BNAPS’ global support brings strong attendance

By Jesse Robitaille

With show-goers coming from as far away as Europe, where a handful of countries share Canada’s ties to British North America (BNA) philately, this year’s “BNAPEX” was held in Ottawa through Labour Day weekend.

The 71st annual convention of the British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS) took over the downtown Delta hotel, only a few blocks from Parliament Hill and Library and Archives Canada, on Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

“We had guests from Great Britain, Jersey, Sweden, the Netherlands – plus the Canadian and U.S. contingents – and some were exhibitors but others were just BNAPS supporters,” said convention chair Roy Houtby, of St. Catharines, Ont.

“I think BNA philately is still very popular – obviously, it is in Canada because that’s what it’s all about – but there are a tremendous number of visitors from the U.S. who support BNAPS plus other guests from overseas.”

Historically, Labour Day is the traditional date for BNAPEX, “so ‘BNAPSers,’ if you will, are well able to attend,” added Houtby, a long-time dealer who also served as the show’s dealer liaison and bourse chair.

Another yearly tradition is the annual BNAPEX Awards Banquet, which is held on the Sunday night of every convention, encouraging many attendees to stay in town through the following week “for a little vacation,” added Houtby.

“With BNAPEX, there are a lot of special events.”

Earlier in the week, on Aug. 30, the show’s “night out” – another long-running piece of BNAPEX history – was held at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

“There were lots of laughs and good times there, too,” said Houtby.

There were also nearly two dozen seminars, study group meetings and society gatherings held during the three-day show.

“That was really good, and overall, we were really pleased with the facility. The Delta worked well with us, and attendance was strong – maybe even better than anticipated – and dealers were very positive” said Houtby, who’s a member of the American Philatelic Society Dealer Advisory Council and a past president of the Canadian Stamp Dealers’ Association.

One of the highlights of the seminar schedule was the Aug. 31 meeting of the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada (PSSC) led by U.S. collector Ron Majors, who’s also the first vice-president of BNAPS. He spoke on the cross-border use of U.S. Civil War patriotic covers.

Later that day, Majors also discussed the history and design of early Canadian mourning covers at the Pence and Cents Era Study Group meeting, which he chaired. He’s also the study group’s chair and served as its newsletter editor from 2012-15.

Also at this year’s convention, Majors was elected to the BNAPS fellowship – the Order of the Beaver.

“It’s a prestigious award,” said Houtby, “and the highest you can achieve in BNAPS. That honour was bestowed on him.”


Another highlight of the annual convention is its competitive exhibition, which saw 18 golds awarded across 35 exhibits.

No “large golds” were awarded, however, as BNAPS’ regulations include only five medal levels (gold, vermeil, silver, silver bronze and bronze).

“We do not follow the medal levels that The RPSC does, and the level of medal may vary from The RPSC as we are a more specialized society of just BNA material,” said Chief Judge Gary Steele, who was joined on the jury by Victor Willson and apprentice judge Jeffrey Arndt.

With more than half of the exhibits awarded at BNAPS’ top medal level, this year’s exhibition “was of very high quality in material and exhibit presentation,” said Steele, who’s also a BNAPS director.

Described by Steele as “the epitome of exhibiting excellence of a very difficult subject over a 28-year period,” Guillaume Vadeboncoeur’s “Canada – The Small Queens of 1870-1897” won the Horace Harrison Grand Award.

“It will be the standard for other similar traditional Small Queen exhibits for years to come,” he added.

Vadeboncoeur’s exhibit also won BNAPS’ Order of the Beaver Novice Award.

Grégoire Teyssier won the Allan Steinhart Reserve Grand Award for his exhibit, “Canadian Government Official Postmarks (1841-1939).”

“It is of exceptional high standards in exhibit presentation, research, and quality of material,” said Steele, who added it was a “well-deserved” Reserve Grand winner.

Teyssier’s exhibit also won the PSSC Specialization Award.

“There were many new exhibits this year not shown before at a BNAPEX,” added Steele, referencing the Grand Award-winning Small Queen exhibit.

Other entries that were new to BNAPEX include:

  • George Dresser’s “The Mammal Definitives 1988-1992,” which earned a gold;
  • Brian Stalker’s “Labrador Moravian Missionary Mail 1885 to 1912,” which also earned a gold;
  • Barry Millman’s “Mail Labels from the Inter-University Transit System,” which again earned gold plus the Ed and Mickey Richardson Award; and
  • Wendi Trauzzi’s “A Chronological Look at Rationing in World War 2 Canada,” which won a silver, The RPSC Title and Synopsis Page Award, plus “particular interest” from attendees.

“On Sunday, after the awards are given out, we also do an hour-and-a-half judges’ critique of all exhibits with the intention that all exhibits can be improved further even if given a gold medal.”

BNAPEX 2020 will be held in Dartmouth, N.S., next Labour Day weekend.

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