Bluenose is 100 – a stamp celebration

Bluenose is 100 – a stamp celebration

Canada’s beloved Bluenose is 100 years old this March and of course, we’ll celebrate with a new stamp. The Bluenose issue will likely be unveiled in Feb, with a release date in March.

Designed to be both a fishing boat and a racing schooner, the Bluenose excelled in both roles.  It was the first boat designed by Halifax born W. J. Roué who became known as Canada’s premier naval architect. He designed over 200 vessels, including yachts, barges, ferries, freighters, and schooners.

The Bluenose, manned by its fishing crew and captained by Angus J. Walters, raced the best in the world. In its 17 years, the “queen of the North Atlantic” was beaten just once.

Bluenose Schooner in full sail - the Bluenose is 100

Bluenose Schooner in full sail. Photo 1921 Photographer: MacAskill, Wallace R., 1893-1956 courtesy Archives / Collections and Fonds

The original stamp 1929

High quality photo of 1929 Bluenose stamp

Bluenose Schooner – January 1929 | [Bluenose] [graphic material] / Based on photographs by W.R. MacAskill – Library and Archives Canada (
High quality photo. Click on stamp to see details

This stamp is instantly recognizable around the world. I remember when I acquired mine nearly 20 years ago. I still get excited every time I think back to that day. The ’29 Bluenose is one of those stamps every young Canadian collector dreams of owning. It’s a thing of beauty, in both subject and design. The level of detail in this small rectangle is staggering. Engraved by American Bank Note Company, New York City, the stamp was based on photos by Nova Scotian photographer Wallace R. MacAskill.

The stamp above is a high-quality photograph that will allow you zoom in and see the stunning detailed work.  From a design standpoint, this is as close to perfect as you can get.

Stamp essay showing bluenose, engraved border and black and white photo in middle

Bluenose specimen stamp 1928

Buried in the Canadian archives was this specimen. I have to say, I’m not sure which I prefer. The contrast of the deep blue and grey/black engraving is breathtaking. The use of grey/black gives the stamp a sense of photo-realism. It would be interesting to know why all blue was picked.

Bluenose stamp 1982

Original Bluenose stamp on a modern stamp

Stamp on a stamp

The International Philatelic Youth Exhibition in 1982 featured this stamp-on-stamp commemorative. This issue, part of a set showing classic Canadian stamps, was designed by Stuart Bradley Ash of the design firm Gottschalk+Ash . Ash was a legend in the design industry and was the man behind Canada’s centennial logo in 1967.

Canadian Centennial log showing stylized multicoloured maple leaf

Designed by Stuart Bradley Ash

1988 Bluenose and Captain Walters

1988 stamp showing Bluenose and Captain Walters

1988 Bluenose and Captain Walters

1988 finally saw Captain Walters honoured with a stamp. This one, designed by Roger Hill, doesn’t excite me; I find it bland. Given the thrill of captaining the schooner, I had hoped for a more vibrant addition to the Bluenose family.  I confess, I still haven’t picked it up for my collection. It’s a sound design, just lacks a sense of vigour.

1998 Roué and Bluenose stamp

Bluenose designer Roue and Bluenose

Roue and Bluenose 1998

The original stamp made a return in 1998 to honour Roué. Graphic designer Louis C. Hébert did an excellent job blending the classic engraving with a lithograph portrait of Roué.

Bluenose is 100 – the latest

This space is reserved for the new issue. As yet, it’s unknown who the designer is, or what the stamp will look like. I’m a bit torn. I’m fond of the 1929 version but after seeing it in 3 stamps to date, I’m hoping for something fresh. We’ll know soon.

Stamp design TBA

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Find out more about Canada’s 2021 stamp issues:

Awesome 2021 Canadian stamps announced

Amazing German FDC – Tag der Briefmarke 2020

Amazing German FDC – Tag der Briefmarke 2020

I acquired an impressive German FDC recently, courtesy of a fellow collector in Germany. He posted a message on a stamp collecting forum about a special Deutsche Post commemorative cancel honouring the Canadian army. He kindly sent 3 covers/postcards that had the cancel. What I didn’t expect was the FDC displayed below. It has 3 elements that make it one of the more attractive FDCs I’ve seen in years.

