World Stamps

First Canadian prime minister honored on new stamp

May 3, 2021, 2 AM

Canada Post issued a stamp Jan. 11 to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Canada’s first prime minister, John A. Macdonald.

The new nondenominated (85¢) permanent-rate self-adhesive booklet stamp was unveiled on its issue date, Jan. 11.

Participating in the unveiling were Canada’s current prime minister, Stephen Harper; Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra; and Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt, responsible for Canada Post.

Chopra said: “Our stamps have captured the story of Canada ever since Confederation and today we celebrate one of its key architects.

“Two hundred years after his birth, Sir John A. Macdonald remains a towering figure and this stamp celebrates his legacy.”

In the press release announcing the stamp, Canada Post called Macdonald “a nation builder whose achievements shaped the nation.”

Louis Gagnon of Paprika, a Montreal-based graphic design and strategic marketing firm, designed the new stamp, which features a portrait of Macdonald facing left.

Canada Post reports that the “stamp mixes a traditional photo with modern design to create a fresh look at a subject who has appeared on stamps many times over the past 100 years.”

Among the previous Canadian stamps honoring Macdonald are a 1¢ stamp issued in 1927 to mark 60 years of confederation (Scott 141) and a 1973 1¢ definitive (586).

Macdonald also is depicted with Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier on a 1927 12¢ stamp (Scott 147).

He is among “The Fathers of Confederation” pictured on stamps from 1917 (Scott 135) and 1927 (Scott 142) marking the 50th and 60th anniversary of confederation, respectively.

The stamp designs of these 1917 3¢ brown and 1927 2¢ green commemoratives are based on a painting by Robert Harris of the Charlottetown Conference held in September 1864.

Canadian Bank Note printed the new stamp using five-color lithography in booklets of 10. The self-adhesive stamp measures 32 millimeters by 40mm.

The stamp also is available affixed to an official Canada Post first-day cover canceled in Kingston, Ontario. The cover features a line map of the provinces that constituted Canada at confederation.

Born Jan. 11, 1815, in Glasgow, Scotland, Macdonald immigrated to Kingston, Ontario, at age 5 with his parents, Hugh and Helen Macdonald.

He began practicing law at the age of 20, and entered politics in 1843 as an alderman in Kingston. The next year, 1844, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the province of Canada.

In 1856, he became joint premier of the province. One of the “fathers of Confederation,” he played leading roles during the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences that led to the creation of Canada in 1867. That same year, Macdonald became Canada’s first prime minister, a post he would hold for a total of 19 years (1867-73 and 1878-91), before his death in office on June 6, 1891.

He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1867.

A biography of Macdonald on the government of Canada’s website sums up his years in office: “Sir John A. Macdonald is remembered for his role in: the expansion of Canada’s boundaries from sea to sea, the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the creation of the North-West Mounted Police, and the development of the National Policy. Not without controversy, his career also included the Pacific Scandal, which led to the downfall of his government, and his handling of the North-West Resistance in 1885, which cost his government substantial support in Quebec. He died on June 6, 1891, soon after winning his fourth election.”

The booklet of 10 stamps is Canada Post item 413972111. The FDC is item 413972131.

Canada Post products are available at

Stamps and FDCs are available by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre, Canada Post Corp., 75 St. Ninian St., Antigonish, NS B2G 2R8, Canada; or by telephone from the United States and Canada at 800-565-4362, and from other countries at 902-863-6550.

Canada’s stamps and stamp products are also available from many new-issue stamp dealers, and from Canada Post’s agent in the United States: Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557.

A 1973 1¢ definitive stamp features John A. Macdonald, Canada’s prime minister for 19 years, 1867-73 and 1878-91.

Canada Post issued this stamp Jan. 11 to commemorate the 200th birth of its first prime minister, John A. Macdonald.

Prime Minister John A. Macdonald was previously honored on a 1927 1¢ stamp issued for the 60th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation (Scott 141).John A. Macdonald is among the “fathers of Confederation” shown on this 1917 3¢ brown stamp marking the 50th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. The same painting is shown in green on a 1927 2¢ commemorative stamp.

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