While the move was not particularly successful, in 1995 the Baltimore Stallions became the only American team to win the Grey Cup. The franchise later relocated to Montreal, following the failure of the team there. The Grey Cup was donated in 1909 by the then-Governor General of Canada, the fourth Earl Grey. No games were played from 1916 to 1919 due to the First World War.

The cup is awarded each year and has the names of members of the winning team engraved on its base. Among the names on the cup are actor John Candy and Wayne Gretzky, co-owners of the Argonauts in 1991. The first team to receive the cup was the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Of the remaining teams in the league, the Argonauts, with 24 wins have won the cup the most, at 24, and the Roughriders the least, at three. Originally all competing teams were amateurs, however since 1954, only professional teams have competed. Today post-secondary football teams compete for a separate trophy called the Vanier Cup.

The cup has been damaged on a number of occasions, several times in Edmonton. In 1978 two Eskimo players dropped and broke it, it was sat on by another team member in 1987 and broken in 1993 by Eskimo Blake Dermott. It was broken from its base by the winning BC Lions in 2006. Earlier in its life it survived a fire in 1947, and in 1969 was stolen and held for ransom.

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