It is almost impossible to resist the open road; to ignore the whisper of a stream as it slides over moss-covered rocks; to disregard a wink from the tallest tree in the forest; to snub the open arms of a sandy shoreline. Every year, undiscovered dioramas of crooked rivers, sparkling lakes and mountain vistas entice us to explore their beauty. This year, Canada Post pays tribute to the beauty and diversity of Canada with the first of a new stamp series, "Scenic Highways". The stamps will be issued in sets of four, one set per year for the next three years. The opening set, scheduled for release on June 30th, features a visual delight of contrasting scenery; Cape Breton's Cabot Trail, Ontario's Wine Route, Saskatchewan's Big Muddy, and British Columbia's Sea to Sky Highway.
In his first work for Canada Post, designer Lou Cable has just juggled several elements to give us a striking photographic image of each of these, the first four stamps in the Scenic Highway series. Each combines four elements: a landscape photo; a depiction of one local cultural, historical, economical or recreational aspect; an official provincial road sign; and one area of a map showing the specific piece of the road.
Half the fun of driving along B.C.'s incredible Route 99 is counting the number of times you have to stop to soak up the stunning scenery. Carved from sheer granite cliffs in several places, the Sea to Sky Highway, also known as the Squamish Highway, hugs fjord-like Howe Sound on its ways from the Lower Mainland to the former gold rush town of Lillooet. The Vancouver Coast and Mountains Tourism Region refers to Route 99 as the "gateway to the spectacular" and writes that "The snow capped Coast Mountains are spectacular; the harbour views captivating; and the forested valley and the lush farmlands unspoilt and picturesque". This part of British Columbia was first settled by the Coast and Interior Salish Indians centuries ago. Gold seekers arrived in the 1850' and 60' followed by loggers and farmers. Today, over 20,000 people live in the area between Horseshoe Bay and Whistler Resort. Another 5,500 dwell in the Lillooet area. Originally a logging and homesteading road, the Sea to Sky Highway has undergone dramatic improvements in recent years. A great debt is owed to the road builders who struggled with mountain torrents, falling stones, rock slides, and freezing weather to sculpt out a safe road with such exhilarating views.
The contributing photographer for the Sea to Sky Highway is Ed Gifford of British Columbia.