Canada Post has marked on a new stamp the 100th anniversary of the official adoption of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance in Canada.
The new issue coincides with the launch of the Royal Canadian Legion’s National Poppy Campaign, which begins on the last Friday of October each year.
“The concept behind this special stamp was not only to immortalize the crimson flower but also to give Canadians another way to honour the more than 117,000 Canadians who have died in service to their country,” said Canada Post media relations manager Eunice Machuhi.
Canada Post has a long history of commemorating Remembrance Day and Canada’s military history through its stamp program. The Legion’s annual campaign is a highly visible way for Canadians to honour veterans and those who have fallen in Canada’s military.
While the poppy is distributed freely, the Legion accepts donations to the Poppy Fund. Money raised helps to provide veterans and their families with financial assistance and other support. Millions of poppies are distributed in Canada every year, raising close to $20 million annually.
During the First World War, the appearance of the bright red flowers on the battlefields in France and Belgium inspired Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, of Guelph, Ont., to pen the poem “In Flanders Fields” in May 1915.
It came after he lost a friend in the Second Battle of Ypres.
Moved by his words, a number of women and charities began to create poppies made of fabric as a memorial and to raise funds for veterans and families of the fallen. The Great War Veterans’ Association of Canada (the Legion’s predecessor) officially adopted the poppy as a symbol of remembrance on July 6, 1921.
Canada’s first National Poppy Campaign launched later that year.
Blair Thomson, the founder and creative director of “Believe in,” a design agency with studios in Canada and the United Kingdom, designed the new poppy stamp.
Toronto’s Colour Innovations printed the stamp, whose red ink matches the poppy’s crimson while metallic ink is used for the pinhead. A stark white background provides contrast.
The poppy issue is available in 10-stamp booklets and on an official first-day cover (OFDC).
The OFDC’s pictorial cancellation features a stylized “100” to mark the poppy’s centennial as a remembrance symbol.