For decades, there was an unwritten code among backpackers off to see Europe or other parts of the world: if you want to be treated well, simply wear a Canadian flag on your pack or shirt. Canadians are known the world over for their politeness, their tolerance and their fairness—and wearing that little red and white symbol ensured that a traveller would be greeted with courtesy and respect.
Just stop for a moment to consider how many items—within the country and abroad—bear our impressive Maple Leaf. The sheer number of places where the Canadian flag is found was the creative impetus to this stamp series—five stamps that only scratch the surface of how ubiquitous our flag really is.
According to Liz Wong, Stamp Design Manager for the series, the challenge was to take a very common but much beloved image like the flag, an image people are familiar with seeing on a stamp, but approach it in a fresh new way and present the flag in ways in which it’s actually used. “Even though you can see the flag in use everyday, whether it’s on the sleeve of the young soldier beside you on the bus or even flying over your local post office—do you really see it—or is it just there? The Canadian Pride series draws your attention to both the common—and uncommon—places the flag appears, which makes you more aware of its presence in your own life, your own landscape.”
The five Permanent™ domestic stamps in this year’s issue demonstrate both personal and official appearances of the flag; on a traveller’s backpack, a hot air balloon, the Canadarm, and both a Canadian soldier’s and a search and rescue expert’s uniforms.
The stylized “O” (for “O Canada”) not only acts as a symbol of our national anthem, it also serves as a means of focusing attention on the flag and its surroundings. According to Lionel Gadoury, of Toronto’s Context Creative, the location or usage of the flag was a huge factor in determining what images would speak to Canadians. “We asked ourselves, what is it about Canada’s Maple Leaf that makes our hearts soar? Yes, we have a flag like no other—a magnificent red maple leaf on a crisp white background, with red borders down each side. It is a powerful graphic that stands out at home and around the world, but we realized that the context of where we see it also speaks volumes and stirs the soul. This was our inspirational starting point as we sought quintessential images for this definitive stamp series. O Canada, our national anthem and most patriotic poem, also struck a creative chord and took the theme to the next level. The giant typographic ‘O’ became a lens, focusing attention on the emblematic display of the maple leaf as it is carried far and wide.”
Stamp Design Manager Liz Wong adds that “every stamp we produce reflects the people, places and things that we as Canadian are most proud of. Every stamp is an act of pride. With this series, we were able to make a very literal interpretation of that pride by showing our flag as it is seen by us and by others daily. And by framing the visual with the “O” of “O Canada, this stamp series is totally and unapologetically patriotic.”