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Willie O'Ree

Stamp Info

Name Value
Date of Issue October 30, 2023
Year 2023
Quantity 780,000
Current monetary value: $0.92.
Postal Administration Canada

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Booklet of 6 Stamps

Quantity Produced - 130,000
Original Purchase Price: $5.52
Perforation: Simulated perforation
Dimension: 30mm (W) x 42 (H)
Printer: Colour Innovations
Printing Process: BLACK, 2330 + 1235
Gum Type: Pressure sensitive
Tagging: General tagging, four sides
Paper: Tullis Russell
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Official First Day Cover

Quantity Produced - 7,000
Original Purchase Price: $1.92
Cancellation Location: Fredericton NB
Dimension: 190 mm x 112 mm
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About Stamp

This stamp honours Willie O’Ree, a true trailblazer as the first Black hockey player in the National Hockey League® (NHL®). This remarkable stamp pays homage to both his incredible legacy and his outstanding achievements in working to make hockey more diverse and inclusive.

Good to know:

  • Limited availability: Only 130,000 Willie O’Ree stamp booklets are available

Honouring Canadian athletes:

Canada Post has a rich tradition of celebrating the groundbreaking contributions of Canadian athletes, recognizing many through stamps, including the Women in Winter Sports (2018), Canadian Hockey Legends (2013-2017), and Toronto Maple Leaf’s 100th Anniversary (2017).

About Willie O’Ree:

Willie O'Ree's life story is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and unwavering passion for his sport.

Born in 1935 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, his journey from a young boy's love of the game to becoming a pioneer of inclusivity in the NHL has left an indelible mark on the sport.

Early life and introduction to hockey

Willie O'Ree's lifelong love of hockey began at just three years of age. As he grew, his talent for the sport became increasingly evident. His remarkable athletic abilities extended beyond the ice, and as a gifted baseball player, in 1956, he was scouted by the Milwaukee Braves. Despite his potential in baseball, a pivotal moment occurred during tryouts in Georgia, where he experienced racial segregation for the first time. Ultimately, O'Ree chose to return to his hometown of Fredericton, dedicating himself entirely to hockey.

Professional career and NHL debut

In 1956, O'Ree embarked on his professional hockey career with the Quebec Aces. This minor league team had an agreement with the NHL's Boston Bruins to provide players when needed. On January 18, 1958, O'Ree broke barriers when he made his NHL debut, becoming the first Black person to play in an NHL game, with the Boston Bruins winning 3-0 against the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum.

O'Ree's historic journey continued on January 1, 1961, when he scored his first NHL goal in a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first Black player to score a goal in the NHL.

Following his remarkable 21-year career, which included 45 games in two seasons with the Bruins, O'Ree retired from the San Diego Hawks of the Pacific Hockey League in 1979.

Impact beyond the ice

Willie O'Ree's contributions to hockey extend far beyond the ice. In 1998, the NHL recognized his dedication by appointing him as director of youth development and ambassador for NHL diversity. O'Ree's passion for promoting inclusion and diversity in hockey led to the establishment of 39 grassroots hockey programs under the "Hockey Is for Everyone" initiative. His tireless efforts have inspired thousands of boys and girls from diverse backgrounds to embrace the sport.

Honours and legacy

Throughout his life, O'Ree received numerous awards, including the Order of New Brunswick in 2005, the Member of the Order of Canada in 2008, and induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2020-21.

In 2018, the NHL established the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award to recognize “an individual who – through the game of hockey – has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society.”

Documentary and memoir

In 2019, the release of the documentary Willie allowed audiences to gain a deeper insight into his journey. Featuring interviews with O'Ree and other notable figures in hockey, such as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Wayne Simmonds, and Wayne Gretzky, the documentary illuminated O'Ree's enduring legacy.

In 2020, Willie O'Ree co-authored a memoir titled Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL's First Black Player with Michael McKinley. This poignant memoir offers readers a more personal look at O'Ree's life both on and off the ice, providing a deeper understanding of his incredible journey and the impact he's had.

About the design:

This issue is illustrated by Mike McQuade and designed by Underline. It combines white, black and yellow and features a recent photograph, capturing O’Ree’s enduring presence. Inset is a photo from his early playing days, juxtaposing past and present.

  • Stamp: The stamp is a vibrant collage-themed creation. It showcases a portrait picture of O’Ree in his later years, wearing a hat, smiling and looking to the left. Alongside is an inset action picture of him playing hockey in his early playing days. “Willie O’Ree” text is prominently displayed in the bottom left corner.
  • Booklet exterior: The booklet's cover continues the same collage and colour theme as the stamp. It features multiple black and white photos of O’Ree’s career moments. “Willie O’Ree” text is positioned in the bottom left corner. The rear of the booklet provides historical insights about O’Ree.
  • Booklet interior: Inside the booklet, a captivating visual timeline highlights key milestones in O’Ree’s life and career including archival black and white photos from his hockey career. At the bottom, the six stamps are arranged in a row.


Stamp Designer: Underline Studio. Stamp Illustrator: Mike McQuade. Photography: Philip Cheung.

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