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Foreign Stamps in My 1940s Collection

distinctive foreign stamp design

distinctive foreign stamp design

At the height of my short lived stamp collecting career in the 1940s, I had accumulated, not only some 5,000 Newfoundland stamps, but also a colourful array of stamps from 126 foreign countries. Unhappily, this entire collection disappeared following my departure from home in St. John’s to attend St. F.X. University in Nova Scotia from 1950 to 1952.

One memento survives in a hand written listing I put together of those countries from which I had gathered quite a rich cross section of colourful national stamps. Most were of the standard rectangular format, but a few countries had adopted triangular and other offbeat designs.

many French colonies issued their own stamps

many French colonies issued their own stamps

These were naturally among my favourites. See a few samples from a current on line catalogue.

triangular stamps are uncommonly attractive

triangular stamps are uncommonly attractive

It may be interesting to check how many of these countries have since changed names or been otherwise altered with the passage of time. Here is that list:

Abyssinia, Algeria, America (United States), Angola, Antigua, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Bavaria, Bechuanaland, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, British Guiana, Bulgaria, Cameroons, Canada, Cayman Islands, Ceylon, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Dahomey, Denmark, Dominica (British), Dominican Republic, Dutch (Netherlands), Dutch Guiana, Dutch Indies, Egypt, England, Equador, Finland, France, French Equatorial Africa, French Overseas, Germany, Gibraltar, Gold Coast, Greece, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, Latvia, Lebanese Republic, Leeward Islands, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malay, Malta, Martinique, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montserrat, Mozambique, New Caledonia, Newfoundland, New South Wales, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Norway, Oceanic Settlements, Orange Free State, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Persia, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Porto Rico, Portugal, Queensland, Romania, Russia, St. Pierre, St. Lucia, St. Thomas & Prince Islands, St. Vincent, Salvador, Senegal, Seychelles, Siam, Sierra Leone, Somali Coast, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Southwest Africa, Spain, Straits Settlements, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tannu Tuva, Togo, Transvaal, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunis, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, Victoria, Wallis and Futuna, Yugoslavia.

How many outdated country names have you spotted?

 

A Newfoundland Nurse in World War One

Alice Fitzgerald (top rrow) on nursing duty in France

Alice Fitzgerald (top row) on nursing duty in France

An intriguing photo of a Newfoundland nurse who served in the First World War is tormenting me because I can’t seem to find any details of her story. What I do know is that she was my Aunt Alice, my mother’s oldest sister, but I only saw her once when I was seven years old. In the photo above, she is in the top row among soldiers resting within the ruins of a war damaged stone wall, apparently somwhere in France.

Alice M. Fitzgerald was born in St. John’s March 22, 1885, the oldest daughter of William B. and Katherine (Hagan) Fitzgerald. Thus she would have been between 29 and 33 years old during the First World War. All that I have been able to confirm about her World War 1 nursing career is that she is listed in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment as a nurse from St. John’s but with no further information recorded. According to a heritage Nfld. account of Newfoundland and Labrador’s WW1 service, there were about 175 women who served overseas as graduate nurses or with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) – a corps of semi-trained nurses. So she was most likely one of those graduate nurses.

Alice Fitzgerald (from family Portrait)

Alice Fitzgerald (from famiy porrtrait)

After the war, Alice Fitzgerald married another Newfoundlander, Norbert Burke Dec 18, 1918, at St. Joseph’s Church, presumably in St. John’s.

They settled in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where Norbert worked with Nova Scotia Steel Company, and raised one daughter, Frances.

Norbert Burke’s family lived in St. Jacques, Fortune Bay, and he too served in the war overseas, one of four brothers who volunteered for active service.

One of them, Leonard, was seriously wounded in the Battle of Cambrai. His other brothers also survived the war – Dr. John Burke conducted a dentistry practice in St. John’s, while Dr. Vincent P. Burke, had a distinguished career in Newfoundand education, and as a member of the Canadian Senate.

Alice Fitzgerald Burke died in North Sydney March 21, 1947 at the age of 62. Her daughter Frances, who married Jerome Rabnett and lived in Belleville, Ont., passed away in 1998.

 

 

Newfoundland Stamps Lost and Found

I thought I had long ago lost all of my Newfoundland stamp collection when someone at home unwittingly threw them out while I was away at university. It was a big one – more than 5,000 stamps in all. That was a long time ago – about 1952, three years after Newfoundland became, controversially enough, a province of Canada.

