A Brief History of BNAPS

Here are highlights of the history of BNAPS from its origins to the present day. Most items come from the following sources:

  1. BNA Topics
  2. BNAPS website
  3. BNA PortraitS

References to the first two sources include a link to the source.


Jack Levine, a collector of Canadian stamps from New York, decides to form a group devoted entirely to the study and collecting of the stamps and postal history of BNA. He sends letters to the leading stamp magazines and newspapers describing his initiative. Encouraged by the response, he organizes a meeting to be held on 28 October at the Collectors Club of New York. Fifteen collectors attend and choose a committee of seven to prepare a Constitution and By-Laws. These are approved and adopted at the first regular meeting of the Society held on 24 November at 505 Fifth Avenue in New York.
BNA Topics, Vol. 1, No. 1, Mar. 1944, p. 2.

The following interim officers are appointed at the 24 November meeting:

  • Walter R. Hoffmann, President
  • Harold R. Meyers, Vice-President
  • William C. Peterman, Treasurer
  • Jack Levine, Secretary

A seven-member Board of Governors is selected: Walter V. Bedell, Daniel C. Meyerson, Fay H. Odell, F. Walter Pollock, Charles E. Sohn, Joseph B. Sheffield, and Michael F. Wadden.
BNA Topics, Vol. 5, No. 9, Oct. 1948, p. 135.

The Constitution identifies five permanent committees: Program, Publicity, Philatelic Literature, Recruiting, and Expertizing.
BNA Topics, Vol. 5, No. 9, Oct. 1948.


The first issue of BNA Topics appears in March. It is consists of 12 pages, and is edited by Harold R. Myers. In most years up to and including 1975, the journal is published eleven times a year.
BNA Topics, Vol. 1, No. 1, Mar. 1944.

The first Regional Group, the New York Group, is formed. It meets once a month.
BNA Topics, Vol. 1, No. 4, July 1944, p. 4
BNA Topics, Vol. 10, No. 8, Sept. 1953, p. 226

The “Report of the Secretary” lists members 1 to 40 plus 8 applications. 100 members have joined by the time the October issue is published.
BNA Topics, Vol. 1, No. 1, Mar. 1944
BNA Topics, Vol. 1, No. 7, Oct. 1944

The inception of the Society Sales Circuit is announced in November. Circuit books containing used Canadian singles and blocks, Canadian booklet panes, and Canadian precancels are available. The Sales Manager is Arthur B. Moll of New York.
BNA Topics, Vol. 1, No. 8, Nov. 1944
BNA Topics, Vol. 1, No. 9, Dec. 1944

The first election of officers is held. Ballots are mailed to the membership. They must be returned by 10 January 1945. The interim President, Walter R. Hoffmann, appoints a three-member Committee on Elections to conduct the election: Jack Levine (Chairman), William C. Peterman, and Walter. J. Tokarski.
BNA Topics, Vol. 1, No. 9, Dec. 1944


The results of the first election are announced in February. 131 election ballots were distributed to members and 72 were returned. The following officers are elected for a two-year term, 1945-1946:

  • Walter R. Hoffmann of New York, President
  • J. Reginald Barraclough of Montreal, Vice-President
  • William. C. Peterman of New York, Treasurer
  • Jack Levine of New York, Secretary

The following are elected to the Board of Governors: Ian C. Morgan (Chairman), Nelson S. Bond, Allen K. Grimmer, Harold R. Meyers, Daniel C. Meyerson, Fay H. Odell, and F. Walter Pollock.
BNA Topics, Vol. 2, No. 2, Feb. 1945

In November, a Society Library is established. Robert J. Duncan of Armstrong, BC, is appointed Librarian.
BNA Topics, Vol. 2, No. 11, Nov. 1945, p. 93


The membership dues for 1946 are $2.00.
BNA Topics, Vol. 2, No. 12, Dec. 1945, p. 99

