BNA collectors celebrating Labour Day in Ottawa this weekend

By Jesse Robitaille

The 71st annual convention of the British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS) is returning to the nation’s capital this Labour Day weekend for the first time in nearly two decades.

Known as “BNAPEX,” this year’s show kicks off tomorrow – Aug. 30 – and runs until Sept. 1. This year, organizers are also marking three anniversaries, including the 125th anniversary of the declaration of Labour Day as a national holiday in Canada.

After ongoing pressure throughout the 1880s and early 1890s, the government of then prime minister John Thompson passed the law making Labour Day official on July 23, 1894 – the same year it became an official federal holiday in the U.S. While parades promoting workers’ rights were held in Toronto as early as 1872, one of the first official parades was held in Winnipeg soon after the 1894 law was passed and stretched about five kilometres, according to The Canadian Encyclopedia.

The first time back in Ottawa since BNAPEX 2001, this year’s show also marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s seventh prime minister from 1896-1911, and the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

The upcoming show boasts more than 20 dealers from across six provinces, a 130-frame competitive exhibition and nearly 20 meetings and seminars hosted by some of Canada’s most active philatelic groups.

“It’s the first time we’ve been back to Ottawa for the BNAPS show for quite a while, and we’re really pleased with the venue,” said convention chair and long-time dealer Roy Houtby, of St. Catharines, Ont., who’s also serving as the show’s dealer liaison and bourse chair.

Held at the Delta hotel at 101 Lyon St. N., this year’s show offers “an excellent venue with a modern convention facility,” said Houtby, who has been in the stamp business for more than 45 years and is a dealer at upwards of 30 shows across North America each year.

With 22 dealers from six provinces, the bourse will open each day at 10 a.m. and close Aug. 30 at 6 p.m.; Aug. 31 at 5 p.m.; and Sept. 1 at 3 p.m.

“They dealers are coming from across Canada – one side of the country to the other – and that in itself is good,” said Houtby, who added the convention kicks off with the opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on opening day.

In addition to the bourse, a roughly 130-frame competitive exhibition will also be held in conjunction with the show.

“BNAPEX is a unique opportunity. Many of us in Canada have an interest in British North America (BNA) philately, whether postal history or stamps or both, and this convention specifically focuses on that,” Houtby said, comparing BNAPEX to other shows with a broader, worldwide focus.

“This is a narrower scope, but there are a lot of people in Canada who have an interest in it.”

In addition to “phenomenal material” offered on the bourse and “millions of dollars of value in the exhibits,” show-goers will also be able to browse BNAPS’ circuit books at the show, said Houtby, who’s the owner of Roy’s Stamps, a member of the American Philatelic Society Dealer Advisory Council and a past president of the Canadian Stamp Dealers’ Association.


Long-time dealer Roy Houtby, of St. Catharines, Ont., is the BNAPEX 2019 convention chair, dealer liaison and bourse chair.

This year, 14 of BNAPS’ study groups are slated to host meetings.

These include groups focused on Newfoundland; “Admiral” stamps; squared circle cancels; “perfins,” or perforated initials; postal stationery; Pence- and Cents-era stamps plus “Large Queens” and “Small Queens”; Elizabethan II and George VI stamps; Canadian military mail; re-entries; Christmas; dead letters; and railway post offices.

“The study groups meet with their members, but anybody who’s coming to BNAPEX and wants to attend them is welcome to do that,” said Houtby.

In addition to one of BNAPS’ regional groups – the Lower Canada Regional Group – the show will feature seminars hosted by the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada and Canadian Aerophilatelic Society, both of which will also man booths on the bourse.

On Aug. 29, a day before the convention kicks off, BNAPS’ board of directors will hold an all-day meeting from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

On Aug. 30, from 3 p.m.-4 p.m., BNAPS webmaster Leopold Beaudet will host a meeting to updated the society’s members about its website,

The following day, BNAPS will host its Order of the Beaver (OTB) fellowship breakfast at 7 a.m., followed by the annual OTB meeting from 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. Both events are private.

Finally, on Sept. 1 from 8 a.m.-9 a.m., BNAPS will host its annual general meeting chaired by President Ken Lemke.

Also that day from 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m., the BNAPEX judges’ critique will be chaired by Vic Willson, a long-time collector from College Station, Texas, and one of the members of the jury.

That evening, after the bourse closes at 3 p.m., the BNAPS Past Presidents’ Reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the past presidents’ receiving line at 6:45 p.m. and the BNAPEX 2019 Awards Banquet at 7 p.m.

Throughout the week, there will also be two five-hour guided tours.

On Aug. 30, show-goers will have a chance to visit Library and Archives Preservation Centre in Gatineau, Qué. The next day is a tour of the Diefenbunker Museum, “Canada’s Cold War Museum,” in Carp, Ont.

Both tours depart the hotel at 8:45 a.m., with a limit of 45 participants.

“Because the focus is BNA philately, anyone worldwide may want to attend,” said Houtby, who added people often attend the show from places “as far away as” the British Isles and sometimes Australia and New Zealand.

Several souvenirs, including show covers and personalized Picture Postage stamps, will also be offered on the bourse by show organizers.

This year’s BNAPEX is being held in co-operation with BNAPS’ St. Lawrence Seaway Regional Group, the Ottawa Philatelic Society and the RA Stamp Club.

For more information about BNAPEX 2019, visit

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