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"Do well by doing good." Benjamin Franklin featured on Canada Post's 250th anniversary stamp

By WcP.Story.Teller - Posted on 09 June 2013

stamp marking the 250th anniversary of Canada Post featuring a portrait of Franklin
Stamp marking the 250th anniversary of the first formalized postal service in Canada, initiated in June 1763 by Benjamin Franklin, then the Philadelphia-based postmaster for Britain’s colonies in North America. The stamp features a portrait of Franklin and a vintage scene of Quebec City.

Benjamin Franklin - the man who was called ‘the harmonious human multitude’

by turns pamphleteer, apprentice, printer, balladeer, inventor, philosopher, politician, soldier, firefighter, ambassador, family man, sage, delegate, signer, shopkeeper, bookseller, cartoonist, grandfather, anti-slavery agitator, Mason, and deist - Benjamin Franklin was all of the above and none of the above

"Do well by doing good." - Benjamin Franklin

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." - Benjamin Franklin


A landmark stamp to be issued Monday by Canada Post to commemorate the 250th anniversary of formalized mail delivery in this country will feature a portrait of - huh? - American history icon Benjamin Franklin, the famed inventor, diplomat, philosopher and Founding Father of the United States.

But the Canadian postal tribute to Franklin - plotter of the would-be conquest of Quebec during the Revolutionary War - is not some colossal printing error.

The new stamp recognizes the fact that Franklin, as deputy postmaster of Britain’s North American colonies in the 1750s and 1760s - prior to the U.S. fight for independence - personally inaugurated a post office in Halifax in 1753 and later initiated the first official mail service between Quebec, Trois-Rivières and Montreal on June 10, 1763, exactly 250 years ago on Monday.

“He’s noted for his contributions in the U.S.,” Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton told Postmedia News. “But in Canada, to say that postal service really started with a guy named Benjamin Franklin - yes, that Benjamin Franklin - it catches a lot of people off guard. It’s a reminder of how big a role he had to play in laying the foundation what we enjoy today.”

Franklin, a newspaper publisher by trade, had begun serving as Philadelphia’s postmaster in 1737 and eventually organized postal service throughout the British colonies in North America. In 1763, following Britain’s victory over New France in the Seven Years’ War, Franklin travelled to Quebec City and hired merchant Hugh Finlay to run mail delivery between Quebec, Montreal and Trois Rivières.

The stamp being issued Monday shows Franklin’s portrait superimposed on a vintage scene of Quebec City. Finlay’s watermark symbol of a horse and rider - the chief means of mail delivery in 1763 - appears at the top the new stamp.

Via New York and other routes, Canada’s fledgling postal system was soon integrated in a continent-spanning delivery network that stretched as far south as Florida, while Halifax remained an important hub for mail being shipped between North America and Britain.

Franklin’s starring role on Canada Post’s 250th anniversary stamp follows many such tributes to the renowned statesman in the United States. His portrait is featured on the U.S. $100 bill and his image appeared on the first American postage stamp - issued in 1847 - in recognition of his appointment as the first U.S. postmaster in July 1775, a year before he helped write and signed the Declaration of Independence. Hamilton notes that the new stamp celebrating Canada Post’s 18th-century roots comes at a time of major upheaval for the Crown corporation. A recent Conference Board of Canada report commissioned by Canada Post highlighted how declining volumes of letter mail and the “rapid expansion of e-commerce” are making parcel delivery ever-more central to the postal service’s future.


Photo courtesy Canada Post, Wikipedia,,,, and Time

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Franklin's territory was the northern British colonies in America. Co-deputy postmaster William Hunter oversaw the colonies from Maryland south. In the north, Franklin's area included the island of Newfoundland and mainland Nova Scotia (not Cape Breton, which was in New France) beginning with his appointment in 1753. After the Conquest, his area expanded to include Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec, which stretched far west and included today's southern Ontario. He initiated post offices in Montreal, Trois-Riviere and Quebec City, with service between them and to New York. He was dismissed in January 1774 for his rebel sympathies.

Franklin's responsibility was only for northern British colonies in America, north of Maryland. Co-deputy postmaster William Hunter, based in Williamsburg, Virginia, took care of southern colonies.
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