A Philadelphia Chapter is organized. Its first meeting is on 25 January in conjunction with the Benjamin Franklin Stamp Club. It meets twice a month, but soon goes into hiatus.
BNA Topics, Vol. 3, No. 2, Mar. 1946, p. 32

The first Yearbook appears in February. It contains a list of the members, (there are over 200), a copy of the Constitution and By-Laws, and rules governing the conduct of the Sales Department. It also has a "Members Exchange List", a listing of different collecting areas and the members interested in those areas. There are two active committees: Membership and Library.
Yearbook for 1946, Feb. 1946


BNAPS has a lounge and holds an “informal convention” at CIPEX (Centenary International Philatelic Exhibition, 17-25 May) in New York. A program is organized for Sunday, 18 May:

  • Address by the President, Vice-President, and Secretary
  • Address by A. Stanley Deaville, Superintendent, Postage Stamp Division, Canada Post Office Dept.
  • A film presented by the Canada Post Office Dept.
  • Announcement about the revised Canada section of the 1948 Scott Catalog

About 125 members sign the Registration book in the BNAPS lounge.
Yearbook for 1947, May 1947, p. 11
BNA Topics, Vol. 4, No. 6, July 1947, p. 80

Vincent G. Greene donates a trophy to be awarded annually to the author of the best article or series of articles published in BNA Topics.
Yearbook for 1947, May 1947, pp. 12-13

The June and July issues of BNA Topics carry proposals to amend the Constitution to allow for the following types of membership in addition to the regular membership:

  • Contributing Member – annual dues to be $10.00
  • Life Member – one-time dues to be $50.00
  • Honorary Life Member – to be conferred by the unanimous approval of the Board of Governors; no membership dues are payable

The members ratify the amendments. The results of the vote appear in the November issue of Topics.
BNA Topics, Vol. 4, No. 5, June 1947, p. 67
BNA Topics, Vol. 4, No. 10, Nov. 1947, p. 131

In September, the Philadelphia Chapter is revived. James Culhane is elected President, Alfred Kessler, Vice-President, and Charles McDonough, Secretary. It meets once a month.
BNA Topics, Vol. 4, No. 8, Sept. 1947, p. 110
BNA Topics, Vol. 4, No. 9, Oct. 1947, p. 114


The dues for regular membership increase from $2.00 to $3.00. Some members subscribe to the newly introduced membership types. The Secretary's Report for March lists twelve Life Members and two Contributing Members.
BNA Topics, Vol. 4, No. 11, Dec. 1947, p. 143
BNA Topics, Vol. 5, No. 3, Mar. 1948, p. 34


Henry Thurston designs the BNAPS official seal. It is illustrated in the 1949 Yearbook.
Yearbook 1949, Sept. 1949, p. 3

The first BNAPEX Convention is held at Hotel Statler in Buffalo, NY, on 16-18 Sept. It is hosted by the Niagara Frontier Group (a Regional Group formed in 1949). The committee of 11 is chaired by Richard P Hedley, BNAPS President.

19 competitive exhibits occupy 55 frames, and there are also two hors concours exhibits. The judges are Walter S. Bayley, Winthrop S. Boggs, and Fred Jarrett. William S. and Daniel C. Meyerson win the Philadelphia Group Trophy (Grand Award) for Newfoundland: Postal History; Pre 1900; After 1900; and Airmails.

A convention auction on Friday is called by Walter S. Bayley. L. J. Mills, Director of Financial Services, Post Office Department, is the speaker at Sunday's closing banquet, attended by 80 people.
BNA Topics, Vol. 6, No. 8, Oct. 1949, pp. 131-132
BNAPEX 1949 Convention Program, BNAPS website

The first study group, the Prince Edward Island Study Group, is formed. The Chairman is Leslie G. Tomlinson and the Secretary is Mervyn V. Quarles. Members include Frank W. Campbell, Walter W. Chadbourne, Louis S. Crosby, Robert J. Duncan, A. K. Grimmer, C. G. (Bill) Kemp, S. S. Weatherbie, and John S. Bain. Contributors include Fred Jarrett and Winthrop Boggs. Come February 1950, the Group has published its third newsletter, nine pages long.
BNA Topics, Vol. 6, No. 10, Dec. 1949, p. 228
BNA Topics, Vol. 7, No. 2, Feb. 1950, p. 41

