Born in Nova Scotia circa 1825 to African-American parents who were freed from the U.S. slave trade, William Hall V.C. proved to be a man of valour. In 1844, he began his seafaring career by working on an American trading ship. He then enlisted in the British Royal Navy in 1852 and participated in the Crimean War for which he received both British and Turkish medals. Following this, he volunteered with a relief force in Lucknow, India. For his outstanding acts of bravery there, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the first Canadian of African descent to have been given this honour.
This stamp for Canada Post portrays Hall as an older, proudly-decorated man. The illustration combines different elements – the sea, his vessel (the HMS Shannon), and his various medals – to tell his story. The larger stamp pane extends this story by highlighting some of the key areas Hall travelled to and lived in. The artwork also incorporates details tied to sea travel, such as a map, compass, and sea birds. William Hall’s signature appears front and centre to bring authenticity to the design.