Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fur Trade
Centennial Period

Postal history collecting presents interesting challenges from time to time. The Northwest Territories envelope tag which is the subject of today's posting is one such item.

The Government of the Northwest Territories envelope tag is labelled "FUR EXPORT TAX PERMIT ENCLOSED" and was likely attached to a shipment of furs. The stamps paying for the parcel post were affixed to the envelope tag rather than the address label (which I do not have).

Postage and Cancellation

The postage affixed to the label was $1.35. The use of the 1969 Christmas stamps establishes that the furs were shipped after October 8, 1969.

The stamps were cancelled at Fort Nelson, B.C., with an undated roller.


The furs may have been shipped from Fort Nelson to the Vancouver fur auction. The rate for a 10lb. parcel within the province was $1.35 in the 1969 period.

The furs could have been shipped by trappers or hunters.


Trappers from Fort Liard, Northwest Territories, also trapped in Northern B.C. They could have flown to Fort Nelson (no roads at the time) or travelled overland by snowmobile or dog team to mail their furs to Vancouver.


In the late 1960s, access to some outfitting areas in the Northwest Territories was through Fort Nelson. Hunters would have required export permits for wolverine pelts which they may have shipped from Fort Nelson.

This is one of those postal history questions for which a definitive answer is not possible. Nevertheless the envelope tag reminds us of our fur trading heritage, triggering images of trappers, dog teams, and very cold weather.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Canadian Postmasters Association
1965 Ontario Branch Conference Kingston

In May 1965, the Ontario Branch of the Canadian Postmasters Association (now the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association held its conference in Kingston. The Kingston Post Office had slogan cancellations made to celebrate the event. Until recently, I thought that only one slogan had been produced but that wasn't the case. At least two different slogans exist for this event.

Souvenir covers produced for the event show both slogans:


Kingston, May 16, 1965


Kingston, May 19, 1965

Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association

In 1902, postmasters in rural Manitoba formed a local organization to improve their working conditions. The organization grew to become the national Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association.  To commemorate the Association's 100th anniversary in 2002, Canada Post issued a domestic rate stamp featuring the 2 cent Victoria Numeral issue definitive which was the letter rate stamp when the Association was formed.

1934 Convention

The Canadian Postmasters held their 1934 convention in Windsor from June 25 to June 28.

Winsdor, June 28, 1934

Monday, April 2, 2012

Esmond Butler
Secretary to the Governor-General

Esmond Unwin Butler (1922 - 1989), one of the key developers of the Order of Canada, served six Canadian governors general over 31 years.

Born in Wawanesa, Manitoba, Butler served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the 1939 -45 war and saw service on the Murmansk run. After the war and studies, he worked as a journalist for United Press in Switzerland.

Assistant-Secretary to Vincent Massey

In 1955, he joined Governor-General Vincent Massey's staff. Butler was hired to deal with the press which had been critical of Massey's personality ("as prim as a glass of sherry") and his appointment (the London Times objected to the appointment of a Canadian to the govenor general's post). Butler spent two years with Massey.

Northern Tour 1956

In March, 1956, Butler accompanied Governor-General Massey on his "Northern Tour". The photograph shown below was taken at Resolute Bay, N.W.T.

Butler posing with Inuit child

Assistant Press Secretary to Queen Elizabeth (1958 -1959)

Queen Elizabeth, who was facing criticism from the Commonwealth that all her staff were British, asked Massey if Butler could join her staff as assistant press secretary. In 1958, Butler became the first Empire representative at the Palace serving Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace for 16 months. Butler spent holidays with the Royal family and while at the Palace met Georgiana North, niece of the Earl of Guilford, whom he married in 1960.

Secretary to Governors-General Vanier to Sauve (1959 - 1985)

Butler returned to Canada in 1959 as secretary to Georges Vanier. Butler's appointment was not without controversy. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker wanted to appoint his press secretary Jim Nelson, but Vanier did not want Diefenbaker's man in the position. The Queen's private secretary recommended Butler and the Queen herself may have recommended Butler to Diefenbaker. Butler was retained as Secretary by succeeding Governors-General Roland Michener, Jules Leger, Edward Shreyer and Jeanne Sauve. Madame Sauve replaced the tradition-bound Butler in 1985. Butler was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Morocco.

Order of Canada

In 1967, Butler was instrumental in the establishing of the Order of Canada, the country's highest honour which recognizes citizens for outstanding achievements or for exceptional contributions to the culture of the country.

Butler is shown coordinating the Order of Canada investitures in the photographs below.

Jules Leger receiving the Companion of the Order of Canada
August 2, 1973

Joyce Bryant and Governor General Jules VanierOctober 24, 1973

Lorraine Monk with Governor-General Roland Michener
October 24, 1973

Canada Post Official First Day Cover: Roland Michener Stamp

On October 21, 1992, Canada Post issued a pair of stamps commemorating the accomplishments of Governor-General Roland Michener.

The official first day cover cachet features a photograph of former Ontario Premier John Robarts receiving the Order of Canada from Roland Michener. Celarly seen in the background is Esmond Butler.

Esmond Butler Franking
Free mail privileges were granted to all letters sent from the Secretary to the Governor-General.

October 11, 1965
Governor -General Georges Vanier

Esmond Butler 1

October 25, 1967
Governor-General Roland Michener

Esmond Butler 3