Other study groups quickly follow: the Small Queens Study Group (1950) chaired by Armand Gelinas, the Canadian Plate Block Study Group (1950) chaired by Major K. Hamilton White, and the Canadian Variety Study Group (1951) also chaired by Major K. Hamilton White.
BNA Topics, Vol. 7, No. 6, June 1950, p. 135
BNA Topics, Vol. 7, No. 7, July-Aug. 1950, p. 161
BNA Topics, Vol. 8, No. 1, Jan. 1951, p. 18


In December, BNAPS publishes its first handbook, the The Squared Circle Postmarks of Canada by Dr. Alfred Whitehead. The book has 48 pages, and sells for $1.50 postpaid.
BNA Topics, Vol. 11, No. 9, Oct. 1954, p. 286


BNAPS publishes a second handbook,Canadian Stamps with Perforated Initials by the BNAPS Perfin Study Group. It has 32 pages, and sells for $1.00 postpaid. The handbook is based on a four-part article of the same name published in the January to April issues of BNA Topics.
BNA Topics, Vol. 12, No. 9, Oct. 1955, pp. 286-287, 299

BNAPS is incorporated largely through the efforts of Clifford R. Schuman.
BNA Topics, Vol. 12, No. 10, Nov. 1955, p. 333


The Order of the Beaver (OTB), the Fellowship of BNAPS, is established. It honours members who have provided distinguished service to BNAPS and to organized philately in general, have advanced philatelic knowledge through exhibiting and/or writing, and have regularly participated in the annual BNAPEX conventions. The first inductees are Fred Jarrett, Jack Levine, Edward Richardson, and Clarence Westhaver.
"BNAPS Order of the Beaver", BNAPS website


The January 1971 issue of BNA Topics is the last one to include a Yearbook. Thereafter, the Yearbook is published as a standalone publication.
BNA Topics, Vol. 28, No. 1, Jan. 1971


Jack Levine, BNAPS founder and Secretary since its inception, dies on 4 October.
BNA Topics, Vol. 31, No. 10, Nov. 1974, p. 234


In June, the Board of Governors creates the membership type of Emeritus. Regular members are granted Emeritus status when they have 35 years of continuous membership and have attained the age of 75. The Secretary ascertains that seven members qualify as Emeritus.
BNA Topics, Vol. 36, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1979, p. 19


In October, mainly through the efforts of Robert H. Pratt, BNAPS is re-incorporated as a non-profit organization, the British North America Philatelic Society Ltd., in the State of Wisconsin.
BNA Topics, Vol. 45, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1988, pp. 35-36
Policy & Procedures Manual, July 2014, pp. 7-10 (pdf document pagination)


At its meeting at BNAPEX 1988 Virginia Beach, VA, the Board of Directors establishes new guidelines for Emeritus Membership, a membership category introduced in 1978. Emeritus members are now appointed by virtue of having 40 years continuous membership rather than the original criteria, which was 35 years plus 75 years of age. For the next 5 years, both sets of criteria apply.
BNA Topics, Vol. 46, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1989, p. 36


At its meeting at BNAPEX in St. Charles, IL, the Board of Directors approves the new BNAPS Policy & Procedures Manual, which includes a re-write of the Society's bylaws. Ed Harris, past President of BNAPS, produces the Manual in collaboration with Chris McGregor, Secretary.
BNA Topics, Vol. 49, No. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1992, p. 43

The Board of Directors also changes the appointed office of Study Groups Coordinator to the elected office of the Vice President Study Groups, thus adding a member to the Board. Jon Johnson, the Study Groups Coordinator at the time, becomes the first VP Study Groups.
BNA Topics, Vol. 49, No. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1992, p. 43


