On today’s date in 1976, Gordon Lightfoot released his single The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald from his album Summertime Dream.
Three months later, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald hit No. 1 in Canada on RPM magazine’s national singles survey.
In June 2007, Canada Post issued a set of four 52-cent stamps (Scott #2221as) celebrating Lightfoot (SC #2221a) alongside fellow Canadian music icons Joni Mitchell (SC #2221b), Anne Murray (SC #2221c) and Paul Anka (SC #2221d). The issue followed the previous summer’s popular Canadians in Hollywood issue.
“Creating these stamps is Canada Post’s way of giving something back to these very talented artists, who have given so much to Canadians,” said Liz Wong, manager of stamp design and production at Canada Post, adding the four stamps were only the second Canada Post issue to honour living Canadians, the first being Oscar Peterson in 2005. “Trivia buffs may notice that living Canadians honoured on a postage stamp have something in common—they’ve all received the Order of Canada.”
The CD-shaped Canadian Recording Artists booklets—available with eight stamps—also put a new spin on this type of collectible. In addition, a souvenir sheet (SC #2221), official first-day cover and postcards were available.
Robert Peters, of Winnipeg’s Circle Design, said his design team was very enthusiastic about working with “living legends” while they developed the Canadian Recording Artists issue.
“We tried to portray the distinctive personality of each performer,” Peters explained, “and we wanted to depict them at a significant moment in their careers.”
Inspired by album covers, each stamp is square in format and features a photo of the artist along with distinctively styled fonts appropriate to the era. As some of the photos were taken more than 30 years ago, obtaining suitable originals and approvals involved a significant amount of research.
To reflect the glamour and prestige of the recording artists, Peters incorporated a distinctive MetalFX process.
“The MetalFX process involves under-printing in metallic silver ink, then over-printing with other colours,” said Peters. “The result gives a lustrous sheen to the artists’ portraits and lends a ‘platinum album’ feel to the shiny, disc-shaped stamp booklets and souvenir sheet.”
The stamps went through various design refinements before reaching their final form.
“Like human gestation, designing a stamp is a simple but complex process,” he said. “It takes about nine months to do, and you can’t rush it.”
Printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper using nine-colour lithography, the Lightfoot stamp had general tagging along each side.
Lightfoot was born on Nov. 17, 1938, in Orillia, Ont. A talented youth, he performed at Massey Hall at the age of 13, and performed in a barbershop quartet called The Teen-Timers during high school. Soon after, he performed with a choral and dance group on CBC’s Country Hoedown and later played the North American coffeehouse circuit.
Lightfoot’s big break came with If You Could Read My Mind and was followed by hits Alberta Bound, Did She Mention My Name? and The Way I Feel.
His accolades include 15 Juno Awards, an induction into the Juno Hall of Fame, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and the first induction to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003.