On today’s date in 1951, the House of Commons approved the incorporation of TransCanada PipeLines with the aim of building the country’s first transcontinental pipeline.
In 2008, Canada Post featured the TransCanada pipeline on a 52-cent multi-coloured stamp (Scott 2267) in commemoration of the 5,000-kilometre pipeline, which carries natural gas from Alberta – through Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario – to Quebec. The stamp was released as part of the Industries: Oil and Gas issue, which included another stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of James Williams’ discovery of oil in Lambton County, Ont. Banff artist Tim Nokes designed both stamps.
“For the pipeline stamp, I created an image of a single, anonymous welder to represent the thousands of men and women who worked on the project,” said Nokes. “To add a festive touch, I had the welding sparks transform themselves into bits of confetti.”
Nokes said a big challenge was finding the best way to communicate these momentous national events in the tiny frames of postage stamps.
Canada’s first major discovery of natural gas was in 1883, when workers attempted to dig a water well but struck gas instead near Medicine Hat, Alta. Soon after, nearby residents were using the gas to live and work more comfortably in warm, well-lit homes and businesses. However, developing the province’s massive stores of natural gas proved too expensive and unwieldy for the private sector to accomplish. As a result, in 1956, the Canadian government offered to guarantee loans for the pipeline’s construction, paving the way for the first Great Canadian Pipeline Debate.
The debate, which contributed to the defeat of the St. Laurent government in 1957, focused on concerns over proper parliamentary procedure, Canada-U.S. relations and the pipeline’s cost.