Canada Post issues April, May stamps, postpones ballet, travel posters

By Jesse Robitaille

While Canada Post’s next four stamp issues – slated for release in April and May – are going ahead as planned, its upcoming sets featuring ballet legends and vintage travel posters are postponed.

One of the April issues, this marking Eid, was released on April 24 while another pair of stamps honouring Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day) is slated for release tomorrow, April 29. Looking ahead to the next two issues of the 2020 stamp program, Canada Post is also expected to issue sets commemorating the Group of Seven on May 7 and the history of radio on May 20. No unveiling ceremonies will be held for any of the four issues scheduled for release in April and May.

“We will, however, continue to issue news releases for each issue and provide collectors additional content,” Nicole Lecompte, Canada Post media relations officer, told CSN in mid-April.

This additional content includes a V-E Day video to be released on the stamp’s April 29 issue date via canadapost.ca/magazine.

Anver Emon, director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto, worked with Canada Post to ensure the accuracy of the Eid stamp.

EID STAMP MARKS  MUSLIM HOLIDAYS

Following its first-ever Eid stamp issued in 2017, Canada Post has once again honoured Islam’s most important holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are celebrated by Muslims around the world, including in Canada, where more than one million Muslims make up about three per cent of the population.

Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan – the month in which Muslims fast from dawn until dusk – begins on the evening of May 23 in Canada this year.

Eid al-Adha (or the Festival of Sacrifice, when Muslims commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God) begins July 30 in Canada. The festival also marks the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in Islam.

On the new Permanent stamp, which was designed by Lionel Gadoury, Dave Hurds and Muneeb Khatana, of Toronto’s Context Creative, the traditional greeting of “Eid Mubarak” (or “have a blessed Eid” in English) is presented in Arabic calligraphy. The calligraphy was produced by Nayla Yehia, also of Context Creative.

A stamp and first-day cover (shown) honouring Islam’s most important holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, were issued on April 24 by Canada Post.

“These festivals are times for celebration and spiritual reflection,” Anver Emon, director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto, is quoted as saying in Canada Post’s latest edition of Details, published digitally today.

Emon assisted Canada Post with ensuring the accuracy of the Eid issue.

“It is a pleasure to see Canada Post mark these important occasions with a stamp that wishes all Canadians a blessed Eid.”

Printed by Lowe-Martin using six-colour lithography and tagging along three sides, the new issue is available in 10-stamp booklets. A total of 130,000 booklets (1.3 million stamps) were printed.

The issue also includes 7,000 official first-day covers (OFDCs), each of which is serviced with a Toronto cancel.

In April 1945, Major ‘singlehandedly tricked the enemy into thinking they were under a full attack, capturing dozens of prisoners and forcing the Germans to retreat,’ Canada Post said. The heroic move earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

75TH ANNIVERSARY OF V-E DAY

Two stamps marking the 75th anniversary of V-E Day will also be issued by Canada Post on April 29.

In April 1945, Allied forces took 1.5 million Axis prisoners on the Western Front while beginning to liberate Nazi concentration camps and their refugees. By the end of that month, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his so-called Führerbunker, where he was hiding since January. About a week later, on May 8, 1945, Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered to Allied forces, ending the Second World War in Europe.

“To those whose minds travelled backwards, to the end of another war nearly 27 years ago, the silencing of the guns in Europe this time brought release from bondage of the spirit,” reads a story published May 8, 1945, by the Globe and Mail.

“And to those whose span of years fall between two wars, the -day of days meant noise and more, noise, snake dances, the waving of flags, the complete surrender to boisterous celebration.”

Foster, who assembled Bren machine guns in a Toronto factory during the Second World War, was the face of the ‘Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl’ campaign.

In Toronto, this included “laughter and tears, a medley of noises welling up to a blue sky, ticker tape glinting earthward from office buildings, the blare of horns, the roar of planes overhead, flags and bunting fluttering in the spring breeze, open church doors and prayers,” according to the Globe story.

The new V-E Day stamps “symbolically honour” every Canadian who served overseas and on the home front during the Second World War, according to Canada Post.

Designed by Toronto’s Ivan Novotny, the Permanent stamps highlight Private Léo Major, who fought to liberate the Netherlands, and factory worker Veronica Foster, who helped recruit women to the wartime workforce.

“Together, they represent the more than two million Canadians who played a key role in the Allied victory,” according to Details.

Born in 1921 to French-Canadian parents in New Bedford, Mass., Major moved with his family to Montreal before he turned a year old. Later in life, he became the only Canadian – and one of only three soldiers in the entire British Commonwealth – to receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice in separate wars (once in the Second World War and again in the Korean War).

Foster (left) and Major (right) are also depicted in the first-day cancellations printed on the issue’s official first-day covers.

Meanwhile, Foster – born in Montréal in 1922 – was 19 years old when the National Film Board (NFB) chose to feature her on recruitment posters focused on enlisting Canadian women. Later known as “Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl,” Foster “became a Canadian icon representing female workers in the manufacturing industry,” according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Printed by Lowe-Martin using four-colour lithography, the new issue is available in booklets of 10 stamps (with five of each design). A total of 130,000 booklets (1.3 million stamps) were issued.

In the booklet’s credits, Canada Post misspelled the name of Eric Fernberg, collections manager for dress and insignia at the Canadian War Museum.

“We sincerely apologize for this error and reiterate our thanks to Eric Fernberg and his colleagues for their ongoing generosity of time and expertise in supporting our work,” reads a statement issued in Details.

A total of 14,000 OFDCs – 7,000 of each design – were also issued as part of the V-E Day set. They’re serviced with cancels from Montréal (for Major) and Toronto (for Foster).

Some stamps may be unavailable at some post offices and other stamp-selling retail outlets, according to Canada Post.

NOT AVAILABLE AT ALL OUTLETS, ORDERS DELAYED ‘SEVERAL WEEKS’

While the April and May issues will be released on their original issue dates, they may be unavailable at some post offices and other stamp-selling retail outlets.

“Since temporary changes have been made to how stamps are distributed to postal outlets, there is no guarantee that new issues will be available at all retail sites,” reads the latest edition of Details.

While collectors are also able to order stamps online via canadapost.ca/shop, the shipping of April standing orders will be delayed “for several weeks.”

The next edition of Details – slated for May 7 – will also be published online only, Lecompte said.

While Details is usually issued every month or every other month, fewer editions will be published “until the COVID-19 crisis has passed,” she added.

TWO SETS POSTPONED

Beyond May, the issue dates of Canada Post’s forthcoming stamps are still undecided (except for the annual Canada Post Community Foundation semi-postal stamp, which is due out on Sept. 21).

Originally scheduled for a spring release, the “Legends of Canadian Ballet” issue is “postponed to a later date,” Lecompte told CSN.

The “Vintage Travel Posters” issue – originally slated for June 30 – is also postponed until 2021.

Other issues announced earlier this year as part of Canada Post’s 2020 stamp program include:

  • a stamp honouring the history, culture and contributions of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities;
  • a five-stamp set celebrating “medical groundbreakers” and their life-saving contributions as healthcare researchers;
  • a stamp featuring an evocative work by First World War artist Mary Riter Hamilton; and
  • stamps marking Diwali, Hanukkah and the Christmas holidays, with stamps featuring traditional scenes of the Nativity plus the colourful folk art of Nova Scotia’s Maud Lewis.

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