In the summer of 1908 Canadians honoured the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of Quebec in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer and colonizer. In March, 1908 the government proposed to issue a series of postage stamps to commemorate the occasion. In view of the marked departure from the precedent in subject matter for the proposed stamp designs, the Department sought the permission of King Edward VII to use portraits of non-royal persons and historical subjects on stamps of permanent validity. His Majesty consented, and the stamp were released on [16th] July, 1908 for sale to the public throughout the Dominion [before] the Prince of Wales (later King George V) reached Québec.
The stamp depicts the three small vessels of Cartier's second expedition which have come to rest near Cape Diamond. Boats are putting off to make a landing on the unknown shore. The vessels shown are the two ships "Grande Hermine" and "Petite Hermine", and a galley, the "Emerillon". Cartier anchored near the mouth of the St. Charles River, not far from the Indian village of Stadacona. From Quebec, or "Kebec", an Algonquin word meaning, "narrowing of the waters", Cartier pushed on in the "Emerillon" as far as the Indian village of Hochelaga, on the Island of Montreal.