U.S. founding father on a new Canadian stamp? Here's why
Published Sunday, June 9, 2013 8:58AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 9, 2013 11:48AM EDT
A new stamp to be issued by Canada Post Monday is already raising eyebrows for its depiction of famous American inventor, philosopher and founding father Benjamin Franklin. But officials say the tribute makes sense, if you know a little about Canadian postal history.
The stamp is being released to mark 250 years of postal service in Canada. Looking back at the service’s history, Canada Post notes that in 1753, Franklin, then Philadelphia Postmaster, was promoted to joint deputy postmaster general for the British colonies.
He opened the first Canadian post office in Halifax to serve as a link between the Atlantic colonies and Britain, before going on to start mail service in Quebec.
The stamp portrays Franklin’s image – famously seen on U.S. hundred-dollar bills – with an artist’s rendering of Quebec City in the background.
But despite the historical ties Franklin has to Canada’s postal history, the decision to put a revered American hero on a Canadian stamp has some scratching their heads.
“It doesn’t really make a lot of sense,” one person in Winnipeg told CTV News.
“Ben Franklin, one of the American founding fathers? I hear he was a hell of an electrician,” joked another.
Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton defended the stamp.
“You can’t ignore the fact that the first post master appointed to set up postal service in this new land that eventually became Canada was Benjamin Franklin,” he said. “He’s noted for doing a number of things… but this is important.”
This isn’t the first time Franklin has been featured on a Canadian stamp. He was pictured on a stamp once before in 1976.
But historian Christopher Moore says Canada Post should have reconsidered its decision.
“They can certainly argue that they’re right that Ben Franklin was involved with the beginnings of the British-Canadian postal service, but I still think they could have found a Canadian to go on it,” he said.
He said while Franklin’s connection is undeniable, using an image of the American makes for an “odd looking” stamp.
“That wasn’t my pick,” he said. “I must admit I like the work Canada Post is doing… but I think this is an odd one.”
Moore added that there was postal service operating between Montreal and Quebec City, which predates the Canada Post anniversary. “The postal service is older than 250 years and they might have thought about that too.”
For now though, the stamp is proving to be more of a curiosity than a controversy.
“I think it’s part of history. I think it’s a good choice,” one Winnipeg resident said.
With a report by CTV News’ Winnipeg Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon
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