As the sun settles in the western sky on October 31, an aura of mystery descends upon towns and cities across Canada. Children don masks, costumes and make-up, and bravely head out to face what lies in wait: jack-o-lanterns, mysterious spirits, and of course, candy. Hallow's Eve, or Halloween as it is more commonly known, has become a cherished tradition, and along with it, symbols of the supernatural have found a place in our culture - vampires, ghosts, werewolves and goblins.
Inspired by the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula", and by the release of similar commemorative stamps in the United States, Britain and Ireland, Canada Post will issue a set of four ghoulish domestic-rate stamps. This year's "October is Stamp Collecting Month" issue is sure to delight Canadian stamp collectors, especially young, budding philatelists.
Numerous stories of werewolves are found within Canadian folklore, especially among our Native people and in French Canadian culture, which is rich in tales of the "loup-garou". In Edith Fowke's "Folktales of French Canada", we can read "The Loup-Garou of the Cemetery", the story of a man who is said to have roamed the cemetery by night with his pack digging up the dead and devouring their corpses. In another collection of legends collected by Steven Freygood entitled "Headless George and Other Tales Told in Canada", we can read the Inuit tale of the "Childless Werewolves" in which an Inuit couple are robbed of their only son by a jealous werewolf, his wife and his pack of friends. Werewolves have also appeared in Robert W. Service's "The House of Fear" and Alan Sullivan's story "The Eyes of Sebastien" in "Under Northern Lights", his collection of tales of the North.
A chilling rival for the vampire, the werewolf has had an illustrious movie career as well. Four years after the debut of Bela Lugosi's Dracula, Hollywood introduced the "Werewolf of London" with Henry Hull, but the 1941 "Wolf Man" featuring Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot, the furry fiend, is probably the all-time favourite in the werewolf genre. The fearful werewolf returned in subsequent films: Oliver Reed's "Curse of the Werewolf" in 1961, and in the '80s, in "Wolfen", as well as "An American Werewolf in London" and "The Howling". In 1994, actor Jack Nicholson starred in Mike Nichols' "Wolf".
These stamps were created from the imaginations of four Canadian illustrators. The artist's portraits were then adapted by Toronto designer Louis Fishauf into the spooky stamp set available to Canadian collectors. Though the cartoon-style of the drawings lightens the tone of the imagery, the visuals still convey a chilling air of horror. Available in panes of 16 stamps, the Supernatural stamps will be issued October 1 for October is Stamp Collecting Month.