German FDC honouring the Canadian Army – Deutsche Post

Photo of a German FDC showing 2 Canadian soldiers in front of the Leer, Rathaus in 1945

2 Canadian soldiers in front of the Rathaus (townhall) in Leer, Germany

Deutsche post issued the First Day Cover (FDC) with a special cancel commemorating both the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and Canada’s role in liberating Leer, Germany. The cancel displays both the Leer Rathaus and the Canadian army badge. It’s a touching design.

Canadian army badge showing crossed swords and three maple leafs

Emblem of the Canadian army

It took some detective work to find details about both the cancel and the photo used on the FDC. I started with a (very) rough translation from the German FDC.

Original German:
Tag der Briefmarke  202075 Jahre Ende des 2 Weltkriegs1945 befreien kanadische Truppen die
Stadt und den Landkreis Leer
Verein der Briefmarkenfreunde
Leer E.V.
Rough translation:
Stamp Day 202075 years end of World War II

In 1945, Canadian troops liberated the
City and the district of Leer
Association of Stamp Friends
Leer E.V.

Leer is in the Northwest of Germany, across the river from Groningen province, Netherlands. When Canadian troops swept across the northern parts of Europe, they crossed the bridge from Groningen to Leer and liberated the city.

The cancel was created for the annual German-Dutch exchange day. Apologies for the following bad translation from the original German.

The traditional German-Dutch Exchange Day 2020 will take place on 26 September in Hesel.

The hall, which philatelists know from the Northwest German Collectors Exchange, held in 2019, is large enough, with an area of around 600 square metres, to allow all visitors to maintain the necessary safety distance.

Exchange and day of the stamp.
The village community house in Jemgum, (Germany) on the other hand, measures only 300 square meters. Therefore, the event had to move from Jemgum to Hesel. On September 26, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Leer stamp society will not only be inviting you to the Big Exchange Day, but also to the release of a cover, which this year is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the city by Canadian troops.

An “Experience Stamps” team will be there with the new “75 years of AM Post” stamp as well. The association will have available the cover containing both an historic photo and the AM stamp.

Contact: Oswald Janssen, Am Helling 11, 26802 Moormerland, Tel. 04954 / 6346, Oswald.Janssen (at), www:

Closeup of the special cancel

Scan of the special Leer/Hesel stamp cancel honouring the liberation of Leer

Excellent cancel showing the badge of the Canadian army


AM – Allied Military stamp on the German FDC

There was a pleasant surprise on the FDC – the commemorative AM stamp. It has been released for the upcoming 75-year anniversary of the original AM (Allied Military) post war stamps. AM stamps were issued after the fall of the Nazis, under the US and Great Britain forces. These general issues were in use from Feb. 1946 to June of 1948.

Reproduction of Allied Military stamp issued in Germany 1946

Modern stamp showing Allied Military stamp issued in Germany 1946

The originals are an interesting grouping to collect. Aside from the basic set, avid collectors can hunt for varieties in colours, types of paper, cancels, perforations, and plate numbers. They are mostly inexpensive and easy to find.

The Allies had set up a temporary postal service in the occupied German Reich, which could also be used for civil mail from March 1945. The “AM-POST” stamps (“Allied Military”) were the first stamps of the Allies on German soil at that time. They initially came from the USA (MiNr.: 1-9), later they were printed in England (MiNr.: 10-15) and Germany (MiNr.: 16-35). – Duetsche Post website

The “75 years of AM-POST-Brands” stamp came out Sept. 3, 2020, just prior to the release on Sept. 26, 2020 of the German FDC with the Canadian soldiers’ photo.

