OTD: Canada Post marks 150 years since University of Ottawa’s founding

On today’s date in 1998, Canada Post marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the University of Ottawa with a 45-cent commemorative stamp (Scott #1756).

The oldest and largest bilingual university in North America, the University of Ottawa is recognized around the world as a centre of academic excellence. It was founded in 1848 by the Oblate Fathers as the College of Bytown, a small Catholic school with 60 students, and gained university status 20 years later; however, it was staffed mainly by Oblates until the early 1930s.

Today, the university only has a few clergymen as part of its full-time faculty. Since 1965, when the university became a provincially funded institution, the school has been non-denominational.

Now with an annual enrolment of more than 42,500 students, “U of O” – as it’s referred to locally – has become a vibrant learning centre and an important contributor to the cultural and economic development of Canada’s capital. Distinct in its bilingual character, the university strives to develop and maintain the widest possible range of teaching and research in both French and English.

The university's administration building, Tabaret Hall,

The university’s administration building, Tabaret Hall (shown above), is depicted on the 1998 stamp.

The school has also earned international recognition as a hub for research breakthroughs, including the isolation and identification of the defective gene that causes myotonic muscular dystrophy. Internationally, more than 100 bilateral agreements with governments, research institutes and universities throughout the world have given the University of Ottawa access to scholarships as well as student and faculty exchanges.


Designed by Toronto’s Harris Design Associates, the 1998 “U of O” stamp features an image of Tabaret Hall, the university’s administration building, which was named after one of its first and arguably most influential administrators, Father Joseph-Henri Tabaret.

A highly chromatic photograph of Tabaret Hall taken by photographer Michael Rafelson captures the late afternoon light on an early-autumn day, around the time of the start of a new school year. The school’s coat of arms’ colours – maroon and gold – are incorporated into the stamp’s denomination. Its coat of arms is illustrated in the four corners of the pane selvage as two open books representing teaching and research; fleurs-de-lis trilliums; and two silver horses, which are symbols of dignity, wisdom and spirit, and of the university’s tradition of excellence in sports, respectively.

Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company on Tullis Russell coated paper, the stamp had general tagging along each side. It had a print run of 7,000,000.

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