During the 1850s, thousands of hopeful, would-be millionaires flocked to central B.C. and the Fraser with big dreams of discovering gold. In March 1858, excitement reached a fever pitch, when the schooner Wild Pigeon landed in Washington Territory, now Washington State, with news of natives trading gold from the Fraser River to the Hudson's Bay Company. The resulting "rush" triggered an influx of some 30,000 prospectors, miners and those simply hoping to strike it rich.
The gold rush, combined with the expansionist policy of the United States, worried James Douglas (1803-1877), governor of Vancouver Island. The threat to British sovereignty from the incoming waves of gold seekers from the U.S. was very real to Douglas, and in his reports to London he painted a grave picture of the situation.
Acting quickly, the British Parliament passed an act in August 1858 to establish a crown colony on the Pacific mainland. The official ceremony proclaiming the Crown Colony of British Columbia took place on November 19, 1858, at Fort Langley.
To celebrate British Columbia's 150th anniversary and recognize the pivotal role of the Fraser River Gold Rush in the province's creation, Canada Post is issuing a domestic rate (52¢) stamp on August 1, 2008.
"The Province of British Columbia is delighted that Canada Post has created a stamp to mark the 150th anniversary of British Columbia as a Crown Colony," says Stan Hagen, B.C. Minister of Tourism, Sport and the Arts. "This commemorative stamp will heighten awareness of BC150 celebrations as we proudly showcase our province's history, First Nations heritage, rich cultural diversity and widespread achievements to the world."
Designed by Roy White and Matthew Clark of Vancouver's Subplot Design Inc., the stamp features a gold-panning image in which a panner's rugged hand outlines the province's eastern border. "We wanted the stamp image to be bold, tough and authentic without relying on an archival image," explains White.
The image is superimposed over a modern-day map of B.C., including the Queen Charlotte Islands, which weren't part of the colony 150 years ago.
"The unique pane is sure to be a sought-after collectible," says Danielle Trottier, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. "This is one of the few times we've produced a self-adhesive pane that includes design elements on the back. The first products of this kind were the Bridges and Alberta 1905-2005 stamp panes, both issued in 2005."
The stamp pane's header, created by illustrator Adam Rogers, depicts the province's evolution in silhouette, capturing mountain ranges, a longhouse and totem poles, and the Lions Gate Bridge-through to a modern-day Vancouver skyline.
"You've heard the age-old proverb that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well this one-and I'm only half kidding here-had to be worth 150 years," says Rogers. "We knew we had to cover certain historical sign posts, but in a general way."
Equally interesting is the reverse side of the pane. Through elaborate designs and the use of eight historic photos, this distinctive collectible tells the intriguing story of B.C.'s coming of age."
Further information on British Columbia can be found at www.gov.bc.ca.
- Product #: 403711107
- Layout: Pane of 16 stamps
- Price: $8.32
- Denomination: 1 x 52¢
- Design: Subplot Design Inc.
- Dimensions: 52 mm x 30 mm (horizontal)
- Gum Type: Pressure sensitive
- Illustration: Adam Rogers
- Paper Type: Tullis Russell
- Perforations: Simulated perforation
- Photographers: Clinton Hussey
- Printer: Lowe-Martin
- Printing Process: Lithography in 6 colours plus varnish
- Tagging: General, 4 sides
- Quantity: 2,000,000