Canada Post’s 2021 Black History month issues – Amber Valley

Canada Post’s 2021 Black History month issues – Amber Valley

Canada Post’s 2021 Black History month honours two black communities who carved out lives in Canada, Amber Valley, Alberta and Willow Grove, New Brunswick. I started drafting a single article but became engrossed in the histories of these communities and realised they deserved separate recognition. The first of two posts starts with Amber Valley.

2021 Black History Month – Amber Valley Alberta

Amber Valley is located 170 kilometres north of Edmonton. If you are familiar with northern Alberta, then you understand how cold and remote the Athabasca region is. The people who settled Amber Valley took a difficult and at times dangerous trek from Alabama and Oklahoma, determined to create a better life in Canada, far away, hopefully, from the Jim Crow south.

The influx was sparked by a Canadian Immigration Dept, campaign to bring new settlers to the prairie provinces with promises of free land. Over a 2 year span, approx. 1,000 Black-Americans responded to the ads and settled in Pine Creek, Alberta (later renamed Amber Valley), Junkins, Alberta (renamed Wildwood), Keystone, Alberta (renamed Breton) and Campsie and Maidstone, Saskatchewan. A group of 100, headed for Amber Valley in 1909. They were joining Reverend Harrison (Henry) Sneed, who made the first trip to the Athabasca valley to survey the area in 1905.

Frustrated by their disfranchisement and fearful of escalating white violence, black Oklahomans proved receptive to the appeals of Canadian officials and looked to Canada as their new hope for a promised land of equality and opportunity. Between 1905 and 1912, over 1,000
African Americans made the trek to Canada and most of them came from Oklahoma. Many of these Canadian immigrants had been migrants to Oklahoma, who had hoped for an all-black state but instead encountered white violence and Jim Crowism. They believed they had been abandoned by America and hoped to lead freer lives in Canada, where they were told prosperity awaited. Although part of the larger white migration, African Americans regarded their move to Canada in very different ways from white Americans.

“We Heard Canada Was a Free Country”: African American Migration in the Great Plains, 1890-1911 (

FDC for Amber Valley was founded around 1910 - 2021 Black History month

First Day Cover celebrating Amber Valley, Alberta, settled by black immigrants from Oklahoma USA in 1909.  Designed by Lara Minja of Lime Design Inc

Racism in Canada – “campaign of diplomatic racism”

Various records offer up different numbers of people who followed Rev Sneed.  Most indicate approx. 100 people made up the first trip. More followed, but by 1911, a group of 200 blacks, heading to Amber Valley encountered racist issues at the border. It’s easy to gloss over the success of the community and pretend they were welcome to the North, but the Black Americans succeeded because they persevered, not because a welcome mat was rolled out.

Old racist tropes were resurrected to prevent blacks from settling Canada, ranging from the hysteria claiming black communities were dangerous to white homes, to black homesteads would drive the price of land down. The Federal government was petitioned to halt all non-white immigration to the country.

Once black settlers started arriving in larger numbers, however, they did rely upon indirect methods to discourage these “undesirables” from undertaking the journey up north. While simultaneously advertised as hospitable and inviting to the American whites, the climate of the Canadian west was presented as much too cold and severe for any blacks. Strict economic and physical standards aimed at restricting newcomers, but most blacks passed the tests. Finally, agents hired by the Canadian government were sent Oklahoma to persuade these potential immigrants that Albertan soil was poor and that they would, in any case, have difficulty crossing the border. These informal policies were effective, and by 1912, black immigration to Alberta had all but ended.

Land of Opportunity – The Great Migration – Black Communities in Alberta (

Actions by the Canadian government killed off the movement north. By 1911, white communities were pressuring the government to act.  On August 12, 1911, Order-in-Council 1324 was drafted to stop all black immigration for up to a year.

“the serious menace to the future welfare of a large portion of western Canada, by reason of the alarming influx of Negro settlers.”