In a mail ballot, the Board of Directors votes to dispose of the Library. There are three reasons for the decision:

  • Library use by the membership is very low
  • Expenses would be incurred to maintain proper library standards
  • The newly introduced Canadian Goods and Services Tax (GST) is posing problems

Parts of the Library holdings are donated to the American Philatelic Research Library and the Canadian Postal Archives. The remainder is disposed of at auction.
BNA Topics, Vol. 50, No. 2, Mar.-Apr. 1993, p. 5
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 1, No. 2, Jan.-Mar. 1994, pp. 2, 24

In a mail ballot, the Board of Directors approves the creation of a BNAPS award to be presented to the best BNA exhibit at National Level shows throughout Canada and the U.S.
BNA Topics, Vol. 50, No. 2, Mar.-Apr. 1993, p. 5

The first issue of BNA PortraitS is published. It is dated Sept.-Dec. 1993, and Charles J. G. Verge is the editor. The newsletter is devoted to the social side of BNAPS, and covers current events. The material in BNA Topics dealing with Society news (Secretary’s report, news about Regional Groups and Study Groups, annual reports of officials, and election proceedings) is now published in BNA PortraitS. BNA Topics is devoted almost exclusively to articles and substantive letters about philatelic topics.

Each periodical is published quarterly. For Topics, this means two fewer issues per year. However, the page count jumps from 66 to 88.
BNA Topics, Vol. 50, No. 3, May-June 1993, p. 3
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 1, No. 1, Sept.-Dec. 1993, p. 1


The BNAPS website begins as a page promoting BNAPEX 1995 in Edmonton, AB, and expands to an online resource for members and non-members. Bob Lane is the Webmaster (then known as the “Internet Coordinator”), a position he holds for 15 years. The website gets over 2,000 hits between December 2005 and August 2006. Its first URL is http://www.compsmart.ab.ca/stalbert/bnaps.htm. The URL metamorphoses to www.web.ab.ca/bnaps.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 3, No. 3, Apr.-June 1996, p. 1
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 4, No. 2, Jan.-Mar 1997, p. 5
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 7, No. 2, Jan.-Mar 2000, p. 12


The first book in the BNAPS Exhibit Series, William G. Robinson’s Canadian Participation in the Anglo-Boer War, 1898 to 1902, is published. It consists of 83 pages, and sells for CA$13.00 postpaid.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 4, No. 2, Jan.-Mar. 1997, p. 15

P. Charles Livermore indexes the first 50 volumes of BNA Topics, for which he is awarded a Hall of Fame Award at BNAPEX in Fort Worth, TX. In 1998, the index, now covering 54 volumes, is published as a BNAPS book.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 4, No. 3, Apr.-June 1997, p. 3
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 6, No. 1, Oct.-Dec. 1998, p. 8


The Finance Committee is re-established to direct the investment of Society funds. The original Committee was formed in 1989, but lapsed in 1990.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 5, No. 2, Jan.-Mar. 1998, p. 9

The Order of the Beaver initiates the BNAPS Order of the Beaver Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize philatelists who have made significant contributions to BNA philately but who might not meet the criteria for induction into the OTB. The first award is given to Gerald E. Wellburn in 1998.
"BNAPS OTB Lifetime Achievement Award", BNAPS website

The first editor of BNA Topics, Harold R. Myers, dies. He also served as the interim Vice-President of BNAPS when it was founded in 1943 and as Manager of the Sales Dept. from 1945 to 1952.
BNA Topics, Vol. 10, No. 8, Sept. 1953, p. 225
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 5, No. 2, Jan.-Mar. 1998, p. 12


Bill (Wilmer) Rockett, the only member to attend all BNAPEX conventions since the first one in 1949, dies on 26 April at age 91. Rockett was active in the Canadian Revenue Society, and was instrumental in bringing it to BNAPS in 1954 as the Revenue Study Group.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 5, No. 4, July-Sept. 1998, pp. 1, 3

