Canada’s close associations, traditions, and triumphs in the Olympic and Paralympic Games are celebrated on the final two stamps revealed in the Canada 150 series.
The permanent (domestic first-class) stamps, like the previous eight, are in the shape of a maple leaf. The last two stamps in the set were unveiled today in a ceremony in Vancouver. All 10 officially went on sale today, June 1, in a variety of formats. The stamps celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial by presenting landmark achievements and personalities since the centennial was marked in 1967.
Both stamps unveiled today show gold medal-winning alpine skiers: Alexandre Bilodeau, of Montreal; and Lauren Woolstencroft, 35, of North Vancouver.
The modern Summer and Winter Olympics and Paralympics are held every four years. Canada has hosted one Summer Olympics — Montreal in 1976; and two Winter Olympic Games — Calgary in 1988 and Vancouver in 2010. Vancouver also hosted the 2010 Winter Paralympics and Toronto hosted the 1976 Paralympic Summer Games.
The ceremony today focused on the importance and legacy of Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic movements.
Freestyle skier Bilodeau became the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal on home ground at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
Before the Vancouver Games, Canadian Olympians had the odd distinction of not winning gold on home soil, despite playing host to two previous Olympic Games. When Bilodeau nailed his final run in the men’s moguls, he won Canada’s first gold of the 2010 Games. At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Bilodeau, who turns 30 this year, became the first Olympian in history to defend his gold medal in any freestyle skiing event.
Bilodeau is a three-time FIS World Champion in dual moguls, and is also a two-time World silver medalist in moguls. He captured the FIS World Cup championship in the 2008-09 season.
The stamp shows an image of Bilodeau celebrating his gold-medal run and the dates “1976, 1988, and 2010” and the words “Olympic Games” and Les Jeux Olympiques.”
The second stamp shows an image of Woolstencroft, who grew up in Calgary, making a ski run, the dates “1976, 2010” — the two years Canada hosted the Paralympics — and the words “Paralympic Glory” and La glorie paralympique.”
Woolstencroft, 35, of Calgary, competed in the 2002 and 2006 Paralympics, winning three gold medals, a silver and a bronze in alpine skiing. She capped off her Paralympic Games legacy in grand style at the 2010 Games in Vancouver by winning five gold medals – in the giant slalom, slalom, Super-G, downhill and super combined. She was the first Canadian to win three gold medals in the Games.
Woolstencroft, an electrical engineer, was born missing her left arm below the elbow as well as both legs below the knees. She began skiing at the age of 4 and began competitive skiing at the age of 14.
Woolstencroft and Arnold Boldt, a high jump gold medalist at the 1976 Paralympics in Toronto, and in 1980 a world champion, helped unveil the stamp. Boldt, who lost his right leg in a farming accident at the age of 3, won seven golds in Paralympian competition as a jumper and returned to compete in 2012 as a cyclist in the Summer Games.
Figure skater Joannie Rochette, 31, who won the bronze medal at the Vancouver Games under tragic conditions, helped unveil the Olympics stamp today. As she was about to skate her short program in the competition she learned that her mother had died upon arrival to see her daughter compete. Rochette elected to continue skating and turned in a personal best in the short program, Two days later she won the bronze medal.
The Summer Paralympics, designed for individuals with disabilities, began in 1960 after the Summer Olympic Games in Rome, Italy. The Winter Paralympics began in 1976 in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. The Winter Paralympics, held every four years, are now hosted by the city that hosted the Winter Olympics. Participants include amputees, those with cerebral palsy, wheelchair athletes, and those with visual impairments.
Other stamps in the Canada 150 set are Expo 67/Habitat, the patriation of the Constitution and creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadarm (space achievements), Marriage Equality, the Trans-Canada Highway, Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope, the creation of the Territory of Nunavut, and Team Canada’s victory in the 1972 Canada-Soviet hockey series. Details are available at canadapost.ca/canada150.