Dorchester 0-4-0 Type
Date of Issue
October 3, 1983
Canadian Locomotives, 1836-1860
Series Time Span
Perforation or Dimension
12.5 x 13
Designed by Ernst Roch.
Because the mid-1980's will mark the centennial of "The Last Spike" and the 150th anniversary of the first Canadian railway, the Canada Post Corporation will commence a series of train stamps. This is a continuation of the stamp series featuring Canadian transportation, which was begun in 1975 with ships and followed by airplanes. The stamps will recall the days when the railroad was "an image of man, a tradition, a code of honour, a source of poetry, a nursery of boyhood desires, a sublimest of toys, and the most solemn machine - next to the funeral hearse - that marks the epochs in a man's life." The first Canadian railroad, the Champlain and St. Lawrence, opened for business on 21 July 1836. On that date the Dorchester, a locomotive imported from England, pulled two coaches from La Prairie to Dorchester (later St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu) and back. Like many early Canadian lines, the Champlain and St. Lawrence was a portage railway, a short cut between the Richelieu River and Montreal, saving ninety miles of river travel. Mine railroads also gained prominence at this time. In 1838 the Samson, the first locomotive in the Maritimes, began running from the Frood coal mine to the Pictou wharf. By 1850, British North America boasted about sixty-six miles of railway. A construction boom over the next ten years raised the total to 2065 miles. By 1860, an uninterrupted stretch of track connected Sarnia, Montreal, and the Atlantic coast at Portland, Maine. Most contemporary Canadian railroads hoped to tap the lucrative American market, but failed to do so. They depended heavily on government financing and foreign capital, lacked sufficient customers, and suffered financial headaches. Most locomotives, such as the Birkenhead-type Adam Brown, were still imported. Nevertheless, in the 1850's some Canadian railroads began building their own to meet North American conditions. Among these was the Toronto, the first locomotive manufactured in Canada West, built in Toronto in 1853. The locomotive stamps were designed by Ernst Roch of Montreal. The format chosen, which presents the locomotives in profile against a plain background colour, are ideal for presenting the mechanical complexity that makes locomotives so visually interesting. The principal challenge of designing these stamps was to simplify the engines to make a sufficiently strong graphic statement at stamp size without sacrificing significant detail.
Canada Post Corporation. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1983.
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