The hidden date for this stamp can be found on the right side of the college's emblem.
One rainy afternoon in November of 2003, photographer Guy Lavigueur found himself pacing the grounds of Cumming Hall at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, searching for an unobstructed camera angle under very low light conditions. Photographing a building is not always as simple as it might seem.
On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Canada Post is issuing a domestic rate (50¢) stamp, another in its ongoing series celebrating this country's educational institutions. The main building on campus has been a primary feature of all the stamps in this series, but photographing these often historic structures has not been without its challenges, as Lavigueur discovered. Cumming Hall is a wonderful example of the architecture of the early 1900s, with many interesting architectural features. But as it turned out, from almost every angle the building is partially obscured by the apparatus of modern living.
"The campus in Truro, Nova Scotia, is a beautiful site," says designer Denis L'Allier. "But there are four large flagpoles positioned right in front of Cumming Hall, and prominent floodlights and wires visible on its roof. And because a parking lot is also located in front of the building, we couldn't find a camera angle that didn't also show cars and 'no parking' signs. So in the end, we had to retouch these out of the photo."
Unnecessary details can be problematic when a photograph is reduced to stamp size - the smallest features become microscopic, sometimes appearing as flaws in the photo. "You have to remove unwelcome details that might distract the eye from the overall simplicity of the image," says L'Allier.
On that unpleasant November day, Lavigueur managed to capture a photograph of Cumming Hall that didn't require extensive retouching. It appears on the stamp with the college's heraldic coat of arms, against a background that displays its colours in a billowing style reminiscent of a flag flying or academic robes in motion.
All these design elements are common to stamps in the series. In each case, the building is clearly the focal point, on the stamp as on campus.
Now a local landmark, Cumming Hall was the original home of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College when it opened on a 100-acre farm outside Truro on February 14, 1905. The college originally offered courses in agricultural studies, but it now offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as technical diplomas, all based on the time-tested philosophy that agriculture is the science of life.