Suggest a theme, or forever hold your peace

By Jesse Robitaille

Every so often, I hear blowback from collectors about Canadian stamp themes.

Surely, this philatelic discontent can trace its roots rather far—perhaps back to 1851, when an industrious beaver became the first non-monarch to sit in the distinguished seat of a postage stamp.

But with the sneering dissatisfaction of Canadian stamp themes discussed by some collectors year after year, it’s important to remember a few things.

Firstly, the majority of Canadian stamp themes are born in the minds of the general public; that is to say most of Canada’s stamps start as suggestions from people like you and me (and institutions, associations or other interest groups). Simply put, you have a voice—use it.

Secondly, it’s impossible to please everyone. The most common argument I hear from the disaffected is this: Why does Canada Post issue so many stamps with the same general themes – whether plants, animals or scenery – while seemingly ignoring this other, “truly important” theme?

It comes down to the ability – or inherent inability – for a limited stamp program to accommodate an unlimited amount of ideas, each purported to be “truly important” by their supporters. As collectors generally call for fewer issues each year, there’s an infinite number of themes that could recognize the Canadian experience in any given calendar year. Not all potential themes are equal—and that includes their reach, visibility and profitability.

So thirdly, the malcontents among us must remember those birds-and-bees-style stamps (no, not that kind) are bonafide money-makers for a Crown corporation that’s in a serious transition.

Lastly, Canada Post’s Stamp Advisory Committee works about two years in advance. This means next year’s stamp program was conceived in 2018.

For your ideas to be taken seriously, you’ll need to plan ahead. If you want to see a stamp issued to mark the 2021 Canada Summer Games, for example, you have better already made your suggestion to Canada Post by now.

A word for the wise: start planning now for Canada’s 2022 stamp program, which lines up nicely with an international show slated to be held in Canada that year.

All stamp subject suggestions should be directed to:

Chairperson of the Stamp Advisory Committee
Canada Post Corporation
2701 Riverside Dr., Suite N1070
Ottawa ON K1A 0B1

“Canada Post is proud of its role as Canada’s storyteller,” reads a statement issued by the Crown corporation this September. “The independent Stamp Advisory Committee, which recommends the subjects for our annual stamp program, relies on thoughtful input from groups and individuals to ensure that our choices are meaningful to Canadians.”

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