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Ships of Canada, Ice Vessels





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. As a Cold War participant, Canada required an Arctic patrol vessel to maintain military bases and to defend its sovereignty. The navy ordered the "Labrador" built by Marine Industries Ltd. of Sorel and commissioned on 8 July 1954. Rated as a heavy icebreaker, she sported a helicopter, powerful diesel-electric motors and two 40 mm guns. The ship headed north with 20 officers, 12 scientists and approximately 200 men, and by 29 July 1954 had sighted ice in the Davis Strait. During this maiden voyage, the "Labrador" became the first naval vessel to traverse the Northwest Passage. In 1958, short of manpower, the navy transferred the "Labrador" to the Canadian Coast Guard, which she still serves. 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 Bjanason'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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