Philatelists from southwestern Manitoba celebrated one of their province’s founding fathers—and one of Canada’s polarizing figures—on Louis Riel Day earlier this month.
The Prairie Mountain Philatelic Society hosted its annual winter show and sale on Feb. 18, coinciding with the day commemorating the passionate Métis leader and founder of Canada’s fifth province, Manitoba, which joined Confederation in 1870.
In 2007, the province’s legislature established a statutory holiday on the third Monday in February—the same day other provinces celebrate Family Day. The first Louis Riel Day was celebrated in Manitoba on Feb. 18, 2008.
Among the show’s highlights was a display of Riel stamps assembled by Donna Boles, founder and current president of the Prairie Mountain Philatelic Society.
In 1970, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) issued its first stamp honouring Riel, marking the centennial of the height of his political career.
This year, Canada Post will relive the Red River Resistance and the founding of Manitoba with a new stamp, the scope of which “has yet to be determined,” said Director of Stamp Services Jim Phillips, adding it “hasn’t been to the Stamp Advisory Committee as a design.”
“It’s a complex issue, but we’re working on all of that right now.”
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Red River Resistance, which saw the establishment of a provisional government by Riel and his followers at the Red River Colony. Riel “will potentially be on a stamp,” Phillips said, “but nothing has been decided yet.”
Founded in 2017, the Prairie Mountain Philatelic Society now boasts more than 20 members, most of who hail from rural Manitoba.