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July 12, 2013

Ben Franklin's Canadian adventure

As if Benjamin Franklin didn’t get enough recognition.

The “first American” is already present in the Declaration of Independence, the $100 bill and dozens of streets, towns, buildings and monuments all across the United States.

His exploits as a scientist, journalist, politician and diplomat are so integral to the soul of early America it’s difficult to imagine your history without the busy presence of the bifocal-sporting genius.

But officials in Canada, in an act that ruffled the feathers of many a patriotic philatelist, decided to put Ben’s bine (as we say in French) on a stamp issued last month commemorating the 250th anniversary of the launch of Canada’s postal system.

As offensive to some and weird to many as it may seem, the facts do bear out that Franklin was indeed the founder of the postal system in what was then the North American colonies of Great Britain. Among the many, many things Franklin had on his pewter plate at the time was the establishment of a mail run for correspondence between villages, towns and cities penetrating the wilderness of the New World.

The stamp has an engraved image of Franklin (looking somewhat weary and bored) superimposed on a color lithograph of Quebec City from the period, depicting a ship in the river surrounded by smaller boats and firing its cannon with a plume of smoke.

It officially salutes the inauguration in June 1763 of the postal route between Montreal, Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City.

Of course, among the many things Franklin had on the go was finding a way to make the British go away and leave the colonies to fend for themselves and form an independent country. So, while Franklin was running the post office and flying kites and writing pamphlets and running for colonial office, he was also plotting revolution.

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