On today’s date in 1963, the Government of Canada shipped 50,000 doses of life-saving polio vaccine to Barbados.
In 2005, Canada Post issued a multi-coloured 50-cent stamp (Scott #2120) as part of its Polio Vaccination issue. The domestic-rate stamp marked the 50th anniversary of Canada’s program of universal polio vaccination. Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company on Tullis Russell coated paper using eight-colour lithography, the stamps have general tagging along each side and were issued in panes of 16 stamps, each of which measures 35 mm x 48 mm (horizontal). An official first-day cover was also cancelled in Ottawa.
“We didn’t want a sombre message,” said Liz Wong, manager of stamp design and production at Canada Post. “We wanted to focus on the benefits that exist now. It’s something to celebrate.”
Toronto graphic designer Debbie Adams hoped to create a positive image in celebration of the polio vaccine and realized she needed to talk about success, “and that success,” she said, “is really all about children.”
Polio epidemics ravaged North America leading up the middle of the 20th century. For parents, polio was a dreaded disease that could steal a child’s life or leave a child permanently paralyzed.
“This stamp features colourful silhouettes of six children, three girls and three boys of various ages, jumping and playing,” said Adams. “It illustrates in a positive way that, as a result of the polio vaccine, children are free from the fear of contracting this debilitating disease.”
A pair of discarded leg braces serves as a reminder of what life was like before the vaccine.
“The reality of 3-D crutches cast off in a corner of the stamp, as though tossed aside, juxtaposed with the silhouette of children playing raucously, with one image and colour leading into the next, makes an interesting contrast,” she added.