South Korean stamps honour Canadian veteran

South Korea has issued postage stamps honouring a Canadian veteran of the Korean War. The stamps were unveiled June 22, but commemorate the 100th birthday on July 5 of Maj. Campbell Lane, the oldest Commonwealth veteran of the conflict, which took place from 1950 to 1953. At a brief ceremony in Ottawa, where Lane lives, a citation was read from South Korean Veterans Minister Park Sung Choon. “To our knowledge, no other Commonwealth veteran has achieved this most impressive milestone,” it stated. “The 49 million people of Korea send him 49 million wishes for a most happy birthday.” Continue reading →

Irv knows the stamps of tomorrow are invested in young artists of today

Irv Osterer is to be commended for challenging high school students to design stamps and related products. While it is debatable how many, if any, of his young charges will actually turn into commercial stamp artists or collectors, he nonetheless is reaching out to a group of young people. As a parent, I know that many of these people not only don’t collect stamps, they don’t even use them. What’s more, with regular post offices closing all over Canada, I doubt many young people even know where to buy a stamp. This is all just a sign of the times. Continue reading →

Students create philatelic tribute to Jack Layton

The Grade 11 students had to research not only Layton’s distinctive look, but also the challenges in creating art for an image as tiny as a stamp. The students had their choice of media, ranging from watercolour to caricature. The finished designs were then treated digitally, to create the final stamp representations. Students also created cancellation, first-day cover (FDC), and booklet designs. The FDC “cancels” are marked July 18, Layton’s birthday. The project proved an interesting one at a time when many youngsters have never even used postage stamps. Continue reading →

Station K closure a sign of the times

On one level is the fact that the Station K building is unique in that the royal cipher ER over the doorway is actually ER VIII, or King Edward VIII. Most of us know him better as the Duke of Windsor, the man who became King of England in the 1930s, and then abdicated to marry the woman he loved, a divorced American commoner. The Brits are pretty tolerant of their royalty, but apparently do have a three-strike rule. Although never actually crowned king, Edward did rule for a short period of time. During that time, Canada Post built Station K, and put his cipher over the door. It is, I am told, the only post office and possibly the only public building in Canada to bear this distinction. Continue reading →

Royal Mail paints the country gold

Just hours into the Olympic Games, the Royal Mail issued new stamps to celebrate six gold medals Britain had won in London. Won on a Saturday, the stamps were on sale the following Sunday at selected post offices. It is the first time the mother of all posts has issued stamps honouring individual athletes, and only the third time a host nation has issued individual Olympic gold medal stamps. The stamps are offered at more than 500 post office branches, all of which will remain open on Sundays during the Games, the first time Royal Mail branches have been open on any Sunday. Continue reading →

Weekend warriors deserve as much honour as any soldier

What makes the honouring of these regiments is that while the Canadian army did maintain two regular force Black Watch battalions for a few years, today these regiments are made up of citizen soldiers. Sometimes – and not always affectionately – referred to as weekend warriors. These young men and women train evenings and weekends, for them the army is a part-time job or hobby. It is a tradition that goes back a long time. Canada had an active militia even before the War of 1812. Since then, in every crisis, the part-time soldier has been called on time and time again. Sometimes, such as in the Second World War, entire units have been activated; other times, such as Afghanistan, much smaller units, or even individuals, have been called upon. Continue reading →

Picture postage line gets jazzed up in time for holidays

Canada Post has jazzed up the picture postage line up with new formats, new values, and new frames. In fact, nearly 100 new value and format combinations now exist. According to the Crown corporation, picture postage is now available with 12 new designs and three new formats. Canadians can choose between permanent domestic rate, United States rate, international rate, and oversize rate. As for formats, the stamps are now offered in sheets of 25 stamps plus a souvenir sheet of 50, a sheet of 50, and in booklets of 12 stamps. The new booklet format allows customers to have a different image on the cover than on the stamps, and has a personalized caption. Continue reading →

New British stamps probe the depths of our solar system

Although never really considered a member of the space club, the United Kingdom has issued a set of stamps marking that nation’s role in the exploration of space. The stamps, released Oct. 18, are exciting in that they show images of the solar system taken from European Space Agency probes, partly funded by Britain. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first British satellite, Ariel 1, launched April 26, 1962 from Cape Canaveral. All six of the Ariel satellites, used for research of the ionosphere and cosmic X-rays, were launched from Cape Canaveral. Britain did launch one satellite, Prospero, from a site in Australia busing the British Black Arrow launch vehicle. After that the British abandoned efforts to create their own launch vehicle and have launched satellites by contracting the services to NASA. Continue reading →

Even non-collectors must admit these stamps are far out

On a clear night, you can look up and see most of the planets, if you know where to look, with your naked eyes. If you do it often, they become familiar enough that you begin to recognize them without thinking. Jupiter in its glory, blazing Venus, and even Saturn are not that hard to spot, but sometimes elusive in our world of light and atmospheric pollution. Nothing I ever saw prepared me for these dramatic images. What makes it exciting is that these stamps show images of the planets that could never be seen by an earthbound observer. This is the way the solar system looks to us as we begin to explore our tiny section of the cosmos. Continue reading →

War of 1812 myths persist

While I write this, the government’s events to mark the War of 1812 are kicking into high gear. This fall marks a few key events: the captures of Fort Mackinaw and Detroit by Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, and the repulsion of an American invasion at the Battle of Queenston Heights. Of course the war wasn’t over in just two months. Most operations were confined to Upper Canada; essentially modern-day Ontario. In a series of campaigns fought mostly during the summer months, Britain and America battled for control of Canada. Today, the war is 200 years into the past, and both sides claim victory. As funny as it sounds, that may even be true. The war ended, not with a total victory on one side, but with a treaty. Continue reading →

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