A Map of Canada's Pictorial Cancels (not first-day-cancellation)

Inspired by Rachelle’s (@mooseontheloose) Japanese fukei-in initiative, I started yesterday making a map of Canadian pictorial cancels that are offered in post offices across the country. Here is the map.

I realised that unlike Japanese people’s adherence to strict rules and regulations, Canada Post didn’t set that much rules about postmark design and collecting. This results in a situation where pictorial cancels can be of different dimensions and different shapes. Many online resources – as excellent as this one though they are – don’t provide cancel specification. When preparing the items, we are often confused about how much space needs to be left on what side of the stamp(s). Hence, my contribution would be to attempt at providing the information regarding cancel dimension.

Currently, the dots marked by colour red denote the post offices whose cancels I have measured with a physical ruler, while those marked by colour blue denote those that I haven’t measured. Right now, I have only finished incorporating information found on Canada Post’s online repository, which is far from being complete. I have written to a blog owner to ask his/her permission to use images found on his/her blog.

Also, I realised that the ‘run date’ doesn’t really apply to a large number of cancels. Often than not, a specific cancel can be replaced by a newer one, in the sense that it’s kept in the back instead of sitting on the counter and being used everyday. Nevertheless, we can still request those old cancels by making clear what we want to ask. A good example is Eastend Post Office:

They in fact offer 3 variations of Scotty cancel, and another one for scouts, all of which can be requested.

Another example:

In Montreal, some cancels were created for specific events with specific dates. Although the dates have passed, these cancels are still being preserved and we can still request them. (It’s just impossible to change the date of the cancel).

My current ambition is that once I finish mapping the cancels I can find online, I will associate each of them with tags and make a little website where people can view and search a group of cancels by tags. I don’t know how this is going to work with free website builders (I have used WordPress and Wix). If anyone has the experience in this domain, I would love to hear what you think about it.

Feel free to post information regarding Canadian pictorial cancels that are currently missing on my map. And please give me the permission to use your images.

Thank you in advance!

P.S. My map is under Creative-Commons. It will never become for-profit.

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Oh by the way, I found a mistake regarding the Miramichi cancel: Miramichi is in New Brunswick, not in Nova Scotia.


(It’s the correct notation on the cancel’s image, but the address is wrong.)

There is no way to contact Canada Post beside calling their customer support. I don’t have the time to wait in line to signal this minor error. If someone works for Canada Post or has the time to wait on the phone, can you notify them?

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Error on cancellation? A stamp-collector’s dream! :cloud:

No, the cancellation is correct. But the information on the website is not.

Speaking of error on cancellation, is this one an error?

LaRonge-(SK)

Saskatchewan is spelled with an ‘e’. Or am I mistaken?

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Great map! I have a cancel for you, that is also not listed on the website you mentioned above. This one is from Dawson City, YT, and I got it in the summer of 2022, the last time I went home to Canada. Sorry it’s cut off, that’s what happened on the card, but it’s clear that it’s a cancan dancer. It seems to measure about 42mm, as much as I can make out the edge on the stamp part of the cancel.

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I made a little website for this project:

To navigate it, you may click on the 3-line icon at the top right corner to access the menu. You can browse by provinces or tags (keywords), you can also use the search function to look for specific cancel(s). By default, the homepage of the site shows all the cancels that have been posted.

What I wish to improve:

(a) I wish the image squares on the homepage can be adjusted; I feel it’s too huge for something like postmarks that are not necessarily of high resolution.

(b) When using the search function, only 5 results are shown on one page. Users need to go to the next page to see other results. I wish I can adjust the number of results (to a higher number) or that the showing is done in the scrolling style – meaning that the users simply scroll down the page and more results will be loaded. No need to click on a button.

(c) I wish the sidebar menu doesn’t need to be hidden. It’s not very intuitive for first-time users to find where the menu is.


I tried both WordPress and Wix platforms, and found

(1) Wix’s free plan doesn’t seem to include showing tag cloud; it seems to be a premium feature.

(2) Neither’s free plan can import / synchronise keywords / tags from a database (such as Lightroom on my computer, or Flickr, or Instagram with hashtags). There may be 3rd-party solution but it’s likely a paid feature.

(3) Even though they can synchronise photos from connected accounts (Google Photo, Instamgram, etc.), for the images to show up on the site, a file still needs to be stored on the site, which consume storage.

(4) Again, even though they can syncrhonise photos, but since tags / keywords don’t automatically carry onto the website builder, for the tagging to work on the site, individual blog post associated with tags has to be created for every cancel. This is time-consuming.

Wix is particularly disadvantaged due to #1 and #3, so I eventually opted for WordPress which offers 3 GB of free storage (Wix only offers 500 MB).

Overall, my ideal No.1 solution would be that Google Map can search keywords in the description field, and that it allows tagging and generates tag cloud, so that users can navigate through keywords. Then every information can be embedded in one map.

No.2 would be for website builder platforms to supports synchronising (hash)tags / keywords with Instagram / Flickr (or any other photo hosting platform that supports tagging), so there is no more need to create individual blog post with tags in the website builder.


Lastly, what do you think about my logo design?

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It’s rare to see blue ink being used for Canadian cancels! Thank you for your contribution. I have added it to the map.

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Logo is like a cancellation - :white_check_mark:
White/Red = Canada - :white_check_mark:
I’m curious about the white blobs, which, in part, overshadow the smaller maple leaves. :thinking:
Text: why italicized style vs. something like a Helvetica font similar to the type seen on cancellations :question:
Idea: what about a date, such as 2024, like a cancellation has?

