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The Polar Year - Manx Connections with Canada 14 August 2007

In addition to the set of six stamps, Isle of Man Post Office is issuing a miniature sheet of stamps as part of the International Polar Year Project.

The 75p stamp features the Sprit Bear which was adopted as British Columbia’s provincial mammalian emblem in April 2006. The rare creamy white bare is often mistaken as a polar bear. It was Manxman Francis Kermode, second curator of the Provincial Museum of Victoria, British Columbia, who established that it was an American grizzly with a genetic defect. He did so after being entrusted with the first live specimen to be caught – a six-month-old female cub. This led to it being known as the sub species Ursus Kermodia – the Kermode Bear. Today 1.8 million hectares of British Columbia’s central and north coast has become a protected area.

The other 75p stamp tells the story of the Hudson Bay Post Office. This September marks the centenary of the township of Hudson Bay, formerly Hudson Bay Junction. For almost one third of its existence (1931-1961) the latter’s post office was operated by Dick and Elizabeth Jervis (formerly Carberry) of Douglas. The wooden-planked post office was also their home. Mail came by train, was collected by Dick in a two-wheeled cart and kept by him until people collected it.

The 50p stamp features Manxman Graham (Jimmy) Oates. In September 1932 he came along the railway track on a motorcycle and sidecar he called Miss Manxland. His mission was to be the first person to reach Hudson Bay on a rubber-tired vehicle. That meant riding on the railroad track for more than 700 miles, the tyres almost fully deflated so they could overlap and give grip to the line. He had been derailed repeatedly. At night he had slept alongside the track in an eiderdown sleeping bag. In his sidecar he had the head and antlers of a moose he had shot. These were shipped to the Isle of Man and mounted in his new home at Clay Head, Baldrine, which was named Moose Lodge.

Meanwhile the other 50p stamp depicts the home of a Manx couple. In the early 20th century socialite travellers, including US President Teddy Roosevelt and the Prince of Wales, undertook expeditions down the 17-mile long Tagish Lake in British Columbia aboard the sternwheeler Tutshi. What attracted them in the glacial valley was a legendry two-acre settlement with its own microclimate called Ben-my-Chree – Manx for ‘Girl of my heart.’ Manx couple Otto and Kate Partridge had joined in the Klondike gold rush. They had mined for gold until a landslide had entombed their partners. They had built paddle steamers for the lakes and rivers; then, when demand for vessels had diminished because of the railroad, they had developed this homestead. The Partridges kept ‘open house’ and regaled visitors, over teacakes and rhubarb wine with stories of the ‘old days’ and the Isle of Man.

Although the Partridges died in 1930 and 1931 and sailings by the Tutshi stopped in 1955, the log cabin and its contents remain intact, usually stocked by its owners with firewood and provisions. A message over the door tells travellers, ‘Use things as you need them. Leave things as you found them.’

Issue date: August 20, 2007

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