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

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

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



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




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.


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

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!



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.

A Call to Arms of the Faithful

What in the world is happening? Terror killing is a daily occurrence, but to what purpose? What kind of mind can justify random killing of innocent people?

Do the killers believe they will live forever in a nirvana reserved only for those who thrive on hatred? If an almighty being values human kind at all, surely mindless cruelty and callousness deserves to be unrewarded. Destroying human lives in the name of any almighty being is not only inhuman, it is intrinsically ungodly.

call to arms

call to arms

Leaders of world religions, whatever the stripe, owe it to all humans to condemn and disown those extremist zealots who war upon innocents in the name of some sacred being. Only they have the power to rid the world of evil doers masquerading as messiahs. Words alone are not enough. Only outspoken condemnation, rejection, ostracism, denial of entry to places of worship and exposure to law enforcement authorities has any hope of ending this tidal wave of nihilist religious-based fanaticism.

Let not evil prevail.

Be Smart and Buy A Paper

Want to do something about the troubling decline of the daily newspaper? For a start, buy a subscription, and read it through every day. We get two in our house, and not just for the crossword puzzles, and certainly not for the comics (except Zits.). If you’re in any kind of business, advertise in it. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than TV or the so-called social media, and folks can take their own good time reading it.

Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizan

Looking through a newspaper today, you get a sense of unreality at the lack of local ads that used to meet everyday information needs. Don’t you get fed up always having to resort to google, a process that increasingly boggles the mind because of its innumerable entries saying much the same thing, but so often irrelevant to your particular need? Google and boggle do seem to go together, don’t they?

We have only ourselves to blame, of course, for allowing technology changes to sweep away all the comforts of what used to be everyday living. Look at what digital deering-do has done to the music scene – turfing out CDs and DVDs which were great, and cheap, for music buying and selling and playing. Now singers and musicians are struggling to survive, yet everyone steals their work on line all the time.

Same goes for professional photographers who have a hard time making a living in an age overladen with selfie-worshiping amateurs snapping admittedly sharp photos on their tiny ultra-modern cell phone devices.

News reporting suffers immensely today from the incursions of digital’s hand maidens like Facebook and Twitter, the great pretenders of the mass communications universe. Colour me hopelessly reactionary but, while sharing the neighbourly gossiping merits of Facebook tune-ins, I shudder at the torrents of purportedly knowledgeable outpourings on affairs of the day by persons of unknown and often highly suspect credentials. Not to mention the even mightier torrents of odious pop-up and timeline-packing ads you have to wade through in pursuing whatever interests you.

National Post

National Post

What people seem to forget when browsing through social media is that everything they see is – just like this blog – strictly someone’s opinion. In news media, factual information is in the forefront while opinion pieces are strictly confined to by-lined columns or editorials. The news is telling about what happens, and not what someone thinks about the whys and the wherefores. If legitimate news reporting disappears, we’re in deep trouble.

Certainly my most unfavourite knowledge source so ubiquitously featured on the google-dominated internet is that ghastly phenomenon known as Wikipedia. As candidly expressed to me the first time I heard of it, dealing quite erroneously with a subject I did know about, it embodies whatever information anyone in the world fancies contributing on a subject, and leaves it for others out there to embellish or revise it with their own take on the subject. A kind of Dummies Dictionary relying in smugly democratic confidence on other dummies to get it straight. Now why didn’t Encyclopedia Britannica think of that?

In short, can’t we draw back just a little from our headlong plunge into technology’s maelstrom and hold fast to the time-honoured bastions of the free press. Journalism is a professional calling and only responsible seekers of the truth in public affairs can be trusted to communicate factual information to the public at large. OK, I’m a tad biased, my son works for the National Post, but with my own modest background in journalism, I am a firm believer in the integrity of the legitimate news media.

Just as the daily newspaper managed to survive the advent of radio and television news, so too it can and should surmount the challenges of today’s on-line communications environment. So let’s give it room to breathe.