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Commentary No. 62 - 17 August, 2004

Joint Stamp Issues of Canada

Stamps appeal to young and old. They provide a sense of history and geography. Thinking positively, we think that the practice by Canada and other countries of having joint issues is one of the most worthwhile ways that our postal authorities have responded to collectors. Most people who collect stamps have an international perspective because they usually collect stamps from a number of countries, at least at the start. In this context, to have two countries come together to produce identical stamps is both satisfying and appealing.

Canada's first joint issue - 1959

To our knowledge, Canada's first joint issue was this one with the United States.

It marked the 1959 opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, allowing ocean-going ships to sail up the St. Lawrence river and into the Great Lakes with Canadian and US ports as their destination. The occasion was widely celebrated in both countries. Attending on behalf of Canada was Queen Elizabeth and, on behalf of United States, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Canada - United States - 1976

It was 17 years before the next joint issue appeared with this stamp:

An identical stamp was issued in the United States. The stamps were issued to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of Independence in the U.S. Unlike the St. Lawrence Seaway issue, this was purely an U.S. event. But Canada joined with many other countries in celebrating it.

Canada - France - 1984

France was the second country to issue a stamp jointly with Canada. In 1984 the two countries marked the 350th anniversary of Jacques Cartier's landing in New France. In 1604, it took 3 months for Cartier's ship to cross the Atlantic.

This was the first time we can recall seeing a joint first day cover.

Canada - United States- 1984

In another first, Canada and the U.S. had a joint issue in June, 1984, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. This was the second joint issue celebrating the opening of the Seaway which took place in 1959. A joint first day cover was also issued.

Canada - Italy - 1997

This joint issue with Italy celebrated the 500 years that have passed since the discovery of Newfoundland by John Cabot and his crew aboard the ship "Matthew" in 1497. Click here (http// for a short history of the event as written by Amy Morgan a young grade 5 student from Gander, Newfoundland.

Canada - Australia - 1999

Canada and Australia then got together in 1999 to celebrate the World Stamp Exhibition held in Australia that year. Both stamps featured the ship Marco Polo. The story of the vessel can be seen on this website:

Canada - China - 2000

The next joint issue involved a commemoration of the life of Dr. Norman Bethune. Dr. Bethune, who lived from 1890 to 1939, was a Canadian doctor who spent much of his adult life in China. The people of China have shown a special appreciation of the medical care he provided in their country. Their post office participated in this joint issue with Canada by issuing a se-tenant pair of stamps with the same design.

Canada - Hong Kong - 2002

In 2002, Canada and Hong Kong issued four stamps jointly and a souvenir sheet. Interestingly, the perforations on the stamps in the souvenir sheet (13 ½ x13) were different from those on the regular issued stamps (12 ½ x 13). The stamps won third place for joint issues that year, awarded by the International Philatelic Society for Joint Stamp Issues. Not bad, considering that 60 countries participated in the competition with a total of 152 stamps and 15 souvenir sheets.

Canada -Thailand -2003

By 2003, it was clear that joint issues were catching on with postal administrations worldwide. The above souvenir sheet was issued to celebrate the International Philatelic Exhibition held in Bankok that year.

Canada - Norway - Greenland - 2004




By 2004, the practice of joint issues had expanded considerably. Not only were more countries getting involved, but sometimes three or four or more countries were involved in a single issue. The above joint issue between Canada, Norway and Greenland is a good example of this. It involved a most imaginative souvenir sheet used to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Norwegian explorer Otto Svendrup. He traveled through Canada's Arctic waters and was the first explorer to map much of Canada's northern geography. His maps were so accurate that Canada continued to use them until maps based on aerial reconnaissance became available. Each country issued an identical sheet, but with the differences you can see above in the Norwegian, Greenland and Canadian examples. All the sheets were printed in Denmark.

Canada -France 2004

Most recently, Canada and France marked the 400th anniversary of the first French settlement in Acadia at St. Croix Island, now an International Historic Site in Maine. The stamp features a portrait of Pierre Dugua, sieur de Mons, who sailed to the New World in the spring of 1604.


As our viewers can undoubtedly sense, we admire these joint issues. We like the fact that each one brings Canada and another country together to celebrate an important event. This is what friends do. We hope to see lots more.

Will the stamps ever have special value; should we go out and purchase large quantities? Quite honestly, we don't think so and who cares! It's the idea of a joint issue that is special. Let's celebrate the idea. We are just happy to buy a copy of each stamp for the sheer pleasure, because these joint issues are special. It's stamp collecting at its best. For our viewers' information, there is a website dedicated solely to the joint issues of the philatelic world. It may be viewed at:

PS if we have missed any of Canada's joint issues of which you are aware, please let us know, we'd appreciate it. (Since publishing this commentary in August 2004, we have heard about 3 additional joint issues. So we offer our thanks

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©2004, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada