By Jesse Robitaille
The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada’s (RPSC) Roll of Fellows is returning to the organization’s annual convention next weekend, when at least one newly elected Fellows will add his or her name to pages also signed by the Queen.
From June 29-July 6, 2010, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited Halifax, N.S.; Ottawa, Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.; and Winnipeg, Man., in what was Her Majesty’s 22nd tour of Canada. It was on this tour – from July 4-6, when she was in Toronto – that the Queen signed the roll.
“The signature was to recognize the 50th anniversary of the patronym ‘Royal’ given to the society in 1959,” said RPSC historian Charles Verge, who added there’s no photograph of the Queen signing the roll.
“It was done in private with other documents she had to sign.”
The roll will be displayed “for maybe 15 minutes,” Verge added, at the RPSC Awards Banquet on June 22, the second day of the three-day convention. It will also be shown at the RPSC booth on the bourse earlier that day from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
To qualify as a Fellow of The RPSC, potential candidates must be members of the society and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- they have actively worked for the betterment of The RPSC;
- they have promoted Canadian philately extensively through writing; and
- they have, through a number of initiatives, improved Canadian philately at the international level.
This year’s 91st convention of The RPSC, to be held June 21-23 in Mississauga, Ont., celebrates 60 years since Canada’s national stamp club received permission to use the “Royal” prefix from Queen Elizabeth II.
“This honour was due to the untiring efforts of the late Dr. G. M. Geldert,” wrote Kenneth Rowe, a Senior Fellow of The RPSC and signatory of the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, in a story in the January-February 1969 issue of The Canadian Philatelist.
It was 1958 when Geldert, then president of what was known as the Canadian Philatelic Society, began seeking permission to use the “Royal” prefix, said Verge, who was named a Fellow of The RPSC in 1997.
“At the time, as it is today, such requests must have the support of the Government of Canada,” Verge wrote in the summer 2009 issue of PhilaJournal.
“Although The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada has no files on hand on the negotiations undertaken by Dr. Geldert, it is safe to say that he built a substantial file to submit to the Governor General-in-Council, i.e. the Cabinet, through the offices of Henri Courtemanche, the Secretary of State. He also lobbied the Post Office Department and its Minister, the Honourable William Hamilton. Furthermore, Dr. Geldert had strong ties and links with the influential Royal Philatelic Society, London.”
While the society was formally advised of the Queen’s consent on May 20, 1959, the request was approved by the Queen in mid-April.
Members were advised of the decision at the Canadian Philatelic Society’s 31st annual convention banquet, which was held May 16, 1959, in Sarnia, Ont.
“On this occasion, the Postmaster General, William Hamilton, the guest of honour and guest speaker, made the announcement that 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,’” wrote Verge.
“This quote from The Canadian Philatelist of July-August, 1959 (Vol. 10, No. 4) was followed by these comments, ‘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. Our President, Dr. G. M. Geldert, could hardly contain himself and he was just bubbling over.’”
Since the 1959 announcement of the “Royal” decision in Sarnia, Ont., this year’s convention in Mississauga will mark the 61st annual show under The RPSC banner.
THE QUEEN & CANADIAN PHILATELY
In addition to granting The RPSC its “Royal” designation, the Queen has promoted Canadian philately by agreeing to display portions of the British Royal Family’s Royal Philatelic Collection at least six times in Canada and at several other exhibitions around the world.
She has also allowed material from the collection, which is believed to be the most comprehensive philatelic collection of U.K. and British Commonwealth material, to be used for expertization purposes and illustrations in articles and books.
For more information about the three-day show, visit rpscroyal.com.