Issued: May 3, 2012
Article published in
Two hundred years ago, Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk, leveraged his title and wealth to purchase a vast allotment of land from the Hudson's Bay Company. It was his dream to establish a settlement where the City of Winnipeg now stands, offer primarily Scottish farmers land to work and encourage western expansion.
Lord Selkirk's first wave of settlers journeyed to Assiniboia territory—or the Red River Settlement—as it would come to be known, in 1812. Expecting an unpopulated wilderness, they found established communities of Aboriginals and traders, as well as conflicting loyalties.
Designer Susan Mavor notes "The stamp depicts various kinds of people connected to that initial wave of settlement. They are not drawn as individuals but as abstract representations of the different characters and ethnic groups there at the time." Métis, local trappers, a native Chief and the settlers, each playing a role in the establishment of this progressive colony, are represented on the stamp.
Alain Leduc, stamp design manager, says, "The complexity of the situation in 1812 is expressed visually. The mood of the stamp is not a joyous or happy one; the low clouds are ominous and perhaps representative of stormy times to come." First created as an oil painting by artist Mark Heine, the stamp is strongly illustrative, depicting the story of the settlement, the struggle the settlers faced and the various people they encountered along the way.