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Chief Justice Robinson

Ships of Canada, Ice Vessels


Chief Justice Robinson



Date of Issue

November 15, 1978




Postal Administration



Ships of Canada, Ice Vessels

Series Time Span


Perforation or Dimension

13 x 13.5


Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.


Designed by Tom Bjarnason. Engraved by Yves Baril.

About Stamp

Many sailors never encounter ice, except in a cold drink. Canadian mariners, on the other hand, contend with everything from towering icebergs to an entire ocean frozen for most of the year. These vessels were developed to combat the mighty forces of winter. The Niagara Harbour and Dock Company built the "Chief Justice Robinson" in 1842 to continue the Toronto-Niagara River passenger run during winter. In the tense atmosphere of the period, the Americans feared that this vessel's snout-like prow would prove more useful for ramming their vessels than for breaking ice. The "Chief Justice" maintained a reliable winter service, although she sometimes landed passengers far out on the ice. The ship, with her ram bow and walking beam engine, must have been a strange sight "smoking and splashing and walloping along", but she established an excellent reputation. Sir Richard Bonnycastle stated that "...when the lamps were lit, and conversation going on ... one could quite forget we were ... on lake Ontario...". The "Chief Justice" survived a dockyard fire and running aground, only to be laid up during the depression of 1857. The 1978 Ice Vessels stamps present an interesting contrast of vessels old and new combating their natural enemy, ice. From the ice- scrubbed sides of the "Labrador" to the round-hulled "Northern Light", belching smoke while trying to develop enough power to force her way through the pack, Tom Bjarnason's designs are authentic. The set is enlivened by the colour typography, the cheerful colour of the "Chief Justice Robinson's" hull and the bright signal flags of the "St. Roch" on trials. The delicate black steel engraving is appropriate to both the rigging of the early vessels and the complex lattice mast, radar antennas and aerials of the modern "Labrador".

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Similar Stamps


Canada. Post Office Department. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1978.

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