Canadian soldiers stand in the Leer city harbour

Photo of 2 Canadian soldiers standing near riverside in Leer, Germany, with Rathaus in background

Two Canadian soldiers stand in the city’s harbour after the conquest. Images: Dieter Simon, The End of the War 1945 in Leer, Verlag Schuster 1995

It was difficult to find any reference to the photo used in this German FDC. I found only one in an online newspaper from Germany. Beyond this one link, I couldn’t find anything else. I searched Canadian archives too, but nothing popped up.

This is a good find for any Canadian militaria collector as well as stamp fans, both German and Canadian.

New Mary Riter Hamilton stamp – Oct 28, 2020

New Mary Riter Hamilton stamp – Oct 28, 2020

Canada Post will honour Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton at the end of the month. Her 1919 painting Trenches of the Somme will appear on a permanent stamp Oct. 28, 2020.

War artist

It is fortunate that I arrived before it was too late to get a real impression. The first day I went over Vimy [Ridge], snow and sleet were falling, and I was able to realize what the soldiers had suffered. If as you and others tell me, there is something of the suffering and heroism of the war in my pictures it is because at that moment the spirit of those who fought and died seemed to linger in the air. Every splintered tree and scarred clod spoke of their sacrifice.

Since then, nature has been busy covering up the wounds, and in a few years the last sign of war will have disappeared. To have been able to preserve some memory of what this consecrated corner of the world looked like after the storm is a great privilege and all the reward an artist could hope for. Mary Riter Hamilton, Archives Canada

Photo of Mary Riter Hamilton, Canadian artist

Mary Riter Hamilton – courtesy Canadian Encyclopedia

Mary Riter Hamilton was an extraordinary war artist. Most think of war art as the exclusive domain of men but Riter Hamilton traveled to Europe, on behalf of the Amputation Club of British Columbia to document the devastating impact of the Great War. From 1919 to 1922 she traversed through trenches and visited some of the most heartbreaking sites and created a stunning record of the WW1. Her images of the trenches, cemeteries and destroyed buildings across France and Belgium were to be a testimony to what Canadian soldiers endured from 1914 – 1918.

Trenches on the Somme

Oil painting by Mary Riter Hamilton - Trenches on the Somme showing a WW1 Trench covered in poppies

Trenches on the Somme, 1919. Artist Mary Riter Hamilton Oil on commercial canvas board. 37.8 x 45.8. Courtesy Archives Canada

Although not an official war artist for the Canadian government, Riter Hamilton’s works appeared in The Gold Stripe a veteran’s magazine.  She created over 300 paintings, as well as chalk, pastel, and pencil drawings. She felt an urgency to “… paint the scenes where so many of our gallant Canadians have fought and died.” (Mary Riter Hamilton, Western Women’s Weekly, February 1, 1919)

Riter Hamilton donated 180 works to the government of Canada in later years. She believed her WW1 work should be available to the Canadian people and stay in Canada.

Mary Riter Hamilton stamp – Oct 28, 2020

Canada Post has created a great memorial to both Riter Hamilton and the Great War, for Remembrance Day. The poppies scattered along a trench in the Somme is both beautiful and devastatingly sad.

Photo of Mary Riter Hamilton stamp

Booklet set of Mary Riter Hamilton’s Trenches of the Somme

Check out Canada Post’s website to purchase the Mary Riter Hamilton booklet or see if your local postal outlet has them available as of the 28th.

6 new Canadian stamps – celebrating Canadians in Flight

6 new Canadian stamps – celebrating Canadians in Flight

Canada Post’s latest release, Canadians in Flight honours 5 significant Canadians and Canadian creations. This has to be my favourite subjects – Canadian history & pioneer flight.  There are 5 stamps, a booklet, souvenir sheet and 5 covers to in the set.