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

And that was why the monetary value of Newfoundland stamps had escalated because no more were ever to be produced.

Image then my surprise when a couple of hundred of them showed up again a few months ago – 65 years later! I discovered them while clearing out some old boxes containing long discarded memorabilia accumulated over the years and all but forgotten.

King George V

King George V

Easy to miss, because the stamps were wrapped in tiny bundles enclosed by golden hued sewing thread – a method of postage stamp husbandry that would justifiably horrify philately purists in any era. But they did keep them together and in reasonably good shape.

Pity it is that these remnants from the past include only some of the most common low-denomination stamps. Survivor sets consist of 118 grey 1-cent stamps depicting codfish dubbed “Newfoundland currency”, and 100 green 2-cent stamps depicting King George V, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth. Current values except for those in mint condition – which these are certainly not – appear to be minimal.

Codfish: Newoundland currency

Codfish:
Newfoundland currency

My stamp collecting methods were entirely simple and downright crude, soaking stamps from envelopes and bundling them in sets as needed and placing them in envelopes or even Eddy’s match boxes, and keeping them together in larger cardboard boxes which I stored on bedroom cupboard shelves. I recall one of my favourites, a Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box in a design still to be found on store shelves today. Others I liked to use were fancily packaged boxes for cigars my Dad used to smoke.

What I was careful about was in counting all my stamps and marking down the numbers and the places they came from. The listing shown below was hand written in pencil on a note pad sheet dated November 1943, supplied by a venerable St. John’s printer, Dicks and Company. I probably wrote the list in the late ’40s before going away to St. F.X. University in Nova Scotia. It spelled out my complete Newfoundland stamp holdings:

1,394 2-cents, 1,129 3-cents, 1,090 4-cents, 781 1-cent, 426 5-cents, 199 10-cents, 151 8-cents, 54 7-cents, 18 4-cents, 15 15-cents, nine 20-cents, nine 25-cents, two 24-cents, two 9-cents and one 28-cents, for a total of 5,280.

As recounted in my 2015 Gower Street memoir, I wrote about my stamp collecting hobby in The Sentinel, a 1944 grade eight newspaper. I don’t really recall how or why I got interested in stamps, but it probably grew from awareness that Newfoundland stamps were rather unique because we were a small country which produced quite a lot of attractive stamp designs.

Caribou Symbol of Newfoundland Regiment

Caribou
Symbol of Newfounland Regiment

As comprehensively detailed by Memorial University of Newfoundland professor, Dr. Thomas F. Nemec, some 300 different postage stamps were issued by the Newfoundland Post Office between January 1, 1857 and June 24, 1947. Interestingly enough, because they were not demonetized, Newfoundland stamps can still be used legally on mail posted in Canada.

Back to the BlogoSphere

Neglecting one’s blog may be an unforgiveable character fault, but let’s see if comeback efforts can merit yet another comeback. A virtual hiatus since last June came on, not because of illness or other drastic cause, but merely due to preoccupation with other interests.

First, there was an inordinate obsession with tracking down family origins in Ireland, prompted by discovery of digitized listings of birth records for parishes in the vicinity of my great-grandfather Nicholas Wadden’s home community near New Ross, Wexford County.

Birth of an Irish cousin 1845

Birth of an Irish cousin 1845

Eyes glazed from hours of scanning pages and pages of hand-written records, some of them fiendishly rendered in Latin, the time-consuming exercise produced some worthwhile results. But that’s a story for a later blog.

Sated with family history’s somewhat frustrating research, I had fun helping out with publicity for a quite successful photographers’ gathering held in June in Ottawa, organized by the RA Photo Club. The Canada Camera Conference 2017 was the third national conference which our club has organized since 1998, and all three were highly successful and profitable. Co-chair DAVE Haggarty, mastermind of each event, overcame special problems this time for want of major industry sponsors, victims of photography’s transformation to the digital age. “Canada Wild,” a hit audio-visual production staged in Algonquin College’s theatre by the Almonte team of photographer Bill Pratt and musician Ian Douglas, helped a lot in the revenue drive.

More recently, much time has been given to retrieving something else from the past – hundreds and hundreds of photo images originally taken as colour slides. Thanks to the virtues of a trusty scanner, decades-old photos of people, places, events and scenic wonders have been recaptured, edited, and preserved in special event or annual print albums.

from the archives

from the archives

A painstaking chore indeed, but it’s been rewarding to get the best out of images that graphically trace many of the high points of a family’s growth.