Minister of the Interior Frank Oliver MP Edmonton in letter to PM Laurier

Although Order 1324 failed to become official policy, other methods were instituted. 1324 failed, not because of a sense of anti-racist sentiment on behalf of the Canadian cabinet, but because the Laurier government was facing an election year and they didn’t want to stir up any controversies or start a political row with the US.

Instead, Canada began what has been described as a “campaign of diplomatic racism.” A polite way of saying Canada instituted racist rules but did it in a way that didn’t draw attention. If there’s one thing Canada excels at, it’s being polite and hiding our racism behind a cloak of respectability. Medical exams were made harder to pass for blacks, doctors were bribed to fail applicants, head taxes of up to $50 per person instituted, certificates proving suitability as farmers refused were among the tactics used. The government finally resorted to sending officials to Oklahoma to discourage blacks directly. Only then did black immigration fall off.

Photos of black citizens from Amber Valley

Searching through various archives rewarded me with many photos of the citizens of Amber Valley. Too many to post here, but a wonderful look at a flourishing black community.

Photo of black couple living in Amber Valley Alberta around 1920

Mr. and Mrs. Spriggs of Begg, Oklahoma. Photo taken at Amber Valley, Alberta. Image courtesy Archives Society of Alberta

Photo of children Jesse Bowen and Frank Jamerson_1920 in front of a car

Jesse Bowen and Frank Jamerson 1920. Archives society of Alberta

The photos from Archives society of Alberta provide a slice of life in rural Alberta and highlight a much-ignored part of Canadian history – the contributions blacks made in all walks of life. Black History Month offers a small correction into this unbalanced view of our history, but we still have a long way to go to appreciate who helped build Canada.

Young black farmer with his horse in Amber Valley 1920s

Young farmer with horse. Amber Valley around 1920s Archives society of Alberta

1920s photograph of a woman milking a cow

Unknown woman milking a cow in 1920.s Archives society of Alberta

Like many rural communities, people gradually drifted away to larger cities for better economic opportunities. Farming is arduous work; farming in a northern community can be harsh and unforgiving. Over the decades, Amber Valley’s population declined until it was nothing more but a memory. The school closed in 1950s and the post office in 1968.  As the remaining population began to age and die, their original homesteads were either sold, demolished, or left to disintegrate into the soil.

Some of the descendants of Amber Valley’s immigrants were Violet King Henry, Canada’s first black, female attorney, Cheryl Foggo, award winning author and playwright, and Oliver Bowen, engineer behind Calgary’s first light rail. The Oklahomans who settled in Alberta left a hell of a legacy.

Amber Valley stamp for 2021 Black History Month

Postage stamp showing settlers above the town of Amber Valley, Alberta

Amber Valley Stamp – Black History Month 2021 Canada

Lime Design’s Lara Minja created both stamps for Black History Month.  The First Day Cover bears a cancelation from Athabasca, AB (where Amber Valley is).

Postal Cancel for Black History Month 2021 showing a wagon wheel design

Athabasca 2021 postal cancel

If you find these stamps & their histories interesting, check out Lime Design’s previous Black History Month stamps. Designer Lara Minja has created 4 previous series and they are equally outstanding. Minja is talented and imaginative in her designs. If you collect Canadian, history or Black History stamps, these should be in your collection.

I’ll post about the second stamp in this series later and pop a link here when it’s done. In the Meantime, check out other upcoming issues for Canada

Awesome 2021 Canadian stamps announced


11 Countries – 2021 stamps

2021 stamps for 11 countries are now listed and 3 almost ready to load. That didn’t take long. If there is a country you’d like to see listed, drop a line in the comments and I’ll see if I can bump it up on the list.

A | Åland 2021 | Austria | Österreichische Post 2021 | Australia 2021

B | Belarus | Belpochta 2021

C | Canada 2021

E | Estonia | Eesti 2021

F | Faroe Islands

M | Macau 2021

N | Norway – 2021

U | USA 2021 | United Kingdom 2021

A lighthouse leads the Estonian stamps 2021 issues | Eesti margid 2021

A lighthouse leads the Estonian stamps 2021 issues | Eesti margid 2021

Eesti Post has released subjects and dates for the Estonian stamps 2021. No advanced images are available, which is shame because a few look interesting. Photos and designer information will be posted as the info is released. Estonian stamp collectors can look forward to 5 100th anniversary issues. For specialty collectors, there is an aviation stamp celebrating 100 years of Estonian aviation to look for in Sept and wildlife/nature specialists can expect several stamps throughout the year.