Close up of 5 stamps from Canadians in Flight

Stamps from the Canadians in Flight booklet

Starting at the top left and working across:

Elsie MacGill – The Queen of the Hurricanes

Elsie MacGill, the underappreciated hero of aeronautical engineering, feminist and all around amazing Canadian. She was a woman of many firsts – 1st female graduate of electrical engineering at U of T, 1st woman to earn a Master’s in aeronautical engineering, 1st female practicing engineering in Canada, when recovering from polio MacGill designed airplanes and wrote articles about aviation, rode along with test pilots to observe her designs in flight, chief aeronautical engineer at Canadian Car & Foundry, headed the Canadian production of the Hawker Hurricane fighter planes in WW2, feminist activist, commissioner on the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and tireless advocate for women’s rights1.

How bad ass was Elsie MacGill? She had a comic book written about her in 1942 called Queen of the Hurricanes – Elsie MacGill. MacGill was the Queen of Badass Women. Not enough Canadians are taught about her contributions to engineering, aviation and feminism so this is a long overdue tribute to a great Canadian.

Page from 1942 comic - Elsie McGill, Queen of the Hurricanes Image courtesy Roberta Bondar Foundation

1942 comic – Elsie MacGill, Queen of the Hurricanes

William George Barker, VC

Next is William George Barker, VC, enlisted as a private in the Canadian army, ended his career as a Wing Commander in the new RCAF. The lad from Dauphin, Manitoba who went on to be a WW1 Royal Flying Corp and RCAF pilot, businessman and the most decorated serviceman in Canadian history. Barker was one of those legendary fighter pilots that emerged from WW1, a small town prairie boy who became larger than life because of a war they were tossed into. Here’s an excerpt from the Barker’s official military records2:

William George Barker's service record note about his Victoria Cross win

William George Barker’s service record note about his Victoria Cross win

William George Barker's service record note about his Victoria Cross win

Second page from William George Barker’s service record note about his Victoria Cross win

Photo of memorial to William Barker at Mount Pleasant Cemetery Toronto. SHows two memorial plaques and a propellor

Memorial to William Barker at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto

Bush Pilot Punch Dickins

C. H. Punch Dickins, another flier from the prairies, was one of Canada’s great bush pilots. After WW1 ended, many pilots bought decommissioned biplanes and headed north to carry freight, mail and passengers to remote towns and mining camps that dotted the Canadian north3.

In Canada, the word “bush” has been used since the 19th century to describe the hostile environment beyond the clearings and settlements. In bush flying it has been used to refer to flying in adverse, if not hostile, conditions in the remote expanses beyond the ribbon of settlement in southern Canada, into the “bush” of the Canadian Shield and the barren Arctic. By the end of WWI most of southern Canada had been linked by railways, but the North remained as inaccessible as ever by land. Its innumerable lakes and rivers did, however, provide alighting areas for water-based aircraft in summer and ski-equipped aircraft in winter.  Bush Flying | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Punch Dickins  cut his teeth fighting on the Western Front, serving in the RFC and later RCAF.  After the war, he flew to remote locations surveying over 10,000 miles of northern Canada for Western Canadian Airlines.

Scan of a Western Canadian Airways airmail stamp

Western Canadian Airways Semi-official stamp

Western Canadian was one of the companies allowed to print stamps and collect money for the delivery of mail to remote locations. Punch delivered the first mail to the NWTs for WCA.  By the end of his career, Dickins flew over 1.6 million miles across the northern Canada.

Avro Arrow

On the second row is the Avro Arrow, continuing Canada’s fascination with the best aircraft that never got a chance. A Canadian designed fighter craft capable of flying 2x the speed of sound, but buried and sunk in Lake Ontario for political reasons. The cancellation of the Avro is still considered a national scandal 60 years later and hotly argued about.

Ultraflight Lazair

And finishing out this set is the nibble twin engine Ultraflight Lazair, a Canadian designed ultralight craft that still buzzes around the skies5.  Between 1979 and 84, over 2000 were built and sold for under $5000 US. It is considered one of the most successful aircrafts sold in Canada.

This is an OUTSTANDING set. I rushed out and bought the booklet and souvenir sheet the morning they were released. The covers were missing in action everywhere I looked. so it looks like they’ll have to be ordered from the Canada Post website. The booklet of 10 stamps costs $9.50 CDN as does the set of 5 covers.  The souvenir sheet of 5 stamps costs $4.50.

