Numeral Cancels on the Large Queens Stamps


Postal History and Postage Stamps

The Dominion of Canada issued its first postage stamps on 1 April 1868. These replace the provincial issus of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Concurrent with this issue, a set of numeral obliterators from 1 through 60 within twon concentric circles, were placed in use in the 60 largest Post Offices within the Dominion. These official 2 Ring Numeral obliterators replaced the 4 Ring numeral obliterators, of Upper and Lower Canada; and the numeral within grid obliterators, of New Brunswick, at least for those post offices which were assigned and issued the new Dominion two ring type.

Canada Two Ring
Canada Two Ring
Canada Four Ring
Canada Four Ring
Canada Grid
Canada Grid


Much has been written previously on the subject of these fascinating numeral obliterators, principally by Fred Jarrett in his 1929 edition of "British North America"; and by Winthrop S. Boggs in his exhaustive study "The Postage Stamps and Postal History of Canada" published in 1944.

Certainly, the thorough work which these two didi has had much to do with the tremendous interest in the field of Canadian cancellations which is current from the United Kingdom westward to Australia. Because of this greatly increased interest, it seems to us that it is now time to attempt a comprehensive revision of what has previously been published in the light of what has been discovered in the past few years and to make a real effort to elicit new information from the host of new sources crated by the work of the Pioneers. This is of course, a mammoth task, though small in comaprison to that of the trail-breakers.

However, the way to begin any large task is to begin. We have selected the numeral cancels found on the Large Queen Issue as our departure point, and we shall continue from that point in both directions provided the response and co-operation from our fellow philatellists, collectors and dealers alike, is sufficient for us to clear up some of the mysteries and to add subastantially to the lnowledge of Canadian Postal History.

To many, it will seem that we haven begun in the middle, and so we have; but we have done so for the reason that the stamps of the Large Queen Issue are found with the vast majority of all the official numeral obliterators, both provincial and Dominion, and some or all were current as the Dominion expanded.

This is intended primarily as an article to arouse the interest an enlist the aid of the general collector of Canadian material as well as the advanced specialist. It is our intention, in this article, to cover in a rudimentary fashion the basic knowledge of numeral cancels on the Large Queen Issue and to follow it up with a comprehensive and detailed study.

Canada Three ring cancel
Canada Three ring cancel
Canada One ring cancel
Canada One ring cancel
St. john cancel
St. john cancel


Numerous unofficial numeral obliterators

There were numerous unofficial numeral obliterators used, either locally produced or privately purchased from the manufacturers. See the illustrates of variations designs. In addition to these variations which incorporated both the assigned numeral and the circular format, there are other obliterators, probably  locally produced, which incorporate the assigned numeral but not the circular form - using barred squares, squared circles and barred ovals as a surround for the numerals. Boggs listed 8 different numerals of the provincial Canada series with surrounds varying from the official 4 Rings: 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 37. We are particularly anxious to have reports of varieties with other numerals.

There is only one variety that we know of in the provincial grids of New Brunswick.

        The greatest variety of the unofficial, locally produced, obliterators incorporating the assigned numeral in a fancy surround are those of the Dominion series of 1868. Boggs illustrates 16 various designs incorporating the numeral 2 assigned to Toronto and we have noted four additional ones. Boggs shows 13 various designs of the numeral 9 assigned to Kingston and we have noted three others. He shows 6 different of the numeral 8 assigned to Ottawa and we have noted one other. He also shows two types of the numeral 5 assigned to Hamilton and the numeral 6 assigned to London and one each for the numeral 11 assigned to Fredericton and the numeral 14 assigned to Guelph.

We have noted a variety off cover in which the numeral 31 is surrounded by a barred diamond.

Canada barred diamond cancel
Canada barred diamond cancel
British Columbia cancel
British Columbia cancel


Postal service in British Columbia was assumed by the Dominion on August 20, 1871. Since the ½¢, 2¢, 6¢ and 15¢ values of the Large Queen issue were still in current use, it is possible that all of the provincial British Columbia numeral cancels can be found on these values.

On July 1, 1873 the provincial issues of Prince Edward Island were withdrawn and replaced by those of the Dominion. At this time, only the 2¢, 12½¢ and 15¢ Large Queen were in current use, but it is possible that some of these may be found with the Charlottetown numeral 13 or the Prince Edward Island Lot Number cancels.



Lists with all town assignments of the 2 ring numeral obliterators

1  Montreal
2  Toronto
3  Quebec
4  Halifax
5  Hamilton
6  London
7  St. John, N.B.
8  Ottawa
9  Kingston
10 Sydney
11 Fredericton
12 St. Catharines
13 Belleville
14 Guelph
15 Brantford
16 Brockville
17 St. Hyacinthe
18 Yarmouth
19 Peterborough
20 Galt
21 Goderich
22 Galt
23 Woodstock
24 Stratford
25 New Glasgow, N.S.
26 Windsow
27 Ingersoll
28 Sarnia
29 Coburg
30 Pictou
31 Oshawa
32 Barrie
33 Sherbrooke
34 Branchton
34 Chatham, N.B.
35 Lindsay
36 St. John's Que.
37 Amherst
38 Bowmanville
39 Whitby
40 Cornwall
41 St. Mary's
42 Acton Vale
43 Windsor, N.S.
44 Owen Sound
45 Perth
46 Dundas
47 Napanee
48 Simcoe
49 Prescott
50 St. Andrew's N.B.
51 Picton
52 Caledon
53 Three Rivers
54 Truro
55 Berlin (Kitchener)
56 Brampton
57 St. Thomas
58 Aylmer
59 Clinton
60 Newmarket

Back to Main Menu


Dominion of Canada Stamps