OTD: 1976 Summer Olympics ‘Arts and Culture Programme’ commemorated

On today’s date in 1976, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) issued a three-stamp set commemorating the 1976 Summer Olympics Arts and Culture Programme (Scott #684-686).

By a special amendment of the International Olympic Committee by-laws, the Arts and Culture Programme of the XXI Olympiad was the responsibility of the host country for the first time in the history of the games.

The 1976 Summer Olympics – held July 17-Aug. 1 – presented to the world a showcase of Canadian accomplishments “representing our lifestyle and culture from coast to coast and featuring the very best talent in plastic arts, graphic arts, performing arts and handicrafts,” notes a press release issued by the Post Office Department.

A 25-cent stamp was also issued as part of the ‘Arts & Culture Programme’ release.

“Concerts, pageants and exhibitions featuring all these disciplines will be held throughout the entire month of July, starting a week before the athletic events, in all the most prestigious locations in and around the Olympic site in Montreal, as well as in Kingston and Ottawa. The organizing committee has made special efforts to encourage the public’s active participation, both as contributors and spectators, and many of the events have been designed especially to appeal to children.”

Each of the stamps – a 20-cent stamp, “Communications Arts,” (SC #684); a 25-cent stamp, “Handicrafts,” (SC #685); and a 50-cent stamp, “Performing Arts,” (SC #686) – was designed by Ray Webber, of Toronto.


Another 20-cent denomination (SC #689), this designed by legendary artist Rolf Harder and dubbed “XII Olympic Winter Games, Innsbruck, 1976,” was also issued on Feb. 6, 1976.

A 20-cent stamp issued for the 1976 Winter Games was designed by Rolf Harder.

The 1976 Winter Olympic Games were hosted in Innsbruck, Austria, from Feb. 4-15. The capital of the Austrian province of Tyrol, Innsbruck also hosted the 1964 Winter Olympics.

Harder, whose artwork was used on Christmas stamps issued by Canada Post in 2016, studied both Fine Arts and Graphic Arts at the Academy in Hamburg, where he worked professionally before coming to Canada in 1955. His design on the 20-cent Winter Games stamp uses the official Innsbruck Olympic Symbol combined with a stylized snow crystal. The blue-grey background represents a cold winter sky and serves to dramatize the five bright colours of the Olympic rings.

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