OTD: Cirque du Soleil co-founder takes to space

On today’s date in 2009, Canadian billionaire and Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté hosted a multimedia event from the International Space Station (ISS) to raise awareness about global drinking-water problems.

Laliberte reportedly paid $35 million through the U.S. firm Space Adventures for a ride aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. His mission was devoted to raising awareness about his charity, the One Drop Foundation, which was founded in 2007 to promote water conservation. His 12-day trip culminated on Oct. 9, 2009, with a multimedia event called “Moving Stars and Earth for Water,” which was organized to celebrate water with performances from the ISS plus 14 cities around the world.

This February, Laliberté sold his 10 per cent ownership of Cirque du Soleil to the Québec Deposit and Investment Fund (known as the “Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec” in French) for $75 million US.

About a month later, on March 19, the company announced all of its 44 active shows worldwide would be suspended due to COVID-19. It laid off 95 per cent of its staff – 4,679 employees – and amassed a debt of more than $1 billion.

In June, despite a $50 million injection from shareholders plus a $200 million loan from the Québec government, Cirque du Soleil filed for bankruptcy protection and terminated 3,500 employees.

The following month, the Québec Superior Court approved a takeover proposal by the company’s creditors valued at $1.2 billion US.

In August, the Quebec Deposit and Investment Fund was forced to write off the $75 million US investment it made just four months earlier.

The Cirque du Soleil stamp was featured on this pane of four stamps (SC #1819), which also included the Calgary Stampede (SC #1819a); Hockey Night in Canada (SC #1819c); and La Soiree du Hockey (SC #1819d).


In 1999, as part of its Millennium Collection, Canada Post issued a 46-cent stamp (Scott #1819b) commemorating Cirque du Soleil.

Printed by Ashton-Potter on Tullis Russell coated paper, the stamp has general tagging along each side.

It was issued alongside three other stamps on a pane of four (SC #1819) celebrating Canadian entertainment. Also featured on the pane are the Calgary Stampede (SC #1819a); Hockey Night in Canada (SC #1819c); and “La Soiree du Hockey” (SC #1819d).

“A spectacular blend of music, theatre, dance and acrobatics, Cirque du Soleil has blossomed from a group of Quebec buskers into an award-winning troupe of more than 550 performers whose shows have wowed millions worldwide,” reads the promotional material issued in 1999 along with the Cirque du Soleil stamp.

From Dec. 17, 1999, to March 17, 2000, Canada Post released 68 specially designed stamps as a series of 17 Millennium souvenir sheets, each depicting four different stamps.

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