If you spot a misplaced accent or spelling mistake, please leave a comment below and I’ll correct it.

Subjects for 2021 stamps include:

  • Lighthouses
  • Football/soccer
  • five 100th Anniversaries
  • flowers
  • endangered species
  • Finno-Ugric Peoples
  • Film
  • Aviation
  • Churches

The first stamp is now available via Estonia’s online store.

Estonian stamps 2021 January

Estonian stamps 2021 showing a lighthouse on stamps, and FDC

Lighthouse on stamps

Tuletorn – Letipea tuletorn | Letipe Lighthouse  
Continuation of Lighthouse series that started in 2006
One stamp, info sheet, FDC
Designer: Roman Matkiewicz
Previous stamp designs include 2020’s Discovery of Antarctica 200. Estonian-Russian joint issue and the ongoing Lighthouse series.
Release date: Jan 21, 2021


Estonian stamps 2021 February

TBASõbrapäev | Valentine’s Day

Release date: Feb 04, 2021

Hiina uus aasta – härja aasta | Chinese New Year – Year of the Ox

Release date: Feb 12, 2021

TBAEesti Arstide Liit 100 | 100th Anniversary of the Estonian Medical Association

Release date: Feb 27, 2021

Estonian stamps 2021 March

TBAEesti statistika 100 | 100th Anniversary of Estonian Statistics

Release date: March 01, 2021

TBARukkilill | Cornflower

Release date: March 01, 2021

Estonian stamps 2021 April

TBAJärvselja 100 |100th Anniversary of Järvselja

Souvenir sheet

Release date: April 13, 2021

TBAEesti Ornitoloogiaühing 100 | 100th Anniversary of the Estonian Ornithological Society

Souvenir Sheet

Release date: April 29., 2021

Estonian stamps 2021 May

TBAEUROPA – ohustatud elusloodus | EUROPA – Endangered Wildlife

2 stamps in series

Release date:  May 06, 2021

TBALillemark | Flower stamp

Release date: May 20, 2021

 Estonian stamps 2021 June

TBASuveolümpiamängud 2020 Tokyo | Summer Olympic Games – Tokyo 2021

Release date:  June 11, 2021

TBASoome-ugri rahvaste maailmakongress | World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples

Release date: June 16, 2021

Estonian stamps 2021 July

TBAEesti Jalgpalli Liit 100 | 100th Anniversary of the Estonian Football Federation

Release date: July 01, 2021

TBAEuroopa juunioride MV kergejõustikus Tallinn 2021 | European Athletics U20 Championships Tallinn 2021

Release date: July 12, 2021

Estonian stamps 2021 August

TBAHead Eesti asjad | Great Estonian Things

Release date: August 12, 2021

Estonian stamps 2021 September

Eesti fauna – kärp | Estonian Fauna – The Stoat

Release date:  September 10, 2021

TBAEsimene filminäitamine 125 |125th Anniversary of the First Film Screening

Release date: September 16, 2021

Kirik – Keila Miikaeli kirik | Churches – St Michael’s Church in Keila

Release date: September 17, 2021

TBAEesti tsiviillennundus 100 | 100th Anniversary of Estonian Civil Aviation

Release date: September 20, 2021

Estonian stamps 2021 October

TBAEesti rahvusloom hunt | Estonia’s National Animal – The Wolf

Release date: October 01. 2021

TBAJõulud | Christmas

2 stamps in series

Release date: October 15, 2021

Eesti Pimedate Liit 100 | 100th Anniversary of the Estonian Blind Union

Release date: October 15, 2021

Estonian stamps 2021 November

TBAEesti-Brasiilia ühisväljaanne | Estonian-Brazilian joint issue

2 stamps in series

Release date: November 01, 2021

Kunst – EKM kullafond 1 | Art – treasures of the Art Museum of Estonia

Release date: November 17, 2021

See more country stamps for 2021 here:

Stamps by Country 2021 | Bitter Grounds Magazine

10 stamp issuing countries now available

I’m now up to 10 stamp issuing countries on this list. It takes quite a bit of time to pull the info together. It’s odd how many countries don’t supply lists, or indeed information on their stamps.