Today’s voluminous triggering of electronic images for every moment of the day brings many satisfactions but their very plenitude defies most people’s ability, or indeed willingness, to preserve them in printed form. Perhaps only those venturing into their golden years my feel a desire to bother with prints. Later generations may or may not care, but let us hope that enough people leave something behind to tell who and how they were in days of yore.

In seeking to revive the blogging habit, topics of interest range from the sublime – day dreaming of a world without Trump – to the ridiculous – back to the aforementioned subject. Yet there are plenty of potential items coming to mind, e.g. the mundane concerns of green binning,

compost essential

compost essential

bicycle behavior, the ongoing follies of our own politicians, or the joys rather than the frustrations of noteworthy international travels. And let’s add some tidbits on such offbeat pursuits as stamp collecting, book writing and photography,

Autumn in Ottawa

Autumn in Ottawa

along with a generous sprinkling of photo images to brighten up the mix. More to come soon!

Tweetle-Dum Must Go

CHAOS

CHAOS

When it began, we had to feel acute embarrassment for the American people as the clownish nature of the newly elected president became daily more offensive and bizarre. Ongoing developments only reinforced those feelings of revulsion and ultimately despair at the spectacle of a supremely unqualified, intemperate and dishonourable con man wielding the reins of power in the great American republic.

Ruling, or really making a shambles of attempting to govern, by epithet laden twitter pronouncements, this loosest of political cannons has now demonstrated beyond all question of doubt that he poses the greatest danger to world peace since Hitler. His inflammatory mouth now threatens to start the third and probably final world war.

The only solution is obvious though who can tell how to bring it about: Trump has to be removed from office, and hidden away in some tweet proof cavern, never to be allowed anywhere near the white house, or a golf course, or a cell phone, again.

He is fully ripe for impeachment by his irresponsible behavior in dealing with the only other demented leader who comes anywhere close to matching him in sheer madness.

If it weren’t so frightening, one might well envisage stripping these two overweight loudmouths to loincloths and have them battle, weaponless, to the death, with the winner destined for one-way spacecraft banishment to the farthest limits of the stratosphere.

Chippy Is In Trouble

We have taken to calling him Chippy.

The guilty look

The guilty look

A bold and ever frisky chipmunk has been popping up on our deck and throughout our back yard for many months now, and we usually love to see him. He’s so cute and seems to love posing for pictures. And he is not always on the move. More often than not we see him perched on a corner of the deck, gazing speculatively at our bird feeders, figuring out his next move in search of tasty seeds to munch or hide away.

On the Feeder

On the Feeder

But he was never really a nuisance – until yesterday!

Suddenly our friendly little rodent entertainer had outwitted our hitherto squirrel-proof bird feeder and climbed aboard to gorge himself on safflower-sunflower birdseed mix.

How the little blighter got there we’re not quite sure, but most likely by leaping from the pole supporting the feeder.

Chipmunks and squirrels of all kinds have tried their best to reach that feeder ring, only to be stymied by the cylindrical obstacle midway up that pole.

Onward and Upward

Onward and Upward

Stymied

Stymied

 

Chippy tried to do it a year or two ago, but had to retreat in failure.

But the crafty little critter somehow solved the access problem, leaving us with a new challenge to deter this new threat to hungry birdlife.

 

Hasty retreat

Hasty retreat

Today we think we’ve solved the problem. While the multi-striped invader has no problem climbing up the pole, he surely cannot get past that pesky barrier.

Out of reach, maybe

Out of reach, maybe

So we just removed the makeshift hanger put there to make it easier for reloading birdseed, raising the feeder well above the barrier.

Let’s see Chippy trying to beat that!

My U.S. Open Story

This weekend’s United States Open Golf tournament finds me sporting a well-liked souvenir of sorts – a U.S. Open Golf shirt my son Ron gave me a dozen or so years ago. Thanking him for it, I learned that I had someone else to thank as well – long time Canadian sports writer Cam Cole, whom he asked to get it for him.


Then working for the National Post in Toronto, Cam Cole covered golf tournaments all over the circuit and one of them was the 103rd edition of the U.S. Open at Olympia Field, Illinois in June 2003. Jim Furyk won that one in his first major victory.

