Canada Post recently issued its annual Black History Month stamp, and this year’s commemoration focuses on a historical figure who continues to fascinate and confound scholars. Little is known about Mathieu Da Costa, but from the few records that remain, historians conclude he was a free man who earned a living as an interpreter for Europeans, who were trading with Indigenous people in the New World. Believed to be of African or even Euro-African descent, his connection to Canada came in 1608 – the year Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Québec – when Da Costa signed a contract to work for Pierre Dugua de Mons, a French fur-trader, explorer and governor of Acadia. “While the full story of Mathieu Da Costa may never be known, interest in his life and in his unique connection with our country is a reminder of the values of respect, acceptance and diversity that Canadians cherish,” said Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra. With no portrait of Da Costa available, designer Andrew Perro and illustrator Ron Dollekamp worked closely with Canadian historical illustrator and storyboard artist Francis Back to ensure the period clothing and sailing ship reflect De Costa’s time and socio-economic milieu. As with all stamps issued in 2017, the Black History stamp will contain references to Canada’s sesquicentennial that are only visible with a black light. Continue reading →
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As I reflect on another year in philatelic journalism – and as I continue my personal progression from stamp journalist to stamp collector – I believe I’ve gained a bit of understanding about one of the hobby’s longstanding concerns. Please bear in mind this doesn’t mean I think the hobby is in trouble, or that this concern even merits a response. The close-knit Canadian community is indeed thriving, and around the world, things are good, insofar as being “on this side of the dirt” is good. The state of the hobby was perhaps best demonstrated at last year’s World Stamp Show in New York City, where philately proved to be alive and well. And this isn’t coming from me (who unfortunately couldn’t attend, although I’ll see you in Boston in 2026); it’s coming from the show’s attendees and dealers, who are still going on about how busy the bourse was, and how eager collectors were to grow their collections.
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