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I want to give a ‘worn out’ look to the design. Without the white blobs, it kind of looks like something very new and polish – don’t you think?

Originally, I want this logo to look a bit like a blending of things that brings up the impression of hand-written letter, ancient stamp and worn out cancel. That’s why the font was chosen to be something that imitates hand writing but is not overly cursive. But I guess my design idea has evolved, and the handwriting look is no longer in need. Somehow I still kept the font – I am kind of afraid that the small cases are too unreadable on this design. Do you think it would work better with a more ‘regular’ type of font?

The project is meant to be ‘timeless’, in the sense that I hope future generation will want to keep updating the database I have gathered. So I don’t plan on putting a date on the logo.

This is incredibly interesting - thanks for sharing! I have started to get into collecting the pictorial cancels and had similar problems as what you identified - there’s no standard size (and no general size info even posted on their website), the Canada Post list is incomplete/needs updating, etc. I finally just went ahead and bought some small cards after having estimated the size of some cancels from photos online and crossed my fingers… :laughing:

And earlier this year I stumbled across the Stamp Raider blog you linked while I was trying to find a more complete list of what’s available to request and love how easy it is to find a specific cancel based on a general theme (though last updated in 2022). I like how the site you’ve set up shows the image immediately, so I can look through them all together, and also offers the ability to search by theme/tag! :smile:

I have some cancels from this year from Beeton (bee), Falher (bee), Beaverlodge (beaver), Leamington (butterfly), and Mount Hope (airplane) post offices - are any of these ones you’re interested in having me measure and pass along to you?

Looks like a mistake! :upside_down_face: I wonder if anyone who has obtained this cancel can confirm it’s also got the spelling error, or if the Canada Post site just hasn’t been corrected (given it’s from 2005… seems an awfully long time to have had no one notice)

Yes, please measure these cancels for me :slight_smile: And if you can, please take a clear and large-enough photo of each individual cancel that I can put on the map / website. Thank you for your contribution!

I guess I will request that La Ronge cancel to see if the mistake is still there :laughing:

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@delda Feel free to edit with dimensions and crop these images as you see fit - I’d taken the photos for my own collection/posting but understand the focus here isn’t on the stamp+cancel combination :smile:

Mount Hope: diameter: 45mm

Beeton: diameter: 45mm, with it increasing to 48-49mm in the area of the bees

Leamington: diameter: 45mm, with it increasing to 47mm around the tip of the butterfly wing

Beaverlodge: diameter: 40mm, with it increasing to about 41-42mm around the image location

Falher: diameter: 40mm, increasing to 41mm at the wing tip

I also have this cancellation from Ingersoll, though the coverage of the stamp takes away from the cancel - perhaps it can be used until another, better one surfaces. I couldn’t find Ingersoll on your map - perhaps this is a new one? (I received this card from someone, so I don’t know exactly which PO they went to)

Measures: diameter: 48-49mm

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I understand about the ‘worn out’. Note that the smaller maple leaves disappear into the worn out look.
Mmmm… yes, italicized = handwriting. A nice tip to tradition. As to what type of font, if you changed it? You’d have to try different ones to see what connects to you visually.
Got it. No date. Makes sense.

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Hey there! I also collect pictorial cancels and I’ve got like 40 of them and I’m more than happy to share them with you. Do you just take a pic on your phone and then post here?

btw I also follow the stamp raider but some of the info are outdated and some of the PO don’t offer pictorial cancels any more. Below are some I know for certain:

Saint-Agapit, QC
Joly, QC
Stirling, AB
Gibsons, BC

You can imagine how disappointed i was when i received a regular stamp after several days of waiting :frowning:

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Hello! I would love to get the cancel information from your collection!

Yes, you can simply take a photo of the cancel with your phone and post it here. Try to take a clear picture focusing on the cancel, but you don’t need to do anything fancy with zoom or macro. The cancels I photographed myself are usually of ~1500 px for its longest edge. But the result with longest edge at 500-600 px is very readable.

Many thanks for your help!

Hi Autumn (@OrdinaryLion), I incorporated the information you provided into the map and the site. Thank you for your contribution! Your help saves me a lot of time and troubles!


I made a few updates regarding the map:

  1. A green dot refers to a currently travelling postmarking request; the information about the cancels available at that particular post office should be updated soon. (Though I find my postmarking requests these days are travelling an unusually long time …)

  2. The yellow colour indicates that there is a conflict between the information found on Canada Post’s directory and Google Map regarding the post office’s address. Right now it’s the Canada Post’s version that’s written in the description field of those post offices.

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Update: dimensions included, all were measured in length x width, or diameter
unit: cm

Ship
Ste-Luce-Sur-Mer, QC
6.2x4.3

Airplane
Barry’s Bay, ON
4

Golf
Brights Grove, ON
4.5

Boat
Winterton, NL
3.9

Train
Wynyard, SK
3.8

Hot air balloon
Mendham, SK
3.7

Sheep
Hemmingford, QC
3.8x4.3 (might be incorrect, given it’s incomplete)

Ski
Wentworth, NS
4.3

Anniversary
Saint-Shenley, QC
3x3.7

Quebec City Assorted

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All diameters were measured in cm

Baseball
Beachville, ON
4.2

Post Office
Beachville, ON
3.8

Polar Bear
Inuvik, NT
4.4

Perogy
Glendon, AB
4.3

Husky
Carcross, YT
3.8

Turtle
Turtleford, SK
4

Observatory
Newbrook, AB
4

UFO
Moonbeam, ON
3.5

Tide
Maitland, NS
4.5

Chicken
Middle Musquodoboit, NS
3.8

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Great!

Can you measure their dimensions as well?