Olympia Fields U.S. Open

Olympia Fields U.S. Open

What tickles my fancy still today is that, during his flight home to Toronto, something got spilled onto the shirt he was carrying on Ron’s behalf. But no problem. When Cam Cole got home, he gave the shirt a good wash and had it all nicely wrapped to give to my grateful son the next day.
I have been a great admirer of Cam Cole’s sports writing, especially on golf, for many years, so this gift was especially appreciated. I was sorry to read last December that he was retiring after more than 40 years in the business. He moved to Vancouver some years ago, probably in hopes of better golfing weather in his retirement years. Though I never met him, I wish him well.

OTTAWA WRITERS CELEBRATE CANADA’S SESQUICENTENNIAL

Bearing a delightfully colourful front cover, Ottawa One Five O celebrates 150 years of the Canadian Confederation with an anthology of writings by Ottawa authors inspired by this major anniversary. Prose and poetry submissions by 30 members of the Ottawa Independent Writers (OIW) represent what its editor describes as “the widest imaginable range of works.” Content having a decidedly Canadian theme was required.
Conveniently presented in sections, with time periods from 1900 to 2167 and beyond highlighted for each selection, stories and poems touch on the past in history and imagination, the present in recollection and fiction and the future in speculation. Published by OIW, Ottawa Five One O is handsomely produced, thanks to excellent editing by Bob Barclay, assisted by Benoit Chartier and Bill Horne, with occasional illustrations and the splendid cover design by Magdalene Carson. Brief biographies of all contributors are included. Copies are available from the Ottawa Independent Writers http://www.ottawaindependentwriters.com/

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson commented in a foreword note: “This special anniversary has particular significance for our country’s capital. This anthology brings to life our collective creative spirit…Each work in its own way, is a reminder of the unique beauty that is Canada and how blessed we are to live in the best country in the world.”

Prose in the Park

Prose in the Park

As one of the anthology contributors, I am very pleased indeed by this volume’s appearance which occurred Saturday June 10 at the Prose in the Park book festival at Ottawa’s Parkdale Park. Not sure how mine fits in with others singing Confederation’s praises – my piece, Lament For What Might Have Been, tells why I would have voted against Newfoundland’s joining Canada in 1949.
Editor Bob Barclay, who is also one of the contributors, is publisher of LooseCannon Press and is author of four books, one of which is due for release this year.

Her Name is Sookie!

Sookier

Sookie

She is only shut in a cage in down times of puppy training but doesn’t mind it a bit. And, in spite of Newfoundland connotations of her name, she is no cry baby, though she has been known to enjoy a little bark now and then.
Her doggie heritage is strictly Westie, with all the cuteness embodied in that breed. A west highland white terrier of Scottish origins, she lives in Toronto with her proud owner, our precious granddaughter Bridget.
About her name which, in a dotage rather than doting moment I earlier misnamed, young Sookie may not be pleased to learn of its down east repute. Here is how it’s listed (albeit in slightly different spelling) in Canada’s only regional dialect reference book, the Dictionary of Newfoundland English: “sooky (a for adjective): “whining, petulant, jealous…a sooky baby is a cry-baby”. The term “sook” is tagged as ‘a babyish child.”
Remembering these terms from childhood caused some hesitancy on my part in embracing the Sookie name, but a first glance at the bundle of fur in the flesh erased any such misgivings. This joyful and playful new arrival gives the lie to all that ancient verbiage.
Can’t wait to see her again, uncaged and rarin’ to go!

Eyesore Properties

More than four years ago, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced a new policy to deal with derelict buildings in the capital. The city, he promised, was stepping up enforcement of requirements for maintaining rundown properties.

So how come there are so many bothersome eyesores such as this one on Bank Street and Evans Avenue south of Billings Bridge?

Bank St. Derelict

Bank St. Derelict

Does maintaining mean nothing more than boarding up broken windows and sagging door frames? Passersby along busy streets like this may get used to them, but not without cringing in embarrassment at living in a city that puts up with such evidence of willful neglect. Photos used here were taken last fall but a drive by view this week showed virtually no change, or perhaps further deterioration, since that time.

“What we will require is that any building that is just sitting there must not stick out like a sore thumb,” Watson said in a March 2013 interview. “We’ll be insisting that owners keep up with regular repair on their assets.” Much fanfare accompanied that bold policy announcement but follow up action has been spotty at best.

Sympathy may be spared for property owners who try their best to solve derelict building problems, but lack of city pressure to effect meaningful repair or replacement only prolongs such eyesore situations. Action to cope with them in a timely manner is sorely needed.