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George Day - Birthday Celebration - June 22, 2007

Birthday parties can be noisy affairs — and this one was especially loud. But then again, the person being feted was the city’s namesake. And it was a special birthday! It was horns, a cake, entertainment and a special stamp.

 
The George Vancouver stamp - especially interesting because it is believed to be the first time a Canadian stamp has been issued for a person whose face you can’t see.This is because no one is quite sure what he looked like.  

Captain George Vancouver, one of the world’s great mariners, was born in King’s Lynn, UK on June 22nd in 1757 — 250 years ago.

Although the British Navy Captain’s life ended in obscurity when he died in his 41st year in 1798, the city that bears his name and several other organizations plan to honour Vancouver starting at 11:30 am on Friday, June 22nd.

In several voyages between 1791 and 1795, Vancouver charted for the first time the rugged coastline of what is today Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. So thorough were his charts, that mariners used them for well over a hundred years.

As befits a master mariner’s birthday, celebrations were centred at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. At the request of the Vancouver Historical Society, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan proclaimed Friday, June 22nd “George” Day. The Mayor and Canada Post unveiled a special George Vancouver stamp.

The stamp is especially interesting because it is believed to be the first time a Canadian stamp has been issued for a person whose face you can’t see. The image of George Vancouver faces away from the viewer because no one is quite sure what he looked like.

The Vancouver Historical Society worked with the Vancouver Port Authority to arrange a special maritime salute to the Captain. During the noon hour, every vessel in Vancouver’s waters sounded their horns simultaneously for about 10 seconds. This had never been done and was a unique event in Vancouver’s history.

The Port Authority has also arranged a “tugboat ballet” in the waters off the Maritime Museum near Kitsilano Point.

The Harbour Patrol, Canadian Coast Guard, Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Fire Rescue Services also participated with their vessels.

The Maritime Museum hosted an exhibition of George Vancouver artefacts. There was also a special showing of paintings by noted marine artist John Horton of Richmond. John, a sailor himself, has extensively researched and retraced Vancouver’s voyages.

No birthday is complete without cake and we had that too. Children received cardboard cut-out hats in the style worn in Vancouver’s day. The hats, courtesy of the Vancouver Port Authority, featured facts about George Vancouver.

 

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