Canadian Meteorological Postage Stamps

There have been only three issuances of Canadian postage stamps commemorating meteorological history, anniversaries or related areas.  Descriptions of these follow.

Credit and source for this page is Canada Post's philatelic photos and archived texts.

1. 200th Anniversary of First Meteorological Observation, 1968

Date of Issue: 13 March 1968

This Meteorological stamp commemorates the 200th Anniversary of the year in which Canada's first long-term fixed point weather observations by established scientists were undertaken.

Started at Prince of wales Fort, Churchill, by William Weiss and Joseph Dymond on 10th of September 1768, the daily observations by thermometer and barometer continued until 27th of August 1769. Earlier remarks on weather had been recorded by soldiers, explorers and others but these are largely non-instrumental and were made in transit rather than at a fixed point. Dymond and Wales were at Hudson Bay under instructions from the Royal Society to observe the transit of Venus. Wales, one of the formost astronomers and mathematicians of his day, was later to accompany Capt. Cook on voyages around the world. An unfamiliarity with the environment and harsh weather conditions is evident in writtings of the observes published in 1771. Their phraseology, too, is in striking contrast to today's familiar weather terminology; at one point they wrote ; "the liquid in which the plumbline of the quadrant is immerged, consisting of water, and about one fourth part brandy, is this morning froze so hard, that I can scarcely make an impression on it with my finger". The trading post Fort Prince of Wales, originally established as Fort Churchill, was destroyed by fire while under construction in 1689. It was rebuilt in 1717. Remants of the forts are preserved by the Canadian Government as a national historic site.

The design of the Meteorological Readings postage stamp incorporates an authenticated section of a recent surface weather map prepared by the Meteorological Branch of the Canadian Department of Transport. The right panel is a composite of an anemometer, used to establish wind speeds and direction; a radar antenna for weather surveillance, and a weather balloon which carries aloft a radiosonde to measure pressure, temperature and humidity of the upper air. Though providing a vital national service, Canadian Metorologists also contribute to a co-operative programme in which weather balloons furnish world-wide readings. In Canada, balloons are released daily by 33 weather stations at local time corresponding to 12 o'clock noon and 12 o'clock midnight Greenwich Mean Time.

The Meteorologist is primarily interested in the atmosphere up to 100,000 feet above surface. This is a comparatively shallow layer of air and if the earth were reduced to the size of an apple this layer would be represented by the skin. The weather may be said to have a stronger and more continuous impact on our lives than any other feature of the environment in which we live. There are Biblical references to the atmosphere and Aristotle dealt with the weather in his writings. Meteorology, however, is a science which had its beginning in the 17th century. Galileo's invention of an elementary form of air thermometer in 1607 and Torricelli's air pressure experiments leading to Pascal's barometer in 1643 were significant events triggering the beginning of an objective scientific study of the atmosphere.

In Canada today, apart from general weather forecasts, Meteorologists provide services vital to aviation, industry, public utilities, shipping, agriculture, and forest interests. Weather shots taken from satellites add a new dimension of interest for the average person who, in the comfort of his home, may now view television transmissions of photographs clearly showing weather patterns covering many thousands of square miles. Untold loss of life and property is averted by special bulletins ranging from frost warmings for agriculturalists to hurricane alerts. Official weather recordings in Canada began in Toronto in 1840 and the National Meteorological Service was established in 1871. Some 2,000 unpaid volunteers in all parts of the country contribute observations twice daily to augment readings by the career meteorologists.

2. 150 Years of Weather Observing, 1840-1990

Date of Issue: 5 September 1990

This new commemorative stamp honours 150 years of weather observing in Canada.

When Lieutenant C.J.B. Riddell had the climate observations operation moved from Old Fort York to a log observatory on King's College, now called the University of Toronto, on September 5, 1840, the first rudimentary, but systematic, recording of the weather began.

Today, even though some of the weather observing instruments remain the same, the advent of computer technology and the increasing sophistication of satellites have enabled forecasters to predict the weather with great accuracy. Still, many Canadians volunteer their time to record the weather each day.

Montreal designer Denis L'Allier and Dominique Trudeau created this stamp by using a photo of clouds taken by David Collins of the Institute for Aerospace Research, National Research Council of Canada.

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First Day of Issue - Cover

3. Weather Wonders, 2015

Date of Issue: June 18, 2015

Sunny, cloudy, pleasant or miserable - we feel the weather deeply. There's no escaping it. but who would want to? The intense beauty of good, bad or even dangerous weather captures imaginations, sparks conversations and inspires artists.

From brilliant flashes of lightning to crystal-clear ice veneers, the images on these stamps showcase the incredible variety of weather we experience in Canada - all thanks to the photographers who braved the elements to capture these meteorological marvels.

Armed with these spectacular visuals, Kosta Tsetsekas and Defne Corbacioglu - of Vancouver-based Signals - designed a set of stamps that are tied together seamlessly.

"We used themed icons as a nod to the long history of weather iconography - the small suns, clouds and raindrops you see in your daily weather forecast," explains Tsetsekas. "The icons add spice to the stamps without clouding the wonderful photography," adds Corbacioglu.

The five photographs come from every corner of the country. Daryl Benson snapped hoar frost covering a tree near Beaumont, Alberta. Geoff Whiteway focused on hazy, early-morning fog at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site in Newfoundland. In Saint- Gédéon, Quebec, Mike Grandmaison chased a rain shower to shoot a double rainbow, while Dave Reede captured radiant flashes of lightning near Winnipeg, Manitoba. Further north, in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Frank Reardon caught rarely witnessed sun dogs, created by ice crystals in the air.

Each weather wonder was carefully chosen with expert assistance from Environment Canada's senior climatologist, David Phillips, who shares our fascination with weather. Says Phillips, "I marvel at the beauty - and violence - of weather in Canada, which these stamps spectacularly depict."

2015 was the 175th anniversary of continuous weather observation in Canada.

4. Weather Wonders, 2018

Date of Issue:  26 July, 2018

Visitors to Canada could be excused for thinking that an intense interest in the weather – not hockey – is our national pastime. Too cold, too hot or just right – Canadians always have something to say on the subject. Yet nothing inspires meteorological murmurs more than some of the fleeting (but fabulous) phenomena that can appear when weather permits.

These stamps, which follow our first weather-themed issue from 2015, showcase five other weather wonders: steam fog, a moon halo, a waterspout, lenticular clouds and light pillars. Captured in Canada by amateur and professional photographers with endless patience, keen eyes and some luck too, these photos reveal the awesome power and beauty of nature.

Timmy Joe Elzinga, a resident of North Bay, Ontario, used his smartphone to shoot the otherworldly photo of light pillars – ethereal bands of light that appear when tiny ice crystals in the air reflect light from artificial sources. Awoken one cold January night by his young son, Timmy noticed the strange lights out the bathroom window. “Red, blue, green, yellow, purple and pink lights seemed to beam up in to the air,” Elzinga explains. “It almost looked like something out of Star Trek.”

Posted on July 26, 2018 by Canada Post in Latest Stamps