New Canada Post issue celebrates discovery of Erebus

On July 22, Canada Post unveiled three stamps commemorating Sir John Franklin’s 1845 search for the Northwest Passage and the recent discovery of his vanished flagship, HMS Erebus, in September of last year.

The stamps – two Permanent and one international rate – will be issued Aug. 6. The se-tenant – or side-by-side – Permanent stamps were designed by Roy White, of the Vancouver-based Subplot Design, with illustrations from Halifax resident Mike Little, who has also worked on other stamps, including the Titanic collection (Scott #2536-37) issued in 2012.

Measuring 32 by 40 mm and available in booklets of 10 stamps, the newly issued Permanent stamps use a white background and high relief embossing, making the stamps appear as if they were carved from ice. The first stamp shows Erebus with HMS Terror – another vessel that was part of Franklin’s lost expedition – in the background. The second stamp features a map of the Arctic region, which Franklin explored, and uses Inuktut to mark places, reflecting the Inuit oral history that guided many searches, including Erebus’ discovery in 2014.

Printed by the Lowe-Martin Group using six-colour lithography, the se-tenant stamps are also available on an official first-day cover (FDC) cancelled in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut and a gummed pane of 16 stamps, which is also available framed, with a unique two-tone metallic ink cancel.

“The mystery of Franklin’s expedition has long captured the imaginations of Canadians. It’s a story of leadership, brave exploration, our history, our culture and our iconic North, all wrapped together,” said Justice Minister and Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay.

“These stamps reflect Canadians’ pride in technology while embracing the traditional stories and knowledge that helped make the discovery of Erebus possible and highlight a cherished moment in the history of our nation.”

The international-rate stamp, also designed by White, combines Matthew Betts’ illustration of the Erebus’ deck plan with a modern sonar image from the wreck, courtesy of the Canadian Hydrographic Service of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The accompanying souvenir sheet features an underwater photo provided by Parks Canada of the ship’s bell as discovered by divers. Phosphorescent ink on the stamp enhances the sonar image while metallic ink gives the bell its sheen.

The international-rate stamp, measuring 25 by 50 mm, is available in booklets of six; on a souvenir sheet measuring 103 by 65 mm; on an official FDC also cancelled in Gjoa Haven; and on a 12-souvenir sheet uncut press sheet measuring 650 by 483 mm.

“Canadian stamps have a long history of celebrating our great explorers,” said Deepak Chopra, Canada Post president and CEO. “These stamps honour Franklin and his bold men but also celebrate the discovery of a shipwreck that had eluded previous and perilous searches: the long-lost Erebus.”

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