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50 years of polio vaccination in Canada

Stamp Info

Name Value
Date of Issue September 2, 2005
Year 2005
Quantity 2,500,000
Perforation or Dimension 12.5 x 13
Printer Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.
Postal Administration Canada

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Stamp Values/Prices (Beta Mode*)

Condition Name Avg Price
M-NH-VF Mint - Never Hinged - Very Fine
Mint - Never Hinged - Very Fine $0.95
U-VF Used - Very Fine
Used - Very Fine $0.30
* Notes about these prices:
  • They are currently in beta mode, meaning that they should not be relied upon yet as a source of truth and could change frequently. Please notify PSG if you come across values that do not make sense.
  • They are not based on catalogue values but on current dealer and auction listings. The reason for this is that catalogues tend to over-value stamps.
  • They are average prices and might not be fully accurate. The actual value of your stamp may be slightly above or below the listed value, depending on the overall condition of your stamp.


Pane of 16 stamps

Quantity Produced - 156,250
Original Price: $8.00
Perforation: 13+
Dimension: 35 mm x 48 mm (horizontal)
Printing Process: Lithography in 8 colours
Gum Type: P.V.A.
Tagging: General, 4 sides
Paper: Tullis Russell Coatings

Official First Day Cover

Quantity Produced - Unknown
Cancellation Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Original Price: $1.50
Perforation: 13+
Dimension: 35 mm x 48 mm (horizontal)
Printing Process: Lithography in 8 colours
Gum Type: P.V.A.
Tagging: General, 4 sides
Paper: Tullis Russell Coatings

About Stamp

Joyful. Exuberant. Fun. The eradication of one of the most feared diseases of the first half of the 20th century is celebrated with joie de vivre in a colourful domestic rate (50¢) stamp marking the 50th anniversary of Canada's program of universal polio vaccination.

"We didn't want a sombre message," says Liz Wong, Manager, Stamp Design and Production, Canada Post. "We wanted to focus on the benefits that exist now. It's something to celebrate."

When first briefed about the project, Toronto graphic designer Debbie Adams figured she had a difficult challenge ahead. To create a positive image that would celebrate the achievement of the polio vaccine, Adams realized she needed to talk about success, "and that success," she says, "is really all about children."

During the 1930s, '40s and '50s, polio epidemics ravaged North America. For mothers and fathers, polio was a dreaded disease that could steal a child's life or leave a child permanently paralyzed.

"This stamp features colourful silhouettes of six children, three girls and three boys of various ages, jumping and playing," explains Adams. "It illustrates in a positive way that, as a result of the polio vaccine, children are free from the fear of contracting this debilitating disease."

A pair of discarded leg braces serves as a reminder of what life was like before the vaccine. "The reality of 3-D crutches cast off in a corner of the stamp, as though tossed aside, juxtaposed with the silhouette of children playing raucously, with one image and colour leading into the next, makes an interesting contrast," Adams notes.

At the height of the epidemic, Canadian scientists played an integral part in the development of a polio vaccine. It was in the University of Toronto's Connaught Medical Research laboratories that methods for mass-producing the polio virus for use in a vaccine created by Dr. Jonas Salk were devised. Both Canada and the U.S. began conducting field trials in April 1954. A year later, however, the entire U.S. vaccination program was halted after 79 children who had received vaccine produced by an American laboratory contracted polio. The Canadian government was faced with a tough decision. Paul Martin Sr., Canada's Minister of Health and Welfare, had strong personal reasons for wanting the vaccination program to continue. He himself had contracted polio in 1907, and his son, Paul Martin Jr., the current Prime Minister, had overcome the disease in 1946. Thus, Martin decided to continue the mass vaccinations, and Canada's confidence in the Salk vaccine renewed confidence around the world.

Five short decades after the introduction of the Salk vaccine, polio has been defeated in most countries. This special commemorative stamp acknowledges Canada's leadership role and pays tribute to Dr. Salk's vision that "hope lies in dreams, in imagination, in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality."


Designed and illustrated by Debbie Adams.

Similar Stamps


Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamp Details, Vol. 14, No. 3, 2005, p. 24-25.

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