By Jesse Robitaille
Canada’s largest national-level accredited show is undergoing some changes, but that’s par for the course in this hobby.
And after what’s being called a “tremendous success” at this year’s Orapex, event co-chair Peter MacDonald said the best is still to come.
“Orapex is not at a dangerous crossroads nor is it in its dying days,” he said. “I am one who believes firmly that its best days are yet to come.”
Fellow co-chair Stéphane Cloutier agreed the “very popular show” was a huge success.
“It was our 54th year – not in a row, but total – and it seems every year it’s more and more of a huge success. At the end of the show, we always get a whole lot of praise from dealers, exhibitors and attendees, and that’s how we gauge how well it went.”
MacDonald echoed these comments, saying this year’s festivities exceeded the expectations of everyone involved.
“Universally, everyone I know remarked on the higher-than-usual attendance on Saturday – a day of astoundingly fabulous weather in the Ottawa area – and the near impossibility of visiting their favourite dealers without having to wait for seats to become available,” he said. “From the nearly 40-dealer bourse to the study group and society meetings, attendees filled rooms with philatelic talk for two solid days.”
However, no great things are without their challenges.
During the weekend, MacDonald and Cloutier both announced they were stepping down as co-chairs of Orapex.
“We both find that organizing the show has actually reduced the time we have with our own collections significantly,” said MacDonald, who added he will support the committee throughout this transition.
Cloutier also announced he was resigning as dealer co-ordinator and MacDonald as publicity co-ordinator.
“However, we will remain on the organizing committee,” said Cloutier. “I’m going to do some smaller yet important behind the scenes jobs and so will Peter.”
He said the changes to the Orapex organizing committee will allow more volunteers to each do fewer things.
“Getting the people is the biggest problem. Volunteers are key,” said Cloutier, adding Michael Powell was instrumental in finding the five new committee members. “Hopefully we’ll find more.”
As of now, the committee has 20 volunteers.
“Like all philatelic organizations, Orapex can always use more volunteers to meet its objectives,” said MacDonald. “Some are needed pre-show and others can take on tasks that only require show-weekend participation.”
As one of Canada’s few national-level accredited shows, Orapex has been a part of the American Philatelic Society’s (APS) World Series of Philately since the APS granted approval to Canadian national-level shows in 2010.
“The World Series of Philately is an agreement the RPSC [Royal Philatelic Society of Canada] has with the APS where – just like other World Series shows in the U.S. – the person who receives the Grand Award wins the chance to enter their exhibit in the World Series of Philately show hosted by the APS every summer in August,” explained John Sheffield, a director with the Canadian Stamp Dealers’ Association.
Cloutier said there are very few national-level accredited shows in Canada each year compared to the U.S. – Orapex, Edmonton and the Royal*Royale, plus Novepex every two years.
Organizers and attendees said this year’s exhibits were powerful, informative and entertaining.
“I was very impressed with the quality of the exhibits, including some of the most fascinating material I’ve ever seen, from Greece to trans-Atlantic mail to silk postcards to a really great youth exhibit,” said MacDonald.
In a great feat of philatelic exhibiting, Jean-Jacques Tillard won the Grand Award for both the single- and multi-frame categories.
“It’s very rare to have one person win the Grand for both categories,” said Dr. Sam Chiu, FRPSC and accredited judge of more than a decade. “It’s very impressive.”
MacDonald said single-frame exhibiting requires a different approach than multi-frame exhibiting, so it’s all the more impressive to have one exhibitor win both.
“The fact that J.J. Tillard has clearly mastered both is a testament to his passion and drive as North America’s single best promoter of SPM [Saint-Pierre et Miquelon] philately.”
In a first for Orapex, organizers announced next year’s theme – aerophilately – at this year’s event. Each year, the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society holds its annual meeting at Orapex, which has long been a destination for exhibitors and dealers of aerophilatelic material.
“Anyone who wants or likes aerophilatelic exhibiting,” said MacDonald, “will find Orapex is the place to be.”
Even amid some shuffling of the organizing committee and feverish searching for volunteers, MacDonald asserted the best is still ahead for Orapex and the hobby.
“The hobby is not dying as some still say; rather, it is and always has been in a state of transition. Technology, if used well, can be an incredible tool for connecting the humans who make these shows run, but without excellent relationships built on trust and mutual support, there would be no shows.”
For more information on next year’s event, visit orapex.ca.