Seraphim “Joe” Fortes moved from Trinidad and Tobago to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1885. He soon took up residence close to the water on English Bay and began guarding the beach on a volunteer basis. Over a number of years, he taught thousands of children to swim and was responsible for saving many lives while on patrol. In 1901, the city of Vancouver put him on the payroll for his lifeguarding work and when he died in 1922, they held the largest public funeral to that date.
The stamp honouring Joe Fortes features his large figure standing proudly and happily in front of English Bay. A photograph of Fortes in the water is featured on the Official First Day Cover and a lifesaving ring is used as a graphic element throughout the materials.