This stamp has micro-text hidden within the design. The micro-text reads "Living Flag".
It’s no small secret that travelling Canadians sew the iconic maple leaf on backpacks and luggage. But our desire to show our pride begins at home where Canadians from across the country display our colours in ways limited only by imagination. In this year’s set of five Permanent™ domestic-rate definitives, our flag proudly adorns the everyday activities of Canadians.
“I wanted to try to represent as many different regions of Canada as possible as well as different seasons. We’ve got images from the prairies, inland, and the coast, as well as summer, fall and winter,” explains designer Karen Smith. “Hopefully anyone who looks at the five of them can identify closely with at least one.”
Smith’s designs not only span the country geographically, but also show a broad cross-section of Canadian activities. The set of five stamps features essentially Canadian scenes with our flag uniquely displayed. In one, three Muskoka chairs lounge on a dock facing a lake in early fall, evoking Canadian cottages from coast to coast. The chairs reappear on the souvenir sheet, this time with the puffy, whimsical clouds of summer dotting the sky. The fall colours are recalled by the golden hue of a very Canadian hay bale that waits in a prairie field at harvest time. On the East Coast, just outside Halifax, a spinnaker fills with a summer breeze representing the Canadian sails and flags that fill our waterways each season. This same spinnaker is shown again on the OFDC, this time with an iconic East Coast lighthouse in the background. During Canada Day celebrations in Winnipeg more than 3,000 patriotic Canadians gather on the lawn of the provincial legislature to form a living flag, challenging a record held by Victoria, British Columbia. Finally, a lone fishing hut brings a splash of colour on a clear day to a frozen Lake Scugog, Ontario.
Even though these definitives share a concept with past issues, Smith strove to keep the series fresh. “When I started sketching, I didn’t look at the previous set. I was thinking of interesting uses for the Canadian flag that you wouldn’t normally see.”
The result is a series of stamps showing our flag in abstract, unusual ways. The chairs, the spinnaker, and the hut all reflect our determination to show the Canadian colours, even where a traditional flag won’t fit, while the hay bale and the living flag reflect a sense of work, cooperation, community – values Canadians proudly hold dear.
As a veteran of designing commemorative issues, Smith points out that the definitives are a different design challenge compared to single-topic issues. “The definitives are more involved. With a commemorative stamp, you’re typically commemorating one event. It’s very focused. With the definitives, it’s pretty wide open with regard to how the flag is shown. It’s just a matter of how creative you can get.”
“We’re all proud to be Canadians,” says Stamp Design Manager Liz Wong, “and we all want to show that in whatever way we can. That’s what these definitives do. They show us that there’s no limit to our imagination when we want to show our pride.”
This year’s cancellation in Winnipeg, Manitoba recognizes the Canada Day revellers who created the living flag.