Canada Post has unveiled two stamps honouring Canadians who served overseas and on the home front, to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (May 8, 1945), when Nazi Germany surrendered to Allied forces, ending the Second World War in Europe.
The stamps tell the stories of Private Léo Major, who fought to liberate the Netherlands, and factory worker Veronica Foster, who helped recruit women to the wartime workforce. In April 1945, Private Major, of the Canadian Army’s Régiment de la Chaudière, was part of the Allied force advancing rapidly through Holland, liberating Dutch civilians from years of brutal Nazi occupation. Known as the “one-eyed ghost” after a bomb blast left him with only partial vision, Major and his friend Corporal Welly Arsenault had volunteered to scout the German-occupied Dutch town of Zwolle. When Arsenault was killed early in the mission, Major took revenge by storming the enemy outposts alone. Tricking the Germans into believing they were under full attack, he single-handedly captured dozens of prisoners and, with the help of the local resistance, forced the enemy’s retreat. Major earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the lasting gratitude of the townspeople for his heroism.
Canada’s military and economy were supported by unprecedented numbers of Canadian women who filled vital roles in factories and on farms during the war. Foster was among them. A vivacious and patriotic young woman, she spent her days assembling Bren machine guns at a factory in Toronto, where she was discovered.
The Canadian government created a powerful promotional campaign around “Ronnie the Bren gun girl,” motivating a generation of women to roll up their sleeves to support the Allied effort. Foster is thought to have inspired the creation of the fictional “Rosie the Riveter” character in ads that later appeared in the United States.
The stamps were designed by Ivan Novotny, Taylor Sprules Corporation, and printed by the Lowe-Martin Group. They are available at canadapost.ca/shop.
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