OTD: No. 1 single honours ‘Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald’

On today’s date in 1976, Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald hit No. 1 in Canada on RPM magazine’s national singles survey.

Released three months earlier as part of Lightfoot’s Summertime Dream album, the song details the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which was a U.S. Great Lakes freighter that sank in a Lake Superior storm on Nov. 10, 1975. When it was launched in 1958, the 220-metre-long vessel was the largest ship on the lakes and remains the largest to have sunk on the lakes. The entire crew of 29 perished without a trace.

Now protected under the Ontario Heritage Act, the site has been searched several times, including during an expedition by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau, as well as a pair of scuba divers who used trimix gas to reach the 160-metre depth.

The Edmund Fitzgerald is the largest vessel to have sunk on the Great Lakes. (Photo by Greenmars)

2007 LIGHTFOOT STAMP

In June 2007, Canada Post issued a set of four 52-cent stamps (Scott #2221as) celebrating Lightfoot (SC #2221a) alongside fellow Canadian music icons Joni Mitchell (SC #2221b), Anne Murray (SC #2221c) and Paul Anka (SC #2221d). The issue followed the previous summer’s popular Canadians in Hollywood issue.

“Creating these stamps is Canada Post’s way of giving something back to these very talented artists, who have given so much to Canadians,” said Liz Wong, manager of stamp design and production at Canada Post, adding the four stamps were only the second Canada Post issue to honour living Canadians, the first being Oscar Peterson in 2005. “Trivia buffs may notice that living Canadians honoured on a postage stamp have something in common—they’ve all received the Order of Canada.”

The CD-shaped Canadian Recording Artists booklets—available with eight stamps—also put a new spin on this type of collectible. In addition, a souvenir sheet (SC #2221), official first-day cover and postcards were available.

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