‘Symposium’ connects historians with history

By Jesse Robitaille

Third annual PHSC Symposium returning to Hamilton, Ont., July 18-21

A sign of summer holidays for some philatelists, the annual Postal History Society of Canada (PHSC) Symposium is now in its third year.

Once again, this year’s festivities are set to kick off this July in Hamilton, Ont. From the 15-dealer bourse and 120-frame exhibition hall inside the Hamilton Sheraton Hotel, the symposium – in the truest sense of the word – will venture out beyond Hamilton and into the Greater Toronto Area and Niagara Region.

“It helps to put the smaller aspect of what we do in postal history within the entire context of the history and development of our country,” said PHSC Symposium co-chair Bill Longley, owner of Longley Auctions.

With days of social gatherings at historic sites across the region, it’s also “a lot of fun and camaraderie, and for many people, it’s a holiday,” said Longley, who will have a booth on the symposium’s bourse.

“There are a lot of like-minded people, similar to a guided tour in the Yukon or Europe, and people enjoy it as a holiday. It’s not just going and sitting at a stamp show for two days.”

Familiar faces on bourses across Canada, the show’s organizers – including Longley and co-chair David Hobden, who’s also the PHSC president – sought to combine the “best elements from the best shows to bring together a full package for the collector to enjoy,” Longley added.

Aside from the social tours, bourse and exhibits, there’s also a “summer awards party,” as Longley calls it, which will be “more of a party than a banquet.”

It will be held at the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology, which is housed inside the 150-year-old Hamilton Waterworks, designated a National Historic Site in 1977.

“There are no tuxedos or suits, no ‘rubber chicken,’ and no sore butts from sitting and listening to speeches for three hours,” said Longley, who added, “exhibitors will be recognized and awards will be presented, but it’s a light-hearted, fun, family-friendly summer gathering.”

Despite its casual appearance, the “party” is no less prestigious – PHSC officials are slated to announce and induct the society’s latest Fellows – but it is a bit more fun.

Juno Award-winning blues musician Harrison Kennedy, of Hamilton, is also slated to perform that night for partygoers.

“He’s a good match for our audience, having been in the Motown band ‘Chairmen of the Board,’ and he graciously accepted the opportunity to play for us because we’re promoting Hamilton,” said Longley, who added Kennedy, now 77, was also “intrigued by our group” because he had a friend who was a stamp collector.

Tickets for the July 20 “summer awards party” are $85, which doesn’t include transportation to the museum (about 10 kilometres east of the hotel).

HISTORIC TOURS

Through its historic tours, the symposium offers “an obvious connection” to Canadian history, including the country’s development and its ongoing postal history, Longley said.

“There’s a real chance for attendees, including visitors from the outside area – and even outside Canada – to see and feel local history. There are obvious philatelic connections, such as the early transportation of mail on water with ‘steamboat mail,’ and the mission at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, which explores the early development of the Canadian interior.”

A French Jesuit settlement near present-day Midland, Ont., Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is the earliest interior settlement in all of North America and was designated a National Historic Site in 1920.

It will be the site of a tour on July 18, when attendees will arrive at Port McNicoll, where they will tour the SS Keewatin, a Canadian Pacific steamboat, before visiting Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. There will be a catered lunch, tours of the facilities plus a postal history presentation. Later, cocktails will be available at a cash bar followed by a catered dinner.

The cost of this tour, which includes transportation via coach bus to Midland and back, is $140.

On July 19, following a presentation in the morning, organizers will carpool to Dundurn Castle, another National Historic Site in Hamilton, and tour the main house. There will be a catered lunch followed by two postal history presentations plus extra time to tour the facilities.

This tour, which doesn’t include transportation to the castle (about 2.5 kilometres from the hotel), costs $45.

BOURSE & EXHIBITION

The last two days – July 20-21 – include the bourse and exhibition, which will be open July 20 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., followed by the symposium’s “summer awards party.”

On July 21 – closing day – the bourse and exhibition hall will be open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with the PHSC hosting its annual general meeting at 9 a.m.

On July 17, a day before the symposium begins, reference librarian Kathy Hartley, of the Harry Sutherland Philatelic Library, is also leading a tour in Toronto.

With a maximum of 20 spots, a private tour of the Archives of Ontario will start at about 10 a.m. with organizers expecting to remain there throughout the afternoon. Attendees are also invited to attend the evening meeting of the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada at the nearby Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation.

The July 17 pre-symposium “Toronto Postal and History Tour” is pay as you go.

Altogether, the “full package,” which covers all events from July 18-21, costs $270. Registration and payment are required in advance, and the cost includes catered meals and entertainment plus admission to the venues.

The bourse, exhibition and seminars – to be held July 20-21 at the Hamilton Sheraton Hotel on 116 King St. W. – are free to attend.

For more information or to register for the symposium, visit postalhistorycanada.net.

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