Canada Post plans to issue two new commemorative stamps to honour the contributions of the hardy Canadian Horse and the Newfoundland Pony to the country’s settlement.
“Both species are recognized for their strength, and, despite their small statures, they’re known to endure harsh environments,” said Wilson Lam, creative director at Toronto-based Wilco Design, in a Canada Post release.
“The silhouettes, which meet when the stamps are put together, capture these qualities by showing them at work,” said Lam, whose agency designed the stamps for their launch May 15 in St. John’s.
The Canadian Horse, nicknamed the “Little Iron Horse,” came from shipments of mixed-origin Norman and Breton horses that included Arabian, Barb and Andalusian stock, sent to “New France” by the king of France in 1665.
Since they developed in isolation from other breeds, these horses eventually merged into a breed of their own, now recognized as the Canadian Horse, Canada Post said.
“Because of its resilience in the face of harsh weather conditions, the Canadian Horse outworked and outlived larger breeds of horses,” Canada Post said, noting the breed went on to near-extinction in the late 19th century and was only declared Canada’s national horse in 2002.
On the second stamp is the “all-purpose” Newfoundland Pony, whose history in Canada dates back to English settlement of Newfoundland in the 17th and 18th centuries.
“These hardy creatures adapted to the harsh climate of the North Atlantic, and over time, they interbred and merged into a common breed, now recognized as the Newfoundland Pony,” Canada Post said.
However, “since the onset of modern technology, which took over the jobs once performed by the ponies, their populations have plummeted drastically.” Newfoundland and Labrador declared the breed a heritage animal in 1997.
As well, the province’s culture minister, Clyde Jackman, noted May 15 that the province has “supported efforts to create an inventory of all historical records associated with the Newfoundland Pony.
“It is our hope that present and future generations will learn how integral the pony was to our ancestors’ daily lives, and how a dedicated group of advocates is helping to rescue this breed from the brink of extinction,” he said.
Fewer than 400 Newfoundland Ponies are living in North America with less than 250 of breeding age, the province said, noting it’s listed as a critically endangered species by Rare Breeds Canada.