New Issue: Semi-postal coming later this month

A new semi-postal stamp will be issued by Canada Post as part of its ongoing Community Foundation series later this month.

The stamp, to be issued Sept. 24, will pay the domestic letter rate—currently 85 cents—and has a 10-cent surcharge to support the fundraising initiative. The surcharge is indicated by “+10” following the “P” symbol, which represents the non-denominated Permanent rate.

“Your dollar donation for a booklet of 10 stamps and 10 cents for the Official First Day Cover goes directly to support Canadian children and youth, through the funding of programs for breakfast, anti-bullying, special education, camps for children fighting illness, early literacy and other programs,” reads the latest issue of Canada Post’s Details magazine.

The stamp was illustrated by Julie Morstad, one of Canada’s top illustrators of children’s books, and designed by Matthew Warburton, of Emdoubleyu Design.

“Everyone can recall days from their childhood, spending a hot summer afternoon lying in the grass looking up at the clouds rolling by. This design recreates that feeling of freedom, wonderment and joy with a child sitting on a grassy, flower-speckled hilltop, looking up at the sky and seeing animal shapes in the fluffy clouds,” said Warburton, of the inspiration behind the stamp.


Last year, the Canada Post Community Foundation provided $1.1 million in funding to grassroots and community-based child and youth organizations across the country. More than 100 organizations delivering essential programs for children and youth shared the funding.

“In the past six years, the Foundation has provided more than $6 million to build libraries, create sports and breakfast programs, and ensure access to crisis lines, anti-bullying and mental health initiatives, special needs clinics and life-skills training,” reads the Community Foundation website. “The money has helped promote physical activity and play for children of all abilities and helped at-risk youth gain a better understanding of how education is vital to their future. The Foundation is truly delivering a brighter future for Canadian children and youth.”

Printed by Lowe-Martin in four-colour offset lithography, this year’s semi-postals will be issued in 160,000 self-adhesive 10-stamp booklets.


In North America, Canada was the first nation to issue semi-postals with a series of four stamps issued between 1974 and 1976 to support the Montreal Summer Olympic Games, which were held in 1976.

The government of Canada committed to paying for the games by selling semi-postal stamps as well as collector coins. At one point, Postmaster General Andre Ouellete predicted sales to collectors alone would be sufficient to pay for the games.

The first series (Scott #B1-B3), was issued on April 17, 1974, and consisted of three stamps sharing a similar design, a series of Olympic rings forming the Montreal Games logo. Designer Alois Matanovic used the design with three background colours representing the Olympic medals. The stamps were valued at 8+2 cents for bronze, 10+5 cents for silver, and 15+5 cents for gold. The stamps were printed by Ashton-Potter. The post office ambitiously ordered more than 118 million stamps.

The second series was issued in 1975 with decidedly lower production figures.

The Water Sports series was introduced on Feb. 8 and consisted of three stamps with the same values as the earlier series. The multi-colour stamps, (SC #B4-B6) designed by Hal Wallis, showed Swimming, 8+2 cents; rowing, 10+5 cents, and sailing, 15+5 cents. The total production, by Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN), was 64 million stamps.

On Aug. 6, a further three stamps were issued commemorating combat sports (SC #B7-B9).

Designed by James Hill, the three stamps showed dramatic views of individual athletes. The commemorated sports were fending, 8+2 cents; boxing, 10+5 cents; and judo, 15+5 cents. CBN again printed the issue, with total production of 53,000 stamps.

On Jan. 7, 1976, just six months before the games were to start; a final three stamps were issued (SC #B10-B12). Again designed by Hill, the stamps honoured team sports but again concentrated on images of individual athletes. The three sports honoured were basketball, 8+2 cents; gymnastics, 10+5 cents; and soccer, with a new value of 20+5 cents. They were printed by Ashton-Potter with a total production of 39 million stamps.

Even if all the stamps had been sold, the total money raised would have fallen far short of the more than $10 billion the games eventually cost.

After that, Canada Post stayed away from semi-postal stamps for another two decades.

This year’s official first-day cover will be cancelled in Ottawa.

In 1996, a new stamp was issued to support ABC Canada’s family literacy programs (SC #B12).

Designed by Debbie Adams, the stamp showed a pair of hands putting together a puzzle, and the inscription “Literacy begins at home” in both English and French. The innovative design had a die-cut hole in the centre, representing the missing part of the puzzle.

It had a value of 45+5 cents and was produced in 10-stamp booklet panes. Ashton-Potter produced 10 million stamps.

In 2007 Moya Greene, then president of Canada Post, rolled out a new series of semi-postals issued to support mental health programs. Rather than select a specific charity, the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health was created.

As a way of engaging Canadians, Canada Post launched a public competition both in the design and design selection process. The first stamp in the series was issued in 2008.

The stamps were printed by the Ottawa firm of Lowe-Martin and had the then-new Permanent rate with a 10-cent surcharge.

In 2012 the program was changed to support a new foundation, the Canada Post Community Foundation. Semi-postal stamps continue to be a significant portion of its funding.

Production of the stamps has been low, starting at 10 million and dropping to a 10th of that in recent years.

Printed by Lowe-Martin in four-colour offset lithography, this year’s semi-postals will be issued in 160,000 self-adhesive 10-stamp booklets. Each stamp measures 24 millimetres by 32 millimetres. A total of 7,000 official first-day covers will also be cancelled in Ottawa.

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