I’m attempting to include titles and subjects in the country’s native language when I can. It takes a lot of toing and froing with various websites, and Google translate, which means occasionally information is missed. Hopefully, the accents are correct, I’m taking a great deal of care in getting them placed properly. If something is wrong, please, drop a line in the comments section.

In the works is a newsletter you can subscribe to keep up to date with changes on both the website and (hopefully) one tailored to stamp news.  In the meantime, bookmark this page so you can return to see new articles.



Norwegian 2021 stamp issues & designers

Norwegian 2021 stamp issues & designers

Subjects and release dates for Norwegian 2021 stamp issues are available. Norwegian post office, Posten, doesn’t have images for the stamps yet, but, as usual, I’ll add them as they come available. Remember to follow Bitter Grounds (links at the bottom of the article) or bookmark this page.

Posten’s website has an archive of previous stamp magazines, Posten Norge Stamp Magazine, dating back to 2016. 5 magazines are published a year and you can download them for future references. If you want to keep the magazine, rather than just read it online, right click on the words “PDF File” and save. It’s available in English as well as Norwegian.

This year will see designer Magnus Rakeng return with a Peter I Island stamp. Rakeng has created a number of sleek fonts you can check out here Nyheter – Melkeveien. He also designed last year’s Polar Motif stamp depicting Jan Mayen island. Other familiar designers are Enzo Finger, Kristin Slotterøy, Camilla Kvien Jensen and Jørn O. Jøntvedt, all of whom contributed designs in 2020.

Subjects for Norway’s 2021 issues will include:

  • Polar motifs
  • City Anniversaries
  • Endangered National Wildlife
  • Railway Centenary
  • Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers 150th Anniversary,
  • Farm Animals
  • Research, Innovation, Technology
  • Motorbikes
  • Flag Bicentenary
  • Christmas stamps

Norwegian 2021 stamp issues – Feb

Polar Motifs 
Peter I Øy| Peter I IslandArtist/Designer: Magnus Rakeng

Release date: Feb 19, 2021



Byjubileer | City Anniversaries
Tønsberg , Larvik, LillesandArtist/Designer: Jørn O. Jøntvedt

Release date: Feb 19, 2021

Norwegian 2021 stamp issues – April

Truede dyrearter | Endangered National Wildlife

Artist/Designer: Camilla Kvien Jensen

Release date: April 23, 2021

Dovrebanen 100 | Dovre Railway Line Centenary

Artist/Designer: Trond Bredesen

Release date: April 23, 2021

Norwegian 2021 stamp issues – June

Norges Jeger- og Fiskerforbund 150| Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers 150th Anniversary

Artist/Designer: Kristin Slotterøy

Release date: June 11, 2021

Husdyr | Farm Animals

Artist/Designer: Cecilie Sørgård

Release date:  June 11, 2021

Norwegian 2021 stamp issues – Oct

Forskning, innovasjon, teknologi | Research, Innovation, Technology

Artist/Designer: Enzo Finger

Release date: Oct 2, 2021

Mopeder og motorsykler | Mopeds and Motorcycles

Artist/Designer: Erland Dilling

Release date: Oct. 2, 2021

Norwegian 2021 stamp issues – Nov

Norges flagg 200 år | Flag of Norway Bicentenary

Artist/Designer: Camilla Kvien Jensen

Release date: Nov 5, 2021

Julefrimerker | Christmas stamps

Artist/Designer: Lisa Aisato

Release date: Nov 5, 2021

More 2021 county issues available here: Stamps By Country 2021 | Bitter Grounds Magazine