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Edmonton’s Harbin Gate immortalized in set of new stamps honouring Chinatowns

Edmonton’s Chinatown gate, the Harbin, is among eight in Canada now featured on commemorative postage stamps.
Edmonton’s Chinatown gate, the Harbin, is among eight in Canada now featured on commemorative postage stamps. Edmonton Journal/Supplied

EDMONTON – Edmonton’s Chinatown gate, the Harbin, is among eight in Canada now featured on commemorative postage stamps.

Colourful symbols of Chinese heritage and culture, the gates were a sign to thousands of new immigrants from Asia that they were welcomed in their new environment, Canada Post said in a recent news release about Wednesday’s launch.

Edmonton’s is the third largest Chinatown in Canada, centred on 97th Street between 105A and 108A avenues. The Harbin Gate — a gift from and named for Edmonton’s sister city in northeast China — was erected in 1987 at 102nd Avenue and 97th Street, the district’s southern end. Among its many handcrafted details are sculpted lions at the base, which have balls in their mouths that can be rolled for good luck.

Also featured on the stamps are Victoria’s Gate of Harmonious Interest — at the heart of Canada’s first Chinatown — as well as gates in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Mississauga and Montreal.

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“The historical and symbolic importance of these Chinese gates in Canada are beautifully represented in these stamps,” says federal Minister of State (Transport) Steven Fletcher.

Known in Mandarin as paifang, the gates are usually made of stone or wood and were used in China to separate subdivisions within cities. They now serve as monuments and reminders of the culture and heritage that the Chinese community has brought to the Canadian mosaic, Canada Post said in its release.

The watercolour depictions were created by eight different illustrators to give each stamp design a unique local perspective. Designer Hélène L’Heureux worked with the illustrations to ensure that the stamps came together visually as a unified set.

“These Canadian neighbourhoods provide so much diversity and energy to each city and the gates are a symbol of that,” says Deepak Chopra, Canada Post’s president and CEO. “The relevance and beauty of these eight Chinatown gates deserve this celebration.”

About 4.8 million stamps have been produced for sale in booklets of eight.

The recognition comes just days before Edmonton’s Chinese community hosts a national conference on the history of the district, called Edmonton Chinatown Unveiled.  The conference, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, features lectures films, and bus tours, and starts at the Edmonton Chinatown Multicultural Centre, 9540 102nd Ave.