Canadians love bears, and it’s little wonder: Our country is home to large numbers of them, including two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population. That’s why Canadian Geographic and Canada Post teamed up to create Bears, a new stamp series showcasing Canada’s bear species, featuring photography by Robert Postma and Michelle Valberg and designed by Andrew Perro. The newest series was officially unveiled at 50 Sussex, headquarters of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 24.
Just as the RCGS does through its work in Canadian Geographic, Canada Post prides itself on telling unique Canadian stories through its stamp program. The four bears featured on Canada’s latest stamps — the black bear, grizzly bear, polar bear and rare Kermode bear — are part of that story. The images by Valberg and Postma, both regular Canadian Geographic contributors, were carefully selected by Canada Post for their quality and what they reveal about the iconic species.
“In the bear’s faces, we see their character, their spirit, their tremendous power,” says Susan Margles, Senior Vice-President of Corporate Affairs for Canada Post.
Although best known for her Arctic photography, Valberg, who is based in Ottawa and is one of Canadian Geographic’s inaugural Photographers-in-Residence, has a passion for capturing the beauty and variety of all of Canada’s wild nature.
“Michelle is a renowned explorer, adventurer and wildlife photographer who has an innate ability to capture glimpses of the natural world,” says John Geiger, CEO of the RCGS. “She believes the world around us mirrors what we see in ourselves: our beauty, our simplicity, our complications and our responsibilities — and this is certainly reflected in her photography.”
Three of the four images featured in the stamp series are Valberg’s. Robert Postma, the other photographer for this stamp issue, is an award-winning, Yukon-based photographer who was on assignment in Alaska and unable to attend the event.
The Bears stamp series is available on Canada Post’s website and at outlets across the country.
Did you know?
- Black bears are the most common and widely distributed bear in Canada and are found in every province and territory except P.E.I.
- Despite being called black, their coat can be brown, dark red or blueish.
- Black bears can hibernate, without food or water, for up to seven and a half months.
- Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by a real-life black bear from Canada that lived at the London Zoo and was named after the City of Winnipeg.
- Canada is home to two-thirds of the Earth’s population of polar bears, the largest bear species in the world.
- Adult males average between 400 and 600 kilograms, with some exceeding 800 kilograms.
- Degradation of its circumpolar habitat, especially the sea ice, has prompted the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to assess the polar bear as being of special concern.
- Grizzly bears get their name from the lighter tips that often appear on their guard hairs, which give them a grizzled appearance.
- Found in regions from Arctic tundra to western forests, grizzlies in the west have been assessed as being of special concern due to human encroachment.
- British Columbia’s Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, established in 1994, was the first area in the country created specifically to protect grizzly bears. Also known as the “Valley of the Grizzly,” today it is home to about 50 grizzlies — one of the largest populations of the species in the province.
- The Kermode bear, also known as the spirit bear, is only found in Canada along the central and north coast regions of British Columbia.
- The Kermode bear is subspecies of black bear that carries a recessive gene that sometimes produces white-coloured offspring.
- There are as many as 500 such bears, and they are the provincial mammal of British Columbia. The white-coloured Kermode bear holds a special place in the cultural traditions of coastal First Nations.