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

It’s a wrap! Canada’s 2021 Lunar New Year Stamps

It’s a wrap! Canada’s 2021 Lunar New Year Stamps

Canada’s 2021 Lunar New Year stamps will wrap up the New Year’s series that started in 2009. This last issue in the cycle goes on sale January 15, 2021 and is available for pre-sale orders now at Canada Post’s online store Latest stamps | New in store | Canada Post. This set beautifully ties the complete collection together.  In one souvenir sheet, the collector can see 12 years’ worth of stamp designs.

Canada’s 2021 Lunar New Year stamps

All years are displayed – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. It’s a terrific way to end a long running series.

Scan of Canada's 2021 Lunar New Year Stamps showing 12 years worth of stamps

Canada 2021 Lunar New Year Stamps souvenir sheet

Booklet format and single permanent stamps.

Canada Post's Lunar New Year stamps

Lunar New Year cycle wraps up

Canada’s 2021 Lunar New Year stamps designed by Paprika Design

Paprika Design created this retrospective issue. Their work should be familiar to Canadian stamp collectors. They are behind 9 previous designs including the 2018 QEII 65th anniversary stamps, the 2017 Year of the Rooster and 2014 Year of the Horse.

The Lunar New Year stamp series uses artwork from by Albert Ng and Associates (rat, monkey, pig), Helene L’Heureux (ram), HM&E Design (rabbit), Louis Fishauf (dragon), MIX Design Group (snake), Paprika (horse, rooster), Subplot Design Inc. (dog), Taylor/Sprules Corp. (ox), and Wilco Design (tiger).

Are you interested in seeing all Canada’s upcoming stamps for 2021?  Check out the post below for more information.

Awesome 2021 Canadian stamps announced


Spectacular 1918 Canadian Forces in North Russia covers

Spectacular 1918 Canadian Forces in North Russia covers

Cherry Stone Auctions has a trio of Canadian Forces covers that should generate interest from military collectors, especially those specializing in WW1 pieces. These are rare items. The 3 covers were mailed by members of the Canadian Military Expedition North Russia during Canada’s short-lived fight with the Red Army.  These types of covers don’t see the light of day often and are listed at a decent price of $500 (US). After watching so many stamp auctions since the pandemic hit, I’m betting they go for substantially less.

Screen capture of 3 postal covers sent from Siberia by Canadian Forces troops

1918-19 three covers to Canada, “Field Post Office 201” On Active Service

The covers appear in their December 15-16, 2020 auction and are set to sell on the first day. Cherry Stone has a full pdf catalogue you can download or, if you haven’t stripped Flash out of your computer yet, use their flip catalogue. You can find both on their home page at However, you really need to remove Flash before the new year. I posted an article about the security issues surrounding Flash in Oct. Read it here -> Uninstall Adobe Flash Now

UPDATE – price realized

Updated Dec 30, 2020

I just checked and this lot sold for $450, slightly under the catalogue value.

About the North Russia Expedition

These Canadian Forces covers would be an extraordinary addition to any collection. Covers like these are rarely offered. The three have historical and military significance that goes beyond the Canadian Forces aspect. The North Russia Expedition is a little-known chapter in Canadian history, often neglected because of the larger battles being fought across Europe.  Ostensibly, the joint international expedition was to ensure no German troops landed in the Murmansk region, but it quickly turned into a fight between the Red and White armies, with international troops supporting the Czarist White Army.

Here’s a brief geography lesson. Murmansk (where Arkangel is located) is above the arctic circle, bordering Finland, hence the concern Germany might cut up through the area. Murmansk was of strategic importance to both the Germans and the allies because of the open port and abundance of minerals. When German troops arrived in Finland, alarms went off throughout the allied forces about the possibility of Germany seizing the Port of Murmansk and the rails used to move vital supplies. Canada sent 4,192 troops from the Canadian Field Artillery (67th and 68th Batteries of the 16th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery). They arrived in the fall of 1918 and withdrew June 1919. If you have information you’d like to add (or correct what I’ve written) feel free to leave it in the comments field below. Always happy to have more information on these posts.

Three Canadian Forces Covers

Each cover has a military cancel and marked “On Active Service” (OAS). The top left was sent Dec 8,1919 and backstamped Jan 10, 1920. This came from one of 53 soldiers transferred to British command when Canadian troops left Russia for home in June 1919. No mention of the soldier’s name, but a little research into which of the 53 were from New Brunswick might bear fruit.

The second, top right, was sent Nov 1918 to Markham Ontario. Markham, at the time, was a small agricultural township, and a search of Canadian records for soldiers from the Siberian Expedition might lead to a possible identify.

The bottom right cover was sent March 1919. It has a cancel from a Royal Army Medical Corps Hospital Ship anchored off Archangel. The address is here in the heart of Toronto, at near Wellesley Streets and Sherbourne. I did a quick record check for the recipient and came up empty. A deep dive into Toronto churches would be required to find more information.

Despite their obvious faults, these 3 covers are still highly collectable.

A few resources to check out

If you’d like to learn more about the North Russian Expedition aka the Siberian Expedition, hop over to the University of Victoria, BC website on this chapter of Canadian history. It’s titled Canada’s Siberian Expedition.

This brief trailer is also worth a look. It packs a lot of info into a short clip.

If you’re interested in Canadian military related stamps and covers, check out this article I published last month.

