Established in 1891, the Ottawa Philatelic Society (OPS) – the oldest stamp club in Canada – is celebrating its 127th anniversary this October.
The OPS was founded by John Reginald Hooper as the first branch of one of the first groups to focus on Organized Philately in Canada, the Canadian Philatelic Society, which was a predecessor to today’s RPSC founded in 1887. The charter membership of the OPS contains 41 names, 16 of which are of Francophone origin; this is a reflection of Ottawa’s bilingual and bicultural nature.
“The club,” as it’s affectionately referred to by its members, has enjoyed what’s described as “great prosperity” since its formation 127 years ago. After seeing a period of decline during both the Great War and Second World War, it thrived with philately’s rise worldwide. With large membership rolls and successful turnouts at weekly meetings, the club played host to many philatelic luminaries of the time, including Robson Lowe and Alfred Lichtenstein, who made frequent visits to Ottawa.
A gradual decline in membership was reversed during the 1980s, when the club maintained at least 40 members on the books at all times until the turn of the century.
A revitalized program and recruiting campaign in 2000 saw OPS enrolment jump to 100 members. The club currently boasts upwards of 85 members, who frequently include senators, Members of Parliament, senior civil servants, teachers, nurses, doctors, students, retirees, high technology workers, and white- and blue-collar workers. Of course, the club thrives on its members’ diverse interests.
Members continue to write monographs for journals throughout the philatelic world on most aspects of the hobby and have published books on various topics. The OPS library is among the best philatelic libraries in Canada, and the club provides multiple up-to-date catalogues, periodicals and specialty books that members can borrow on a weekly basis.
Not only the oldest Canadian club but also one of the largest clubs in this country, the OPS meets weekly from September to July. The club also sponsors Orapex, Ottawa’s national stamp show, and Miniex, also held in the nation’s capital.
The success of the OPS is based on four aims that date back 125 years:
- to promote the enjoyment and study of philately and postal history in all aspects;
- to cultivate friendship and fraternity among philatelists, postal historians and others interested in philatelic matters;
- to assist the members of the society in acquiring and disposing of stamps and other philatelic and postal history
- material; and
- to encourage ethical practices in every aspect of philately and the study of postal history.
- For more information about the OPS, visit ottawaphilatelicsociety.org.