By Jesse Robitaille
Two years into COVID-19, Canadian philately continues to enjoy strong demand and higher-than-expected values as the hobby builds on the lessons learned in the early days of the pandemic.
Despite an ongoing lack of in-person shows, club meetings and other events, collector interest has held strong over the last 12 months. Some organizations, including the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) plus other local stamp clubs, are reporting increased membership as they continue to develop virtual programming.
“I think it’s been really strong,” said RPSC President Ed Kroft, whose final term at the helm of the country’s national stamp club comes to a close this June, when the society holds its annual general meeting at CAPEX 22.
“We’re lucky in that a lot of very capable people are involved in Organized Philately in Canada,” Kroft said, referencing his fellow RPSC officials plus leaders with other national and regional organizations. “They’re all strong, but the local clubs are also going strong, too.”
Kroft noted many of the clubs adopting a virtual program, including online meetings and other digital events, have found success by expanding their reach to members and non-members alike during the pandemic.
“I think one of the ‘make-or-breaks’ for people has been virtual presentations and meetings,” he said, adding several clubs, including some of the RPSC’s roughly 80 chapters, were able to bring in new members in 2021.
“Unfortunately, some clubs have had difficulty,” he added, referencing the Stratford Stamp Club, which voted to dissolve this fall (“Stratford club closes doors,” CSN Vol. 46 #18).
Despite these struggles, Kroft thinks Organized Philately is in a “strong position” heading into year three of the pandemic; however, it comes with some uncertainty as people – collectors among them – long for a post-pandemic world.
“I think everyone’s tired of the pandemic. Everyone feels that the restrictions have been difficult at times. It kept people from their families, friends and social interactions, but life is finite, and every year matters to people. Time is marching on.”
One of the pandemic’s “silver linings,” Kroft said, has been its effect in pushing the hobby into the 21st century.
“It’s really gotten people from near and far to interact and to share material, knowledge and information. It’s been quite wonderful, and I know I’ve made new friends from around the world just by virtue of attending the meetings and connecting on likemindedness and on matters of common interest.”
Without ways in which people could enjoy their hobby virtually, the pandemic would have played out quite differently for collectors, he added.
“In the absence of virtual meetings and presentations, I think it would be very hard on people – and has been hard on many people who haven’t had the knowledge of or access to the technology.”