Amazing German FDC – Tag der Briefmarke 2020

As always, you can follow me with any of the social media links listed below. Cheers.

Awesome 2021 Canadian stamps announced

Awesome 2021 Canadian stamps announced

Canada Post has released topics for their 2021 Canadian stamps, with some exciting 100th anniversary celebrations in the mix. The list is an interesting selection of Canadian achievements and multicultural events.

List of 2021 Canadian stamp issues

  • the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin.
  • five mammals that turn white in winter.
  • two legends of Canadian ballet.
  • the 100th anniversary of the launch of the legendary schooner Bluenose.
  • the three First World War heroes from Winnipeg’s Valour Road.

UPDATED Jan. 07, 2021. Canada Post has started issuing the 2021 stamps. The original article on the topics starts below the list. Purchase stamps here: Latest stamps | New in store | Canada Post

2021 Canadian stamps January

2021 Canadian stamps Canada Post's Lunar New Year stamps

Lunar New Year cycle wraps up

Lunar New Year Cycle

12 Lunar New Year stamps.
Booklets, uncut press sheets, souvenir sheet, framed pane.

Completion of current Lunar New Year series that started in 2009. Each design is based on a previously released stamp.

Designer: Paprika Design
Previously designed stamps include 2018 QEII, and 2017 Formula 1 Drivers.

Release date: January 15, 2021

2021 Canadian stamps Scan of Canada 2021 Lunar New Year Stamps showing 12 years worth of stamps

Canada 2021 Lunar New Year Stamps

Full souvenir sheet

Canada Post stamps Feb. 2021 two black history month stamps

Celebrating black settlements in Willow Grove NB and Amber Valley, Alberta

Black History Month

Two stamps celebrating two communities settled by Black Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Amber Valley, Alberta & Willow Grove, NB.

The residents of Willow Grove and Amber Valley faced the challenges of poor farming land and harsh weather conditions. They also faced continued prejudice and discrimination, including from local and federal governments. Despite the hostility of their environments, these communities grew, and their descendants have enriched Canadian society and culture. Black History Month | Canada Post

Two stamps in this series
Permanent stamps, souvenir sheets, FDC

Special cancels from Athabasca AB


Designer: Lime Design
Previously designed includes 2018 Canadian Illustrators, 2012 Guardian of English Bay Joe Fortes, 2011 Black History Month featuring Fergie Jenkins,

Release date: January 22, 2021


Image of the stamp booklet for Black History month 2021 Canadian Stamps

2 booklets to be issued

Two separate booklets issued
FDC for Amber Valley was founded around 1910

Amber Valley

Willow Grove was founded in 1817 by a group of Black refugees from the War of 1812 (most formerly enslaved in the United States).

Willow Grove

FDC Amber Valley was founded around 1910

FDC Willow Grove was founded in 1817 by a group of Black refugees from the War of 1812 (most formerly enslaved in the United States).

2021 Canadian stamps February

What are your picks?

I’m not sure which of Canada’s ballet legends will be honoured but I’m betting it’ll be Rex Harrington and Evelyn Hart. I’m not a major fan of ballet, so I’m likely off on these picks, but with Canada’s rich ballet history and there are lots of choices.

The mammals of winter will be fun. My picks are the artic hare, arctic fox, Peary caribou, arctic wolf, and harp seal.

It’s hard to imagine a world without insulin, but the discovery is only 100 years old. Read more on it here 100 Years of Insulin: Accelerating Canadian Discoveries to Defeat Diabetes. Previous stamps highlighting insulin included the 50th anniversary issue 1971, 1990 physician’s series, and 1999 millennium issue.

And the beloved Bluenose!

Scan of Bluenose 1929 stamp. Look for it on 2021 Canadian stamps

1929 Bluenose stamp from writer’s collection

The Bluenose has appeared on 4 Canadian stamps, 1929, 1982, 1988 and 1998.  The classic 1929 issue appeared on the 82 and 98 stamps. It’s hard to beat the iconic 1929 issue for power and grace. Of all the new releases, this one creates the greatest interest. I’d love to see a photo of the Bluenose incorporated into the design this time around.

The Valour Road stamps will honour 3 WW1 Canadian soldiers who lived on the same street in Winnipeg. Corporal Leo Clarke, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall, and Lieutenant Robert Shankland each won the Victoria Cross, prompting Pine Street to be renamed Valour Road in 1925.

Reoccurring themes for 2021 Canadian stamps

As expected, Canada Post will highlight several popular themes used in past years.

  • spring flower stamps this year will be crab-apples blossoms.
  • the Chinese Lunar New Year will feature a multi-stamp look at past issues in the series.
  • Black History Month will honour pioneering settlements in Amber Valley, Alberta, and Willow Grove, New Brunswick.
  • a stamp honouring the Canada Post Community Foundation, which supports a number of schools, charities, and children’s organizations.
  • Eid, Diwali, and Hanukkah stamps.
  • and of course, the yearly Christmas stamps which will have an angel and some as yet unannounced, classic Christmas characters.

Lots to look forward to in the new year. I’m eager to see who the designers are as well. I started a small database tracking modern designer and their stamps. If I ever complete it, I’ll share it, but don’t hold your breath. So many stamps to write about, so little time to spare.

What are your choices? Leave them in the comments below.

Check back frequently for more stamp collecting news. Remember to follow Bitter Grounds on Twitter or Facebook to receive updates on the stamp world. If you don’t use them, check out the links below for more options to follow this site.


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.