Canada Post has created a special postage stamp to commemorate the Alpine Club of Canadas 2006 centennial, and on July 19 ACC members and all Canadians will get to see what it looks like.
One of two special (and completely unrelated) stamps to be released this July, "The Mountaineering Stamp" will be officially unveiled at the Canmore Civic Centre at an event open to the general public. But the appearance of the stamp itself will remain a mystery until that day.
"We wont see it until the unveiling," said Tanya Ritchie, ACC centennial event coordinator. "Ill be as excited to see it as everyone else."
Long-time ACC member Bev Bendell suggested the stamp in the late 1990s, and the plans were pursued by another long-time ACC member and centennial committee chair Mike Mortimer, said ACC executive director Bruce Keith.
"It goes back a long way," Keith said. "Way back in 98 members were thinking, what can we do to make the clubs centennial special?"
Keith wrote to postmaster general Andre Oullette that year, and waited until the end of 1999 before he received a reply, saying the request/suggestion was being channelled through Canada Posts usual committees.
"After that we didnt hear anything back until 2002," Keith said.
At that point, Keith replied assuring CP the club was still interested in pursuing the project, and offered to help in any way possible.
A couple of years later, a researcher visited the ACCs national office in Canmore and interviewed several key people to gather research.
Then in 2005, the list of stamps to be issued for 2006 was announced, and the ACC centennial stamp had made the list.
"When we heard about that, we offered to help with the design, and the background research," Keith said. "But they said no, they would assign a regular research consultant, as per standard procedure."
While an idea for a commemorative coin more complicated and more costly never materialized, Keith said the ACC is thrilled to have its own special postage stamp.
"Its a huge milestone in the clubs evolution and history," Keith said, of the centennial. "They wont tell us whats on it, but well be excited to see it, whatever it looks like. The stamp program is an excellent way for all Canadians to know about Canadian events, including those that focus primarily on one aspect of geography or history."
Ritchie said at least one of the two artists commissioned to design the stamp, Xerxes Irani of Calgarys Non Fiction Design, should be present at the unveiling.
The event will also include a screening of a short film on the history of the ACC, produced by ACC VP Mountain Culture, Bob Sandford.
As well, Ritchie added, Canada Post will issue a Day of Issue cancellation for serious collectors.
"Our members will be extremely proud," Keith said. "And they should be."