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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Marrying the Woman of My Dreams and Getting Ready to List Queen Elizabeth Definitives

I'm going to depart from the regular theme of my posts today to share a bit of personal news and to give my profound gratitude to the woman who has stood by me and made it all possible.

On Saturday morning, I asked Steph if she would consider becoming my wife. I had wanted to ask her for weeks, and had, for several months been racking my brain to come up with a novel way to propose to her. Despite having had two unsuccessful marriages in the past, I am still a believer in the institution of marriage and I am an old fashioned romantic, albeit somewhat jaded. So trying to think of something that I could do that would amuse her and that would be original was difficult. After months of thinking about it, I finally had an idea: I would spell out my proposal on a Scrabble board during a game of Scrabble! We play Scrabble quite a bit and enjoy it a lot, so this seemed like the perfect way to propose. I probably should have tested it first to see if the words would actually intersect properly, but I didn't.

Anyway, I soon asked Steph if she would fancy a game of Scrabble. She said no thanks. I would ask her three of four times over the next several weeks and each time she would say that she wasn't really feeling it. So finally on Saturday morning I took out the Scrabble board and opened it up and said to Steph, "I just want to see something for a minute". Then I started arranging the tiles on the board to spell "Will you Marry Me". Unfortunately, the word "will"does not join up with any of the others so I said "Damn it doesn't work!". Steph said " What doesn't?". So I gently pushed the board towards her and said "this". She read it and her jaw dropped and then she said " are you? asking me to marry you?" to which I said "yes, will you?". She said she would think about it. Then I got down on both knees and told her that she was my best friend, that she brings immense joy to my life, that I couldn't imagine life without her and that I love her with all my heart. She teared up and said "yes!!".

It is the third time I have proposed marriage to someone, but I know this time it will work. The other two times I was young: 25 and 33 and had not fully matured. The implication of that lack of maturity was that I didn't know myself well enough to know what I could love and what I couldn't. Like most young people, my love was based on how the other person made me feel and less on who that person was. In Steph's case, there is no doubt in my mind that I love this woman - matter how she makes me feel. She is just a good, solid, kind and loving human being. She doesn't see it of course, and that kind of humility only makes her all the more appealing.

I met Steph at one of the lowest points in my adult life. I had just moved out of my matrimonial home into an apartment in North York with nothing but my stamps and a few random pieces of furniture. I had to go shopping at Ikea to acquire the remainder of my basic furniture. I was traumatized by the abuses I had suffered during my marriage, even though I was far from a perfect husband myself. I was about 98% sure that I was done with dating. Despite that, I knew I had to meet people, so I joined a number of meetup groups, one of which was for lovers of craft beer. As I attended the meetups my perception was strengthened - particularly when I attended the events for the over 40's. My god, there was more baggage there than at Toronto Pearson! People were so guarded. Then one night on February 2, 2013 I went out for my first and only beer lover's meetup at a bar called C'est What? I had been circulating and meeting quite a few people that night when I noticed Steph and her friend. The funny thing is Steph doesn't even drink. She was there to act as the DD for her friend. We met and talked for the rest of the evening and exchanged phone numbers.

From that point on, I thought about her a lot, but not in the obsessive way that I did with many of my love interests when I was younger. My interest in her was intense, but it was much healthier. I called her each week and we met 2 times a week for about a month before we realized that we had a mutual attraction that went beyond friendship. This was the first time in my life that I can honestly say that I wanted someone in my life, no matter in what capacity. If she had just wanted to be friends, I would have been disappointed, but I would have accepted that. She was just too good of a person not to have in my life on some level. I had never felt that way about anyone before.

Steph made me laugh and showed me that I could indeed be loved for myself. She has been so completely accepting of me and all of my quirks and idiosyncrasies. I believe that she knows me better than I know myself sometimes. She is selfless to a fault. I have watched her be a model friends to everyone in her life, and a wonderful daughter to her parents.  I started to see the possibility of starting life anew and soon, I felt a renewed hope.

Thanks to Steph, I was able to walk away from a potentially costly divorce by offering my ex far more than her fair share. I was able to see that as an investment in my new life with Steph rather than as a loss that would leave me bitter. It was Steph who suggested to me that I could make a living full time in stamps. It was Steph who took all of the pressure off of me financially by telling me that she didn't care how much or how little money I made - my happiness was more important to her than money. This was the first time that I felt like I had permission to leave my position as partner of a mid sized accounting firm behind. It was Steph who made it possible for me to accumulate my considerable stock over the last two and half years by being a frugal partner and not demanding a constant stream of expensive gifts, trips away and the like.

She is a truly outstanding human being. That's really all there is to it. I want to be here for her. I want to show her that she really can achieve her dream of being a full time comedian.

So we are looking at a wedding in October next year, or possibly the spring of 2017. Very exciting times ahead!

Today, I expect to finish sorting the Queen Elizabeth II definitives in preparation for the listings to Christmas. Then I can spend the rest of the week trying to finish the Queen Victoria material. I wanted to show you some examples of the stamps that I am referring to though. They make for an interesting study:

The first issue of the present reign is nicknamed the "Karsh"issue, after the famous photographer Yousuf Karsh, who took the above portrait of the young Queen. This series consisted of 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c and 5c stamps of the above design, as well as a 7c, Canada Goose, a 20c Pulp and Paper Industry design, a 50c Textile Industry design and a $1 totem pole design. The 1c-5c values were replaced in 1954 by the stamps of the next series, but the 20c remained in use until 1956, the 7c and $1 until 1963 and finally the 50c until 1967. 

