By Jesse Robitaille
Canada’s first in-person national show since October 2019 went ahead to hearty applause this April as a recently reformed organizational structure found success at a new venue.
Reorganized last year as an Ontario not-for-profit corporation known as the Ottawa Regional Association of Stamp Exhibitions – or Orapex – the group hosted its first event on April 23-24; however, it was the show’s 59th outing since 1961. The new venue, a heated curling rink at the Nepean Sportsplex, held about 30 dealers and nearly 170 exhibit frames while drawing praise from many show-goers.
“If compliments testify to the strength of the show, it was a complete success,” said show chair John Tooth, a former president of the Ottawa Philatelic Society (OPS), one of the three main clubs whose members organize the annual show. “We have received thanks related to the exhibits and the bourse from a wide range of attendees, including dealers, philatelists and exhibitors.”
Regarding the dealers and exhibitors, Tooth specifically described their applause as “a measure of our success.”
“They liked the venue for its spaciousness, the temperature of the room, the loading dock allowing for easy entry and exit, and the ample parking.”
For many show-goers, Orapex was one of their first physical philatelic events in two years. For exhibitors, it marked the first in-person national-level competition in two and a half years, stretching back to Canpex 2019 in London, Ont.
“It felt great to be back at an in-person national show,” said exhibitor Jean Wang, of Toronto, who won the Grand Award for her five-frame thematic exhibit, “Blood: A Modern Medicine.”
While she attended Trajan Publishing’s National Postage Stamp & Coin Show two weeks earlier in Mississauga, Ont., Orapex was her first in-person competition since Canpex 2019, where she also won the Grand Award – a first for a thematic exhibit at a Canadian national show.
“It was just really nice to see old friends and new friends that I had made during the pandemic through virtual meetings and sit and browse through dealers’ boxes,” said Wang, who’s also the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) delegate to the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie thematic commission. “Also, it was great to chat with other exhibitors. Philately is a very social hobby, and although we’ve been managing through the pandemic with virtual presentations and meetings, it’s just not the same as actually being there.”
Understanding collectors, exhibitors and other people involved in philately have longed for camaraderie through the pandemic, Orapex organizers provided an area for them to sit together and simply talk.
“While Zoom offers some communication, it does not replace face-to-face contact,” said Tooth, who added the “chat area” separating the exhibits and the bourse “was well used the entire time, giving people an opportunity to do stamp talk and social interaction, which we have all missed over the past two years.”
Despite only planning this year’s show since last summer, when organizers lacked both a venue and funding, they are “very happy with the results,” Tooth said.