Ottawa native Raymond Larabie was living half a world away in Japan when the federal government asked him to design a unified font that could support English, French and indigenous languages in time for Canada's 150th birthday.
His task was to build on an English and French font he released last year.
The result was the Canada 150 typeface.
"If you picture the Monopoly font, how it's got kind of pointy bits on the M and the N, it's that kind of idea," he told Alan Neal on CBC Radio's All In A Day. "It wasn't designed to be terribly exciting. It's meant to be kind of in the background and quiet."
The Canada 150 typeface includes all Latin characters and accents, as well as common Cyrillic characters and syllabic and diacritical elements that are part of indigenous languages.
The typeface can be used by any individual or group that first goes through the federal government's application process.
Fonts for sandwiches
Larabie was born in Ottawa but grew up in cottage country along the Madawaska River. He now lives in Nagoya, Japan where his company Typodermic Fonts Inc. is based.
Although "it doesn't make sense" that he designed a typeface for Canada while living abroad, Larabie did say his years in Canada set him on the right track.
"I had already absorbed so much typographical knowledge from Canada from looking at the Canadian Tire logo and Shoppers Drug Mart. All those years, it just kind of soaked in," he said.
Listen to the full interview below.
His company website offers some fonts for free — but it does accept sandwiches as a donation.
"The sandwich situation is dire in Japan," he said. "I hate to bad-mouth this country but they have some troubles with sandwiches. They just don't get it."