Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Philatelic Phantoms: The Haunted Canada Collection

Canada has its own share of urban legends and spooky folklore, and sometimes even our own government entities like to celebrate this fact. On June 13th, 2014 (a Friday, of course!), Canada Post unveiled its latest set of spooky stamps, and being the collector that I am, I had to purchase at least part of the wide range of offerings. It's called the "Haunted Canada Collection," and although it's not quite as quirky as their "Haunted Stamp House" from 1997, it's still a worthwhile investment for those who are interested in such homegrown horrors.

Central to this collection are five ghost tales from across the country: the Ghost Bride (Alberta), St. Louis Ghost Train (Saskatchewan), Fort George (Ontario), Count of Frontenac (Quebec), and the Burning Ship of Northumberland Strait (the Maritimes). The tri-fold display opens to reveal short blurbs about each legend, and includes one sample of each stamp--which are digitally printed and have a luminous sheen (this looks really cool, but unfortunately doesn't reproduce well when scanned). The set also includes a special 25-cent piece from the Canadian Mint, which features a lenticular image of the Ghost Bride; when tilted, her eyes open and close! This coin was available for purchase directly from the Mint, but as of this writing, it's sold out.

Here's a detailed look at each stamp, which were designed by Lionel Gadoury with illustrations by Sam Weber (the text is courtesy of Canada Post):

The Ghost Bride of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Built in Alberta in 1888, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel's paranormal offering includes the mysterious missing Room 873, a headless bagpiper seen roaming the halls, and Sam, the ghostly bellhop. But its most haunting tale originates in the 1920s, when on her wedding day, a bride caught the heel of her shoe on the long train of her dress and tumbled down the stairs to a tragic end. There are reports of noises from the vacant bridal suite, and a figure with a long, flowing dress descending from the stairs.

St. Louis Ghost Train

For more than 80 years, on an old rail bed north of St. Louis, Saskatchewan, a ghostly glowing light has appeared out of nowhere. Believers claim it's the ghost of along dead CNR conductor who literally lost his head back in the 1920s to a passing train, while examining the tracks with his lantern.

Despite the fact that the rail line was closed and tracks were removed, locals will tell you that the blazing Ghost Train of St. Louis can still be seen almost every night.

Château Frontenac Hotel

The castle-like Fairmont Château Frontenac Hotel, built in 1893 by William Van Horne (General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway), is said to be one of Quebec's most haunted sites. The hotel's most famous--and active--otherworldly resident is French Governor Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, for whom the hotel is named. He has been spotted dressed in his 17th century garb, wandering the hotel halls, sitting on windowsills or floating through the ballroom--and apparently he gets agitated when renovations occur.

Fort George

Built by the British in the late 1790s, Niagara-on-the-Lake's Fort George was key to British defences, and headquarters for the British Army during the War of 1812. It was also once occupied by the enemy, and the site of some of that war's bloodiest battles.

A young soldier is said to haunt the barracks' top floor. A mysterious young woman brushes her hair then disappears into a mirror in the officer's quarters, and a ghostly little girl follows tour groups--one daring to take the hand of a guide.

Northumberland Strait

With more than 4,500 shipwrecks in the Northumberland Strait, which flows between Prince Edward Island to the north and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to the south, it's a water grave for countless seafarers.

For the past 200 years, locals have claimed to see a burning ship in the strait. On several occasions, onlookers have tried to rescue the ship, thinking it real and on fire. But as soon as the would-be rescuers come close, the ship disappears into the mist.

Interesting, eh? There are also several other items available for purchase in this collection, including: a set of five, postage-paid postcards; a souvenir sheet official first day cover (OFDC), with the cancellation site of Gorrie, Ontario; and a booklet of 10 domestic stamps (which can be purchased at any post office).

Haunted Canada: Souvenir Sheet Official First Day Cover (OFDC)

The good thing about buying this online, directly from Canada Post, is that domestic shipping is free! What's even better is that this is the first of a three-year series that will showcase some of Canada's most interesting ghost stories. To keep up with the latest spooky offerings from Canada Post, I suggest bookmarking

For those interested in finding out more about these legends, or even visiting the sites themselves, here's a list of related links:

Here are some more scans of the collection:


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