OTTAWA, ON: A former local resident and musician has been immortalized by Canada Post.
On July 21, Canada Post released a stamp celebrating folksinger Stan Rogers.
“We wanted something that would be really special, that would really honour and pay tribute to the man and his legend, and something that his fans, because there still are a lot of them, and his family, would be very proud of, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” Jim Phillips, Director of Stamp Services told The Reporter.
Phillips said the process for this stamp was the same as it was for others.
“Basically we have suggestions, they come from, I would say 80 per cent from the public, and people have been writing us about Stan for quite some time,” Phillips said. “They come from my own research team, and they come from other inter-governmental commemoration committees. All of those suggestions for stamps go to the Canadian Stamp Advisory Committee.”
Founded in 1969, Phillips said the 12-member committee of people from around the country – including historians, professors, archivists, graphic designers, artists, and stamp collectors – meets a few times a year, and is there to advise Canada Post on the subject and design of new stamps, which is then sent to the Canada Post Board of Directors.
In this case, he said the idea for a Stan Rogers stamp was brought to the advisory committee years ago, and the committee agreed.
“They take the recommendations of the Stamp Advisory Committee extremely seriously and that’s what happened in this case,” Phillips said.
In addition to honouring Rogers and his art, Phillips said there’s an educational aspect to this selection.
“It’s really to honour this great Canadian folksinger/artist, but also there’s an educational element because there’s many, many, many people in Canada, especially younger generations, they have no idea who Stan is or what he represents,” he said.
As part of the Balance Program for 2021, Phillips said the committee “whole-heartedly” supported the stamp, then Canada Post reached out to his widow Ariel Rogers to make sure the family was supportive.
Once the board approves a stamp, Phillips said the research portion of the project starts, including photographic, written and historic research, which includes again engaging with the family.
“We’ll be talking and looking at a number of ideas; if there’s things they wanted to avoid, if there’s photos he didn’t like, if there’s images he did love particularly, or his family, then we would kind of focus on those, and then we would commission professional design firms from across Canada, usually two or three design firms, who would come up with a couple of concepts each,” he explained.
Once those concepts are identified, Phillips said they go back to the committee, even though they are quite “rough” at that point in time.
“They vote on those concepts, and they discuss them, and provide feedback,” he noted. “They would look at different concepts; whether they were photographic or illustrative, or what have you. It could be him in concert, it could be a photoshoot, it could be all kinds of things. It could be him around a kitchen table.”
Once the committee makes its final decision, then the work with the designer and the family starts, Phillips said. He said this is an important part of the process.
“We start to work on refining all sorts of things, and then working on the photograph,” he said. “In this case, we illustrated it to really bring Stan out and really make some lasting work of art.”
Born on November 29, 1949, in Hamilton, Ontario, Rogers grew up in a musical family and taught himself how to play guitar at the age of five, Canada Post said in a press release. They went on to note that as a boy, he spent his summers in Guysborough County where his mother grew up, and his time there, inspired his love of maritime life and music.
Known for his lively stage performances and rich baritone voice, Canada Post said Rogers’ songs were deeply personal, recounting the experiences, joys and sorrows of ordinary Canadians. They said he attracted a growing following with the 1976 release of his first album, Fogarty’s Cove, and the raucous sea shanty, “Barrett’s Privateers.” Canada Post said the title track from Northwest Passage, released in 1981, is considered one of the best songs ever produced in Canada and has become an unofficial anthem.
Canada Post said Rogers has been likened to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie and described as one of the most talented singer-songwriters in North America by some of folk music’s biggest stars. He released four albums before his tragic death in an airplane fire in Kentucky on June 2, 1983, at the age of 33, Canada Post said, noting that another seven albums were released posthumously.
Canada Post said the issue includes a booklet of 10 Permanent™ domestic rate stamps, an Official First Day Cover (OFDC) and a limited edition framed stamp enlargement and OFDC. Designed by Steven Slipp and printed by Lowe-Martin, Canada Post said the stamp features an illustration by Peter Strain, who worked from two photographs: one by Paul Coates of Rogers performing at the Calgary Folk Festival in the early 1980s; and another by Darren Calabrese of Fogarty’s Cove – the name of Rogers’ debut album. Canada Post said the illustration on the front of the OFDC shows Rogers performing at the Dalhousie Arts Centre in Halifax in the early 1980s and was based on the cover of Rogers’ album, From Coffee House to Concert Hall (1999).
“When we work with the design firms, we’re not only working on the stamp, we’re working on the booklet cover, the colours, the inside, the background photo of Fogarty’s Cove, or there’s a bunch of song names that are throughout the inside of the stamp booklet where you’d buy the stamps, and on the Official First Day colour envelope,” Phillips detailed.
Phillips added that this stamp will be around for many years to come.
“This is a government-official recognized memorial piece that will be around for 100 years,” he added. “It will be a part of the National Heritage Record, it will be in library and Archives Canada, it will be in our annual year book of stamps at the end of the year. This is a fitting tribute for someone of Stan’s stature.”