The next issue is nicknamed the "Wilding" issue, after the photograper Dorothy Wilding, who took the above portrait of the Queen. This series consisted of a 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c,and 6c of the above design, as well as a 10c Inuk and Kayak design, a 15c Gannet design, a 20c Paper Industry design, and a 25c Chemical Industry design. The low values to 6c and the 15c were replaced in late 1962 and early 1963 by the stamps of the next issue, but the higher values remained in use until they were replaced in 1967 by the Centennial Issue Group of Seven designs. 

This next issue is nicknamed the "Cameo" issue, due to the very simple nature of the designs. The low values consisted of a 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c and 5c, each depicting a different symbol in the upper left corner for different natural resources: minerals, wood, fish, electricity and wheat. There were also 7c and 8c airmail stamps, a 15c Canada Geese design and a $1 Exports design. All of these stamps were replaced in 1967 by the Centennial Issue below.

This issue is one of the most popular among collectors due to its complexity. It is called the Centennial Issue due to the fact that it was first issued in Canada's Centennial year, on February 8, 1967. The set consisted of 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c, 6c, 7c and 8c values depicting the Queen on the right and a different scene from Canada on the left. There were also a series of designs reproducing famous paintings by the Group of Seven. These were the 8c, 10c, 15c, 20c, 25c, 50c and $1 values. The 10c above is the famous "Jack Pine" by Tom Thompson. The higher values were replaced in late 1972 by the stamps of the next series and the low values in 1973.  

This series is nicknamed the "Caricature and Landscape" issue due to the fact that the low values consisted of sketches of former Prime Ministers and the Queen, while the high values depicted various Canadian landscapes. The low values consisted of a 1c John A Macdonald, 2c Laurier, 3c Borden, 4c Mackenzie King, 5c Bennett, 6c Pearson, 7c St. Laurent, and 8c & 10c Queen. The higher values comprised a 10c Forrest, 15c Mountain sheep, 20c Prairies,25c Polar bears, 50c Seashore, $1 Vancouver as shown above and $2 Quebec City. The low values were replaced in 1977 by the next issue and the higher values were replaced between 1977 and 1979. This was the issue that sparked my interest in stamps. 

This issue is known as the "Floral" issue, due to the fact that most all the values up to the 35c depict various trees and wildflowers. There were also designs issued for the first class rates in the form of a bas relief of the Queen and another for the parliament buildings. There were two rate increases during the life of this issue, so there are three denominations of each of these designs. The 50c, 60c, 75c and 80c values depict various street scenes in Canada, while the $1 and $2 values depict Fundy and Kluane national parks. The floral, parliament and street scene designs were replaced in 1982 by the next series. The bas relief Queen design would continue to be used until 1987 and the national park theme would be continued into the next issue with additional higher denominations being introduced. 

This issue is known as the "Artifacts and National Parks" issue. The values below the $1 each depicted a different household object from Canada's pioneer days, while the $1, $1.50, $2, and $5 values depicted Glacier, Waterton Lakes, Banff , Point Pelee and La Maurice national parks. The first class rates utilized the bas relief Queen design, a maple leaf design and a different rendition of the parliament buildings.  There were four general rate increases during the life of this series, so there are several of each of these designs. This was the first series to feature a $5 denomination. These stamps were all replaced in 1988 and 1989 by the Wildlife and Architecture series shown below.

This series that appeared in 1988 is known as the "Wildlife and Architecture" issue. It includes a number of very rare and desirable varieties that are eagerly sought out by collectors. The values to the $1 depict various wildlife, while the $1, $2 and $5 depict Runnymede Library, McAdam Railway Station and Bonsecours Market. The first class rates continued to utilize the parliament design and introduced a new full face portrait of the Queen, as well as a new Flag design. There were three general rate increases during the life of this set. This series featured Canada's first Quick stick stamps and was the last series to have 50c vending machine booklets.  It was gradually replaced between 1991 and 1996 by the next series. 

This series, which first appeared in 1991 is called the "Fruit and Flag" issue. The values up to the 25c depict various edible berries, while the mid values below $1 depict various fruit trees. The first class rates were covered by the Queen and flag designs and Quick sticks were continued in this series but were phased out in 1993 and would not appear again until 1995 with the Greetings stamps. The high values continued the architecture theme with $1, $2 and $5 depicting the Yorkton Courthouse, Provincial Normal School and the Public Library in Victoria BC. There were three general rate increases during the life of this series. The stamps of this series were gradually replaced between 1997 and 1999 by the next series

This is the last series that I have material for at the moment. But it is also the last series to feature a completely new set of designs to the new $10 Whale design. All the stamps issued since this series are variations of the first class stamps for local, US and international rates, as well as a new series of low values for beneficial insects.  This set is known as the "Trades and Wildlife" issue, as the low values feature various skilled trades. A new stylized maple leaf design features into the mid-range values for US and international first class mail, while the dollar values return to the wildlife theme, this time utilizing really exquisite engravings. There is $1 loon, $1 White Tailed Deer, $1 Atlantic Walrus, $2 Polar Bear, $2 Peregrine Falcon, $2 Sable Island Horse, $5 Moose, $8 Grizzly Bear and $10 Blue Whale. There have been multiple rate increases during the life of this issue. The low values up to 25c started to be replaced in 2007, but the high values are still in use to this day.   


  1. Mega congratulations

    And I expect an invite :)

  2. Congratulations Chris, you WELL deserve a good wife beside you!!!

  3. Randomly thought of you and your blog and came upon this. Congrats Chris. You deserve every bit of happiness life can offer.

  4. Thanks Mario! I hope things are going well for you!