New­found­land pony trots onto 2009 postage stamps

The Compass - - OPINION -

What a nice sur­prise when last week I dropped by our Post Of­fice in Clarke’s Beach to buy some new postage stamps to see our beloved New­found­land Pony com­mem­o­rated along with the dis­tinc­tive Cana­dian horse known as “the iron horse.”

If early in­di­ca­tions mean any­thing I un­der­stand the Clarke’s Beach Post Of­fice had them sold out by early June. The lim­ited edi­tion — just four mil­lion were printed na­tion­wide and are sold in book­lets of 10 — will be of spe­cial in­ter­est to phi­lan­thropists in the prov­ince for cer­tain.

My wife and I have a small col­lec­tion of spe­cial-edi­tion stamps and we are de­lighted to have that one to add to our list.

Canada Post is­sued what they call their new­est “do­mes­tic equine stamps “on May 15 when I was out of the prov­ince. The un­veil­ing took place at a cer­e­mony at Gov­ern­ment House in St. John’s with fed­eral and pro­vin­cial politi­cians and mem­bers of the New­found­land Pony So­ci­ety on hand.

First in­tro­duc­tion

The first in­tro­duc­tion to the New­found­land Pony took place when a friend and I vis­ited with artist Cliff Ge­orge at his home in Trin­ity Bay many years ago. When I saw it trot­ting up the lane I thought it was a freak of na­ture. Ob­vi­ously a cor­ner boy such as me, born and raised in St. John’s, had never seen a pony like that be­fore.

It must have been a par­tic­u­larly proud day for Ge­orge and his fam­ily, and peo­ple like them around New­found­land who did so much to pre­serve the breed over so many years pre­vent­ing it from be­com­ing ex­tinct.

A com­mem­o­ra­tive stamp re­leased in New­found­land does not come along too of­ten in one’s life­time, and when it does it’s a time for cel­e­bra­tion and a bonus for col­lec­tors like my brother Ralph.

Ob­vi­ous par­tial­ity

Ob­vi­ously be­ing a New­found­lan­der, I am par­tial to the com­mem­o­ra­tion of our beloved New­found­land pony. What else would be ex­pected from a Con­cep­tion Bay scrib­bler other than that?

Our spe­cial pony his­tor­i­cally was con­sid­ered the all-pur­pose equine. It was brought over here

It is in­ter­est­ing to note the set­tlers at the time car­ried over seven breeds of ponies that merged into a com­mon breed of which one line was later de­vel­oped and rec­og­nized as the New­found­land pony.

by English set­tlers in the 17th and 18th cen­turies. It is in­ter­est­ing to note the set­tlers at the time car­ried over seven breeds of ponies that merged into a com­mon breed of which one line was later de­vel­oped and rec­og­nized as the New­found­land pony.

Com­pli­men­tary pair

The new stamps are com­ple­men­tary. One (the iron horse) fea­tures a Cana­dian horse peer­ing from the left, over­look­ing a gold­coloured sil­hou­ette of a horse­drawn car­riage and a sepia-coloured land­scape rep­re­sent­ing its ori­gin, Que­bec’s colour­ful au­tumn mead­ows.

The other (our pony) in the pair fea­tures the New­found­land trot­ting from the right onto a snow­cov­ered New­found­land land­scape show­ing an emerg­ing light­house in the back­ground as well as a gold-coloured sil­hou­ette of a pony plough­ing the land. When placed side by side, the car­riage and the plough meet on the new stamps, blend­ing into one im­age.

The fairly sub­tle back­ground sug­gests the ori­gins of th­ese two fine crea­tures, and the two dif­fer­ent sea­sons re­minds us that th­ese horses and ponies were re­lied on to work year round. About the two

The New­found­land pony is his­tor­i­cally known for its help to early set­tlers — most from Eng­land — in con­quer­ing our rugged North At­lantic land­scape.

Its part­ner shar­ing the newly is­sued 54-cent stamp is af­fec­tion­ately known as the lit­tle iron horse, a strong, sturdy an­i­mal with royal lin­eage and a long pres­ence in Canada. Both are val­ued for their strength, en­durance and in­tel­li­gence as well as their agree­able/so­cial dis­po­si­tion.

The new stamps mea­sure 39.75 mm x 32.25 mm (hor­i­zon­tal) with sim­u­lated per­fo­ra­tions. The self­ad­he­sive stamps were printed us­ing lithog­ra­phy in five colours on Tullis Rus­sell pa­per. The stamps are gen­eral tagged on three sides.

On the com­mem­o­ra­tive day, May 15, 2009, it was doc­u­mented that the of­fi­cial first day cover of the Cana­dian horse will be can­celled in Cape-Rouge QC. Our New­found­land Pony stamp was to be can­celled in Change Is­lands.

New­found­land Pony

So­ci­ety

The New­found­land Pony So­ci­ety, a group of con­cerned pony own­ers, was cre­ated in 1979. They be­lieve the pony is a liv­ing part of this prov­ince’s cul­tural his­tory. One of its goals other than pre­serv­ing the breed for the sake of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions is the con­tin­u­ing de­vel­op­ment and main­te­nance of the of­fi­cial New­found­land pony reg­istry.

In 1997 the New­found­land Pony be­came the prov­ince’s first and only des­ig­nated her­itage an­i­mal un­der the Her­itage An­i­mal Act. Fewer than 400 New­found­land Ponies are liv­ing in North Amer­ica, less than 250 of breed­ing age. Re­gret­fully it is listed as a crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species by Rare Breeds. For more in­for­ma­tion visit The New­found­land Pony web­site.

It is won­der­ful to know that a photo his­tory of the Pony is cur­rently be­ing com­piled through a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­tween the New­found­land Pony So­ci­ety, Harry Hutch­ings, pres­i­dent; Memo­rial Uni­ver­sity and the pro­vin­cial depart­ment of Tourism, Cul­ture and Recre­ation.

Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about Cana­dian stamps in gen­eral, as well as pho­tos of the new stamps men­tioned above, can be found in the News sec­tion of Canada Post’s web­site www.canada­post.ca

Bill West­cott writes from Clarke’s Beach.

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