February 22, 2007 11:58 ET

Canada Post's New Lilac Stamps Signal the (Hoped for) End of Winter

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 22, 2007) - Following on the successful Daffodil stamp issue of 2005 and Canadian Gardens stamps of 2006, Canada Post will issue on March 1 two domestic rate stamps featuring the lilac, that wonderfully fragrant harbinger of spring.

Lilacs or Syringa belong to the Oleaceae family, a botanical family that includes various plants important in agriculture, silviculture and horticulture, including ash and olive trees, jasmine and forsythia. From the 26 wild lilac species native to eastern Asia, especially China and southern Europe, breeders have developed more than 1,600 cultivated varieties. Lilacs have been found in Canada since settlers found time to spare on growing plants for decoration rather than food.

The lilacs used in this issue are the Syringa vulgaris "Princess Alexandra", an early lilac with single white florets, which originated in 1874 in Windsor, Ontario. The lilac takes its name from Alexandra, the Queen-consort of King Edward VII; it is the oldest Canadian hybrid lilac still found at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. The second is the Syringa x prestoniae "Isabella" named for Isabella Preston, plant hybridizer at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, in 1927. Ms. Preston (1881-1965), who is rumoured to have had little or no sense of smell, named 81 cultivars.

According to Montreal designer Isabelle Toussaint, the challenge of photographing the lilacs was to create a framing and colour that would complement the white and mauve lilacs and give a lush feeling of spring. She achieved this with a green and purple spring palette that emphasizes the natural tones of the flowers. Ms. Toussaint previously designed the refreshingly translucent Daffodil stamps that were issued in March 2006, and the Pets stamps issued in October 2005 to mark that year's Stamp Collecting month.

Canadian Bank Note printed 10 million stamps, in booklets of 10 and 300,000 souvenir sheets of two stamps. The pressure-sensitive stamps in the booklet are kiss-cut and measure 34 mm x 25.6 mm (horizontal); the souvenir sheet stamps have 13 plus perforations and are backed by PVA gum. The souvenir sheet measures 128 mm x 80 mm (horizontal). All are general tagged on four sides. The stamps were printed on Tullis Russell Coatings using lithography in four colours and spot varnish. The Official First Day Cover cancellation reads CORNWALL ON. The stamp images are also available on two pre-stamped postage paid postcards.

Additional information about Canadian stamps can be found in the Newsroom section of Canada Post's website, and downloadable high-resolution photos of these new stamps are in the Newsroom's Photo Centre. Stamps and Official First Day Covers will be available at participating post offices, and can be ordered online by following the links at Canada Post's website, or by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA call toll-free: 1-800-565-4362 and from other countries call: 902 863-6550.

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