Hats off to designer Ivan Novotny6 of Taylor | Sprules Corporation for this beautiful set.

Scan of new Canadian stamps showing Elsie McGill, William George Barker VC, Ultralight craft, Avro Arrow and Punch Dickens

Canadians in Flight 2019 spring Canadian stamp release booklet

Canadians in Flight booklet back cover

Canadians in Flight booklet backside


Canadians in flight souvenir sheet - front showing stamps

Canadians in Flight souvenir sheet

Notes & further reading on the people on these Canadian stamps :

1 – To learn more about Elsie MacGill start with the Canadian Encyclopedia entry
Vintage Wings – The Queen of the Hurricanes includes photos of airplanes MacGill designed
Pick up the book Queen of the Hurricanes by Crystal Sissons, published 2014 by Second Story Press.  ISBN: 9781927583531 for paperback and 9781927583579 for hardbound editions. Or check your local library
Comic image courtesy Roberta Bondar Foundation

2 –  Read more about William George Barker at the Canadian Encyclopedia
There are many books written about Barker, one of the best is William Barker VC – The Life, Death & Legend of Canada’s Most Decorated War Hero by Ralph Wayne 2007. Published by Wiley Press ISBN 9780470839676
Archives Canada has digitized his WW1 service records and you can download and read them here:
The Aerodrome’s page on Barker will give you a thumbnail view.
Today in Ottawa’s History – The tragic death of Lieutenant Colonel William Barker VC 
Canadian Biography 

3 – Learn more about Canada’s bush pilots at the Canadian Encyclopedia
Historic Wings entry on Punch Dickins
There are a number of websites devoted to the bush pilots and the planes they flew including Bush Plane 
And of course don’t forget Canadian Encyclopedia’s entry on Dickins

4 – Avro Arrow’s development and short life is well documented. I’d start with Canadian Encyclopedia’s brief history
CBC’s Avro Arrow – Canada’s greatest plane that never was is a fascinating read
After years of speculation and searching, the Avro model was located in 2017 at the bottom of Lake Ontario. This story is behind a paywall, but the first couple of articles are free
CTV has an interesting article on the mystery surrounding the destruction of the Avro

5 – A little bit of information can be found at the Lazair website and the Wikipedia page

6 – Interview with Ivan Novotny

How about some more fun with this day in history – Wolfe & Montcalm

How about some more fun with this day in history – Wolfe & Montcalm

I was poking around a few history websites yesterday and discovered it’s the anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.  Ah hah! I’ve separated the Canadians from the herd, haven’t I? Any one who attended school in Canada will instantly recognise the significance. This battle was one of the seminal points of the Seven Years War which saw New France surrendered to British control.  This watershed moment in history set the stage for the American Revolution and the formation of Canada over 100 years later. 

Mock newspaper about the Battle of Abraham PlainsI’ve had some fun wondering how modern news outlet would cover the wars. Now my take is decidedly low key. I’ve played around with a News of the World style cover, but can’t quite bring myself to actually post it. It ended up a little bit rude.  Funnier than hell, but incredibly offensive. I’ll work on tempering it for later posts. This turned into an amusing little project so I’ll periodically post them when a historical date tweaks me.  

Want to read more about the Seven Years War?  

Canadian War Museum  – Clash of Empires and The Battle of the Plains of Abraham
The Canadian Encyclopedia has an excellent entry – Seven Years’ War 
The Gov of Canada’s Battlefield Commission has a page on the Battle – Battle of the Plains of Abraham 
Quebec City and area site – Battlefield Park 

Check your local library and ask the librarian to recommend a few books for you.  
Start with Northern Armageddon: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham by Dr. Peter MacLeod, an historian with the Canadian War Museum. 

Attributed to Joseph Highmore – Bonhams, Public Domain,
Antoine Louis François Sergent dit Sergent-Marceau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons