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: https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/100-stories/Pages/barker.aspx
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 http://www.tsworld.com/content_interviews/novotny/novotny.ph

Aero Club of Canada stamp & more

Aero Club of Canada stamp & more

I’m back lurking around Vance Auction’s  October listings, this time looking at the airmails. Oh and be still my beating heart! The first offerings in Canadian semi-postals knocked my socks off. Now is the time to dig up some extra cash and go wild. What has my pulse racing? Check them out:

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I’m always blown away by them when I see them.  They are on my fantasy “one day I’ll own them” list. The first is an Aug 1918 CLP2 tete beche pair. Vance describes them as VF, OG and well centred. Estimate on this is $1,500 (lot #6759). I went to a stamp show (quite a few years ago) and one of the sellers had a couple singles on display. That was the only time I’ve been able to get so close I could see all the detail. Great propaganda pieces. 

Scan of CLP 2 tete beche pair

Moving on through the list – 3 CPL3 AUG 25, 1919 Aeroclub Canada stamps, including a used with a good cachet estimated $900.  

Scan of CLP3 semi official airmail with crisp cancel

The cachet is strong and doesn’t look like it’s suffered any fading over time – ‘AERIAL MAIL AUG 25, 1919 TORONTO CANADA’ .  All three are worth checking out if you’re a semi-official collector. Check out lots 6760 to 6762. 

Rounding out the list are two beautiful deep red Estevan – Winnipeg FF semis from  Oct 1 1924.  

Scan of Canada airmail with CLP5 semi official stamp

If you have an eye for cachets, CLP5 and CLP5i are the ones to look at. Both have a little biplane stamped under the By Air Mail | First Flight, but CLP5i version is picture perfect and still strong 94 year later. Estimates $250 and $275.

Vance Auctions #333 Oct 11 catalogue is online now – http://www.vanceauctions.com.  While over there don’t forget to check out their blog. They recently posted an interesting bit on the lathe work on Canadian Admirals. 

Sparks Auction gem – WW1 war saving poster up for grabs

Sparks Auction gem – WW1 war saving poster up for grabs

I wrote about this WWI war saving poster back in 2015 Canada war revenue poster – Great War propaganda. I put it up as my wallpaper now and then because I like it so much. It’s one of those posters you look at and idly think wow wouldn’t that be great to own.

1918 Canada WW1 war saving poster

#FWS1-4 var World War I War Savings Stamps Poster

Imagine my surprise when I was leafing through the Sparks catalogue for the upcoming auction and saw it listed. Not just any copy of the poster – a pristine issue. I’ve never seen it up for auction in all the catalogues I’ve looked through. It’s the type of offering that appeals to collectors from a number of areas – philately, WW1, history, ephemera and propaganda.

This poster is quite remarkable because of it’s condition. For a 100 year old piece of paper, it’s still bright, crisp and nearly as clean as the day it rolled off the press.  Very importantly, it comes from a non smoking home and stored properly, so it won’t have the nasty yellowing so often seen on old paper documents.  According to the listing, the poster wasn’t folded, and  never used for public display, hence the sharp colours.

#FWS1-4 var WW1 war saving poster,

an original poster measuring 20½ x 27 inches, printed and issued by the National War-Savings Committee, Ottawa. These were folded twice to be mailed to post offices for display, and this one appears to have escaped any public display, as evidenced by its gorgeous condition, bright colours and such. It depicts a large $5 stamp (FWS2) in colour of issue (green) plus nine smaller 25c stamps (FWS1) in brown.

This poster alerted the public for the purchase of the 1918 series of War Savings Stamps, as listed by van Dam as #s FWS1-4. A very rare showpiece, which has been stored in a non-smoking and archival environment for the past 100 years. There is a small (insignificant) repair in the lower left margin, else a remarkable poster, in fresh original condition, offered in a rigid top loader protective sleeve for viewing. Another great addition to the other lots we offer pertaining to this interesting issue. – Sparks Auction #27 catalogue

The  estimate is set at $750, well worth the price for such a great piece of Canadian, philately and WW1 history, especially one in such prime condition.  Check it out it out – Sparks Auction #27 pg 54 in Part 1 — Canada & British North America.