Cross-country Terry Fox exhibit explores philatelic legacy

A cross-country exhibit exploring the legacy of Canadian hero Terry Fox began its stop in Fox’s hometown of Port Coquitlam, B.C. this September.

The national exhibit, “Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada,” will be at Port Coquitlam’s PoCo Heritage museum until Nov. 28. Curated by the Canadian Museum of History and the Terry Fox Centre, the exhibition begins by looking at Fox’s legacy through the stamps, coins and passports that bear his image. It’s running alongside a complementary exhibit created by PoCo Heritage called “Hometown Legacy,” which includes “more locally focused content.”

“The response to these exhibits has been very positive,” said museum co-ordinator Kelly Brown, who organized the exhibition with volunteer Steve Smith. “We have had many people comment on what an inspiration Terry is and how they are so happy to have an exhibit honouring him open in his hometown of Port Coquitlam.”

Fox was also commemorated on this 46-cent stamp issued as part of Canada Post’s Millennium Collection in 2000.

‘WHO WAS TERRY FOX?’

The exhibit poses a question – “Who was Terry Fox?” – before offering an inspiring answer using an array of contemporary photographs, newspaper images and maps. The exhibit also tells the story of Fox’s Marathon of Hope, including sections showing a day-in-the-life of the run; the iconic Marathon of Hope T-shirts; the cards and letters sent to Fox by Canadians; the marathon’s heartbreaking conclusion; and Fox’s ongoing legacy.

“I believe Terry’s continued presence in the lives of Canadians speaks to the continued importance of his legacy today,” said Brown. “For many, Terry is a hero who embodies many virtues – courage and bravery, determination, resilience in the face of adversity, hopefulness, and compassion. I think Terry’s legacy speaks to so many Canadians because I believe these are all qualities that we value and want to embody.”

COMMEMORATIVE COVERS

As part of its complementary exhibit, PoCo Heritage is also displaying two first-day covers with Canada Post’s 1982 commemorative stamp honouring Fox. One of the covers is framed alongside one of the Marathon of Hope T-shirts that Terry ran in, and the other cover was bought by PoCo Heritage President Julie Schmidt on the first day of issue. Both covers were postmarked at Port Coquitlam’s old post office, where the museum is now located.

“The connection between this building and Terry Fox is highlighted in the exhibit,” said Brown. “Not only was the commemorative 1982 stamp issued from this building, but this is the post office that processed and delivered thousands of letters to Terry and the Fox family after Terry returned to Port Coquitlam for treatment after the Marathon of Hope ended. We are very proud to be able to host these exhibits honouring Terry’s legacy in the very building that saw thousands of letters and tokens of support pour in from all corners of the world.”

PoCo Heritage is also inviting attendees to write postcard messages about how Fox has affected their lives. After being “mailed” in a mock post box, the postcards are added to the museum’s display.

“These postcards show an outpouring of gratitude towards Terry and include personal stories of how his legacy has helped and inspired generations of people,” said Brown, who added this part of the exhibit is “meant to change and grow over time.”

“As more people fill out postcards they will be added to the display and will create a kind of living exhibit.”

MARATHON OF HOPE

On April 12, 1980, Fox – who had already lost his right leg to cancer – dipped his artificial limb in the Atlantic Ocean. This began his 5,373-kilometre Marathon of Hope, a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research.

“I think that Terry Fox’s legacy has become a very valuable part of Canadian life. The extent of his legacy can be seen in the vast number of ways in which not only the people of Canada but the Government of Canada keep his name and his vision alive in Canada today,” said Brown.

“There are countless streets, buildings, parks and statues dedicated to Terry all over the country, and of course the annual Terry Fox Runs are still hosted everywhere. In addition, celebrations of Canada also seem to include Terry Fox such as the recently released Canada 150 commemorative stamps which include Terry Fox as an example of courage and compassion, and the Terry Fox Award given to athletes who embodied Terry’s values of determination and humility during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.”

EXHIBIT LOCATION DATES
Royal BC Museum in Victoria, B.C. April 12-Sept. 29
Art Gallery of Burlington in Burlington, Ont. June 24-Sept. 10
PoCo Heritage in Port Coquitlam, Ont. Sept. 1-Nov. 28
Sam Waller Museum in The Pas, Man. Oct. 2-Dec. 31, 2017
Peterborough Museum and Archives in Peterborough, Ont. Sept. 28, 2018-Dec. 16, 2018

Canada Post unveiled this Permanent stamp featuring Fox—the sixth stamp of its Canada 150 series—on May 25 in St. John’s, Nfld.

TERRY FOX STAMPS

Canada Post has issued three stamps in commemoration of Fox and his achievements. The first – issued April 13, 1982, less than a year after his death – was a 40-cent stamp (Scott #915) designed by Vancouver graphic artist Friedrich Peter, a former professor at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design.

More recently, in January 2000, the Crown corporation honoured Fox on a 46-cent stamp as part of its Millennium Collection.

Earlier this year, Canada Post unveiled the sixth stamp of its Canada 150 series in commemoration of Fox’s Marathon of Hope. The stamp – a commemorative program celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial – was unveiled with the help of Fox’s sister, Judith, near the iconic “Mile 0,” where Fox dipped his artificial right leg into the Atlantic Ocean.

For more information about the ongoing Fox exhibit, visit historymuseum.ca/event/terry-fox-running-to-the-heart-of-canada.

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