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Published August 10, 2022 Updated August 10, 2022

Canadian heritage playing cards

Canadian Heritage Playing Cards designed by Gabriel de Beney, 1994.

1994 Canada Robert Davies Publishing Gabriel de Beney Commemorative Add to Collection

An attractive double deck of cards published by Robert Davies Publishing of Quebec, titled “Canadian Heritage Playing Cards.” The same cards were also published in a French language version under the title, “Le jeu de cartes Québécois” The cards of this English language version are accompanied by a sheet of paper in English that begins with the following statement:

“The Canadian Heritage Playing Card set was designed by the painter Gabriel de Beney, to recall the turbulent beginnings of Canadian history. The evocative imagery of the face cards symbolizes the society that long ago preceded ours and pays homage to the men and women who, each in his or her own way, played a vital role in those colonial times.”

Turning to the cards themselves, each deck has 52 suited cards, plus 2 Jokers (the same), plus 2 extra cards announcing the deck. The cards are wide, measuring 89mm x 63mm. The figures depicted are not specific historical persons, but rather types of persons that played an important role in the history of the territory called “New France.”

  • The Kings are: a native chieftain; a Governor of New France; a farmer; and a trapper
  • The Queens are: a noble lady; a woman of the country; a native princess; and a nun
  • The Jacks are: soldiers from four 18th century regiments
Canadian Heritage Playing Cards designed by Gabriel de Beney, 1994 Canadian Heritage Playing Cards designed by Gabriel de Beney, 1994

Above: Canadian Heritage Playing Cards designed by Gabriel de Beney and published by Robert Davies Publishing of Quebec, 1994. 52 cards plus 2 Jokers plus 2 extra cards; 89mm x 63mm.

Gabriel De Beney studied in France, where he was part of the Parisien art scene. In 1956, he returned to his native Québec, where he began a collaboration with the Catholic publishing house Fides. He contributed to the publisher's bi-weekly magazine Hérauts starting 1955. He illustrated adventure stories like 'La Sonate de l'Aveugle', 'La Légende de Cadieux' and 'Les Trois Pommes et le calife'. He drew the series 'Ti-Rouge et Pompon' in alternance with Maurice Petitdidier. He also worked for the magazine Vidéo-Presse.

• Lambiek website: Gabriel de Beney

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.

1 comments

Kevin O'Donoghue's Avatar'

The digital 2nd edn of Hochmans lists the French edn of this deck as c1970. It is the very last page of the encyclopedia and has be given the code CDN44


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