60 years of ‘Royal’ philately celebrated on second show cover

By Jesse Robitaille

Designed by the West Toronto Stamp Club (WTSC), a second show cover marking the 60th anniversary of the former Canadian Philatelic Society receiving its “Royal” designation will also be available at this weekend’s Royal Convention.

Towards the end of the fifties, G. M. Geldert, then president of the Canadian Philatelic Society, began seeking permission to use the “Royal” prefix in a proposal to Canadian Cabinet, including Secretary of State Henri Courtemanche. Geldert also lobbied the Post Office Department (now known as Canada Post) and Postmaster General William Hamilton.

In May 1959, the Canadian Philatelic Society was formally advised of Queen Elizabeth II’s consent to use the “Royal” prefix in an official letter from Courtemanche; however, the request was approved a month earlier as outlined in a letter from the Queen’s Private Secretary Michael Adeane.

Members were advised of the decision at the Canadian Philatelic Society’s 31st annual convention banquet on May 16, 1959, in Sarnia, Ont. Postmaster Hamilton, who was the banquet’s keynote speaker, announced the Queen “had been graciously pleased to grant … the right to incorporate the word ‘Royal’ in its name and that it henceforward it would be known as ‘The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada’ (RPSC).”

“For a moment, the 300 people present were stunned, and then a furore broke out and a standing ovation was given to the Postmaster General,” reads a story in the July-August 1959 issue of The Canadian Philatelist, The RPSC’s bimonthly journal.

“Our President, Dr. G. M. Geldert, could hardly contain himself and he was just bubbling over.”

Pietro Annigoni’s 1955 portrait of the Queen – known as ‘Queen Regent’ – is depicted on the show cover.


Since the stunning 1959 announcement in Sarnia, this weekend’s convention in Mississauga will mark the 61st annual show under The RPSC banner.

To be held June 21-23 in Mississauga, Royal*2019*Royale is celebrating two important themes, the first of which is the 60th anniversary of The RPSC being granted its “Royal” prefix.

The WTSC, one of three co-hosts for this year’s convention, designed a show cover commemorating this theme. It features the 1955 portrait of the Queen by Pietro Annigoni – known as Queen Regent – to the left.

“I’ve heard the Queen always loved the Annigoni portrait,” said WTSC member Garfield Portch, who designed this show cover as well as the Royal Convention program cover.

Indeed, the 1955 portrait “was popular with the public and liked by the Queen but criticized for its romantic treatment and for prioritizing Elizabeth’s role as the monarch over insights into her inner life,” adds Calvin Hui, co-founder and chair of Hong Kong’s 3812 Gallery, on the gallery’s website.

The painting was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, a livery company in London, England, and was first displayed in 1955 before being loaned in 1958 and 1986 and exhibited in 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery. It’s currently displayed at the company’s headquarters, Fishmongers’ Hall, located on London Bridge.

The full-length portrait, which was produced in tempera, oil and ink on paper and canvas, shows the recently crowned, 28-year-old Elizabeth wearing the robes of the Order of the Garter, an order of chivalry founded by King Edward III of England in 1348. She’s set against a pastoral landscape inspired by her comment to Annigoni during the preliminary sketches in Buckingham Palace.

“When I was a little child, it always delighted me to look out of the window and see the people and traffic going by,” she’s reported to have said at the time.

Upon its unveiling, the painting was described by the National Portrait Gallery as displaying the Queen “in a sylvan idyll yet outward looking and connected to her surroundings” and added, “it drew crowds said to be ten-deep with viewers fascinated by the portrait’s idealized yet penetrating character.”


A five-cent stamp issued in 1959 for that year’s royal visit is reproduced in a Picture Postage stamp affixed to the upper-right corner of the show cover.

In the upper-right corner of the show cover is a Picture Postage stamp featuring Canada’s five-cent Queen Elizabeth II stamp (Scott #386) issued by the Post Office Department in 1959 for that year’s royal visit.

“It all fell into a nice little package,” said Portch, of the theme on the show cover. “It was too good to pass up.”

Unsure if the 1959 five-cent royal visit stamp could be reproduced on a Picture Postage stamp, Portch contacted Jim Phillips, director of stamp services at Canada Post, who was “very happy to allow us to use it,” Portch added.

“It’s a lovely coincidence everything has come together this way, so we jumped at the opportunity to create this.”


The second show theme, “It’s Your Royal,” pays tribute to all members and the important role each one plays in enhancing our hobby for collectors of all ages and levels.

Presented by the WTSC as well as the Bramalea Stamp Club and Canadian Stamp News, this weekend’s Royal will serve to celebrate members as well as the important role each one plays in the preservation and growth of this great hobby.

“It’s Your Royal” is the underlying theme of The RPSC’s revised strategic plan, which was unveiled by RPSC President Ed Kroft at last year’s convention in St. Catharines, Ont.

“What the Royal wants to do is become the premier, go-to philatelic organization in Canada. It wants to be inclusive rather than being exclusive. It wants to be an organization for all to join,” said Kroft, who adds “the hobby is changing” and Canada’s national philatelic organization must follow suit.”

All RPSC members are encouraged to attend the society’s annual general meeting (AGM), where they can ask questions, raise concerns and voice their opinions, on June 22 at 10 a.m., in the hotel’s Compass Room.

The RPSC board of directors is slated to meet at 11 a.m. – immediately after the AGM – in the same room.

This weekend’s show is being held at the Hilton Mississauga located at 6750 Mississauga Rd. The bourse and exhibition hall will be open on June 21 from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; on June 22 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and on June 23 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5 on June 21 and 22, free on June 23, or $8 for a two-day pass covering both Friday and Saturday.

For more information about this year’s show, visit rpscroyal.com.

  • Canada’s National Society

    The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) is Canada's national society for philatelists (stamp collectors, enthusiasts and aficionados). The RPSC speaks for all Canadian collectors at provincial, federal and international levels of philately and is a member of the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP)  and the Federation Inter-Americana de Filatelia (FIAF).


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