• These stamps were issued by the Province of Canada in the 1850s. (Photo: Siobhan McClelland)

A new permanent gallery near the Nation's capital lets visitors revisit Canadian history through the country's postage.

The Canadian Stamp Collection has a new home on the first floor of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Opening today, the collection features more than 3,000 stamps and includes every Canadian stamp issued as far back as 1851.

1995 Superman and Captain Canuck stamps. (Photo: Siobhan McClelland)

Jean-Marc Blais, the director general of the Canadian Museum of History, says he hopes that museum visitors will get a sense of Canada’s history from the exhibit.

“As we often talk about Canadian history and having the railroad as one of these symbols uniting Canada, I think postal history is another of those big symbols,” he says. “Without stamps, people would not have been able to communicate with each other. Now, it seems to be a given, but you don’t have to go back that far in time to realize that without having that history, perhaps the country would have been different.”

There's a stamp for every collector, with stamps featuring comic book heroes like Superman and Captain Canuck, celebrities like Bryan Adams and John Candy or royalty like Queen Elizabeth II. The stamps can be viewed chronologically or by one of eight themes that vary from sports to culture, history to the environment.

Stamps featuring the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. (Photo: Siobhan McClelland)

Showcased with the exhibit are artefacts that either inspired a stamp’s creation or were used to make it, such as a stained-glass window reproducing a 1976 Nativity stamp. Blais says the artefacts allow visitors to “not only look at the stamp, but also look at the inspiration behind the stamp.”

Some of the artefacts include a headdress, saddlebag and war club, which were on the 1972 Indians of the Plains stamp.

“As a young boy in the 1970s, this is one of the first stamps I collected personally,” Blais says. “It’s quite emotional for me to actually see the original of that headdress and still relate to that stamp I collected 40 years ago.”

In partnership with Canada Post, the museum will continue to add to the collection as new stamps are released.

“The story of our country isn’t something you can close the book on and say we’re done,” says Deepak Chopra, president and CEO at Canada Post. “This is a story that goes on.”