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Date of Issue

November 7, 1973




Postal Administration




Series Time Span


Perforation or Dimension

12.5 x 12


Ashton-Potter Limited.


Designed by Arnaud Maggs

About Stamp

It is interesting to know how the first white men in North America spent Christmas Day. The first Christmas observed in Canada, that of 1535, was kept - but hardly enjoyed - by Jacques Cartier and his men in a tiny fortress on the banks of the St. Charles River, near the present Quebec City. They had underestimated the degree of cold that would settle over the land, food was scarce and of poor quality, and the wilderness offered little to cheer them. Conditions had, however, greatly improved by the early seventeenth century and one can imagine that the festivities held at Port Royal by Champlain and his Order of Good Cheer were of the highest quality. Skipping over several thousands miles and a hundred years, we find the men at Fort Albany on James Bay in 1714 drinking the health of a Queen, Anne, nearly five months dead, while at Moose Factory during the same period the form of celebration varied with the religious scruples of the master from being a day of merrymaking to being a day devoted to strict religious exercise. For Samuel Hearne Christmas 1770 was spent crossing the barren ground on his way to the Arctic Ocean and was the worst he had ever known. For many days they had been in great want and for the previous three days had tasted nothing but a pipe of tobacco and a drink of snow water. It was not until the 27th that they again found game. Some eighty years later, by comparison, Paul Kane spent Christmas 1847 at Fort Edmonton in great comfort. The food was plentiful and excellent, the decorations beautiful and the company the best. The Christmas celebrations of the early years of our country's history contrast sharply with what most of us will experience this year. Arnaud Maggs' four designers are of a deceptively childlike and simple nature, but on closer examination betray a high level of professionalism and creativity. They can be seen as representing four elements that might be a part of your Christmas celebrations: the skate might signify the recreational activities you will share with your family and friends; the bird, the Dove of Peace and brotherly love; the Santa Claus, the joy you will feel giving gifts; and finally, the shepherd, a reminder of that day 2,000 years ago when the Christ child was born.


Canada. Post Office Department. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1973.

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