Preserved in the cold and murky depths, shipwrecks are messengers from some of the most fascinating eras of Canada's past. The Basques began whaling around the Labrador coast around 1525. The operation at Red Bay, Labrador eventually produced up to half million gallons of whale oil par year. A ship believed to be the San Juan grounded and sank there in 1565. Since its rediscovery, the ship has provided invaluable information about shipbuilding during that period and about the early Canadian whaling industry. The main design elements of the four stamps are the hull of the San Juan, the figurehead from the Hamilton, the wheel from the Breadalbane and the bell from the Ericsson. Each object is evidence of that ship's passage through Canadian waters. Together, they share a common theme - the study of historic shipwrecks. Louis-André Rivard, a Montreal designer, has linked these elements visually by symbolically incorporating the reference grid used in archeological investigations. In the background can be seen the air bubbles so familiar to enthusiasts of the spectacular activity of underwater exploration.
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