Recent Grand Award winner to speak at Royal Convention

By Jesse Robitaille

Award-winning exhibitor Robert Leigh is set to speak on the postal development of Upper Canada’s Western District at the Royal Convention in Mississauga this June.

Hosted by the Postal History Society of Canada (PHSC), the breakfast meeting and presentation will be held June 23, the last day of the three-day convention of The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC).

“It’s been a life-long passion, and he loves the history – and the postal history – of that area,” said PHSC President David Hobden, who added Leigh is a two-time national-level Grand Award winner.

Leigh’s talk will highlight the early development of postal systems in Upper Canada, with a focus on the most remote area, the Western District.

“The Districts of Upper Canada were the major politic subdivisions between the end of the 18th century and roughly 1850, and the Western District comprised the area that was until recently the counties of Essex, Kent and Lambton,” said Leigh, who recently won a Grand Award with a five-frame exhibit on this topic at Orapex.

“The population of Upper Canada grew along the great settlement roads as well as navigable waters. The development of the postal system, at least initially, followed these same patterns.”

He’s hoping the talk will be of interest to “a variety of people.”

“For those interested in early postal history, I’ll show many tasty covers and associated postal markings. For those with an interest in Canadian history and how it was intertwined with the postal system, I’ll offer a review involving historic maps and other ephemera.”


It was only about two years ago when Leigh, a Chatham, Ont.-born physicist now living in the U.S. and working at the University of Illinois, showed his first competitive exhibit.

Originally a collector of the postal history of Kent Country, which includes not only Chatham but also nearby Essex and Lambton counties, he eventually ventured into the earlier stampless era, which is highlighted in his exhibit on the Western District.

In July 2017, he earned a gold at the inaugural PHSC Symposium, where he received “good feedback from the judges, and in fact, I re-mounted the entire exhibit and made some other changes.”

“It paid off,” added Leigh, who won his first Grand Award only a few months later at Canpex 2017 in London, Ont.

More recently, at Orapex this May, he once again earned the top spot for his exhibit on Western District postal history.

He hopes to compete next at the American Philatelic Society (APS) Champion of Champions event in Omaha this August, when the APS will host its 133rd annual StampShow.

“One of the judges is very experienced and he made a nice suggestion to me, so I may tweak some things,” added Leigh, who’s also the webmaster of the PHSC, after winning the Grand at Orapex this May.

The meeting and presentation will kick off at 8 a.m. in the Greenwich Room of the Hilton Mississauga, which is the venue for this year’s RPSC Convention. Meeting tickets are available through Hobden via for $25.

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