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Centenary of the Letter Carrier Delivery Service

Stamp Info

Name Value
Date of Issue June 11, 1974
Year 1974
Quantity 5,263,200
Perforation or Dimension 13.5 x 13
Series Centenary of the Letter Carrier Delivery Service
Series Time Span 1974
Printer Ashton-Potter Limited.
Postal Administration Canada

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Official First Day Cover - 2 Stamps

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Official First Day Cover - 6 Stamps

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About Stamp

Canada's first "postmen" - unofficial of course - were the Indian runners who carried messages between neighbouring tribes using wampum beads. The official runner of the Iroquois tribe, for example, carried a string of white wampum beads if the message was of peace, prosperity or goodwill, and blue beads for war, disaster or death. During the days of the fur trade, voyageurs, coureurs de bois andIndian couriers carried mails and messages to the few fur factors, government officials and missionaries in outlying areas. Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary at Huronia on Georgian Bay, wrote his journals (1625-39) of an Indian courier who memorized twenty business transactions in detail. The courier arrived in Montréal, transmitted them, and, at the end of the eight hundred mile round trip, gave Brébeuf the answers he received on each transaction. The first official letter carrier in Canada, appointed in 1705, was a Portugese Canadian, Pedro da Silva, Jacques Raudot, the Indendant of New France, commissioned da Silva to carry the Governor's despatches between Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal. Da Silva bolstered his salary by carrying private letters at a fee which he based on the distance travelled; he charged ten cents to convey a lettre from Québec to Montréal. Before a postal system was available, anyone in New France who wished to send mail to Europe arranged with friends in Québec to take their letters to the captain of an outgoing ship. Friends would also pick up incoming letters and arrange for their delivery by da Silva or some other hired person. In 1851, the provinces took over from the United Kingdom full responsibility for administering the postal service. In that same year, the first Canadian stamps for prepayment of postage were issued. These included the famous red "three penny beaver" designed by Sir Sandford Fleming. With Confederation in 1867 the Canada Post Office was formed and took over the responsibilities of the provinces in postal matters. Uniform postal rates were established and the practice of prepayment of mail was enforced with fines being charged for mail that was not prepaid. At that time, letter carrier delivery service was available in certain large cities. For this service, however, in addition to the postage paid by the sender, the recipient had to pay to the letter carrier upon delivery a charge of two cents on each letter and one cent on each newspaper. The only exception was Halifax where free letter carrier service had been established by the Nova Scotia Post Office Department in 1851. On October 1, 1874, free letter carrier delivery service was introduced by the Canada Post Office in Montréal. The following year, Toronto, Québec, Ottawa and Hamilton also received this service. The system of free delivery facilitated the interchange of local and business correspondence, provided prompt delivery of letters and papers thereby reducing the number of letters which would have previously remained at the Post Office until claimed, and saved a great amount of travel to and from the Post Office. Today in Canada there are over eleven thousand letter carriers serving over five million points of call. On a given day, a letter carrier on a residential route covers from seven to ten miles with approximately four hundred points of call. During one year, a letter carrier on a residential route will walk over twenty-thousand hundred miles. This year, 1974, marks the centenary of the introduction of letter carrier delivery service. On this occasion, six stamps, designed by Stephen Mennie, will be issued honouring all postal workers of the Canada Post Office today.


Designed by Stephen Mennie

Similar Stamps


Canada. Post Office Department. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1974.

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