Topical collectors of Canadiana, sports and the animal kingdom will be delighted. A four-stamp series honouring famous Canadian horses will be released on June 2, 1999. The first series in Canadian philatelic history to feature horses on their own, the new release will be presented both in a self-adhesive booklet of 12, a gummed stamp pane of 16 and as an official first-day cover.
Pierre-Yves Pelletier of Montréal, a graphic artist well known over the years to collectors for his arresting designs, has hit the mark again with this series depicting four celebrated animals in dynamic motion.
Based on sports-action photographs, the colourful images of horses rise from their faded backgrounds. Each of the horses is caught in mid-action either bucking, jumping or racing towards the finish line.
Northern Dancer - Pride of the Nation
The Dancer, as Canadians knew him, was a feisty colt with a huge heart and true courage. Ridden by Bill Shoemaker and Bill Hartack, Northern Dancer won many great races including the Flamingo, the Preakness and Remsen Stakes. His greatest moment, however, came in the Kentucky Derby itself. Trapped along the rail at Churchill Downs for much of the race, Northern Dancer shot through an opening in the turn for home, rocketed to the lead and won by a neck. His time of 2:00 minutes was the fastest in the Derby's 90-year history.
Canadians danced in the streets. The mayor of Toronto awarded the colt the key to the city, and sportswriters voted Northern Dancer Athlete of the Year.
When Armbro Flight retired from racing, she did so as the greatest money winning trotting mare of all time. She had established no fewer than five world records, and was three-time Canadian Horse of the Year between 1964 and 1966 - a feat no other horse since has been able to achieve.
Already a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Armbro Flight will be inducted into the Hall of the Immortals at the Goshen, New York Harness Racing Museum on July 4, 1999.
When he retired in 1994, Big Ben was a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame with a staggering record of show-jumping accomplishments. He had earned more than 40 career grand-prix victories, competed in three Olympic Games, and was the first horse ever to win the World Cup Final twice.
Together, Big Ben and rider Ian Millar won more than $1.5 million in prize money. They are the only horse-and-rider combination to take consecutive World-Cup titles and the first to secure the World Cup by winning all three segments of the competition.
Born on the prairie grasslands, Kingsway Skoal grew in the wild as just one of a group, but it soon became clear to the owners of the Franklin Ranch that he was remarkable.
Kingsway Skoal first caught public attention during the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. Rodeo was staged as a cultural event and, during the festivities, he was awarded a special Gold Medal for his performance. That was just the start. From then on, Kingsway Skoal took every major award there is in professional rodeo.
Now retired, Kingsway Skoal will long be remembered as one of the greatest Canadian horses of all time.
Celebrating a Great Tradition
True natives of North America, horses for centuries lent their power and strength to farm work and transportation in Canada. With the advent of mechanical power, they became prized instead for their speed and specialized competitive talents. This new series, while focused on four particular animals honoured in Canada, celebrates the many great racehorses, show jumpers and rodeo horses Canada has bred.
The Designer Speaks
"Since these horses were known for their performance ... it was important that they be shown in action. Colour photo documentation of these horses at work was quite rare in some cases. For example, there was not a single colour photo of Ambro Flight in a harness race. I was able to solve this problem with the kind assistance of the owners of the Armstrong Brothers farm. They were able to find two colour photos of a sulky similar to those used during that era, and provided me with clothing worn by a jockey. Using these items, I was able to transform the black and white photo of Ambro Flight in full stride into a colour drawing."