On 30 November, an online membership application form is posted on the BNAPS website. On the next day, the first online application is received.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 6, No. 3, Apr.-June 1999, p. 1


BNAPS contracts with Saskatoon Stamp Centre to manage the BNAPS Book Dept. The agreement covers the production, distribution, and sale of BNAPS books at the wholesale and retail levels. Previously, these activities were handled by BNAPS volunteers.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 6, No. 3, Apr.-June 1999, pp. 1, 3

An area of the BNAPS website, "BNAPS Stamp Collecting for Kids", is created for young collectors.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 6, No. 3, Apr.-June 1999, p. 1, 5


The BNAPS website gets its own domain name, bnaps.org. P. Charles Livermore obtains it.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 7, No. 3, Apr.-June 2000, p. 12
"Webmaster Report - BNAPEX 2010", BNAPS website


Saskatoon Stamp Centre sells its stock of philatelic literature to Auxano Philatelic Services of Calgary. BNAPS awards Auxano the contract for the sale of its books. Norman E. Wagner is President of the new firm.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 10, No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2003, p. 6
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 10, No. 2, Apr.-June 2003, pp. 5-6

Horace Harrison, then President of BNAPS, dies on 4 October. In his will, Horace bequeaths approximately US$170,000 to BNAPS. He also leaves donations to the APS and APRL.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 10, No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2003, pp. 1, 9
BNA Topics, Vol. 59, No. 3, July-Sept. 2002, p. 3

P. Charles Livermore creates the initial version of the Archives area of the BNAPS website.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 10, No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2003, pp. 6, 9


On 1 January, St. Joseph Print Group of Ottawa is given the contract to print BNA Topics following its acquisition of Publishing Plus, the firm that printed Topics in 2002-2003. St. Joseph is also awarded the contract to print BNA PortraitS and the mailing of both publications.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 11, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 2004, pp. 10-11

Andy Ellwood and Bob Lane collaborate to scan the Exchange Circuit pages and post them on the BNAPS website. The initiative is called BECONS, the BNAPS Exchange Circuit On-line System. By April, there are more than 200 pages posted.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 11, No. 2, Apr.-June 2004, pp. 3-4, 7

Following the demise of Auxano Philatelic Services, the Books Department assumes responsibility for publishing BNAPS books, and awards the contract for the sale of the books to Ian Kimmerly Stamps of Ottawa.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 11, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 2004, p. 1

In October, all but the most recent five years of BNA Topics are scanned, converted to pdf, and put online at the website www.bnatopics.org where they are freely accessible to all. Subsequently, the index to Topics compiled by P. Charles Livermore and published as a BNAPS book in 1996 is converted to an online search tool. P. Charles Livermore and John Walsh are the project's prime movers.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 12, No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2005, pp. 1, 9
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 12, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 2005, p. 19


One can find colour on a cover of BNA Topics as far back as the May 1954 issue; however, the Jan.-Mar. 2005 issue is the first with a full-colour cover. Beginning with the next issue, there is colour throughout the journal.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 12, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 2005, p. 4
BNA Topics, Vol. 62, No. 2, Apr.-June 2005


Many study groups agree to have their newsletters posted online except for the most recent five years. P. Charles Livermore starts uploading the newsletters of those study groups to the www.bnatopics.org website.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 15, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 2008, p. 2

The Board of Directors votes to terminate the offering of Life Memberships.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 16, No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2009, p. 5, 6

The Board of Directors votes to have PayPal offered as a vehicle for dues payment on the BNAPS website.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 16, No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2009, pp. 5, 6


To cut operating costs, the Board of Directors ends publication of BNA PortraitS at its meeting at BNAPEX in Kingston, ON. The last issue is Vol. 16, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 2009, whole no. 65. Of the material published in BNA PortraitS, the BNAPS Officers' Reports will appear on the website, and much of the rest will be published in Topics.
BNA PortraitS, Vol. 16, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 2009, pp. 1-2, 10


At the Board of Directors meeting at BNAPEX in North Bay, the category of Family memberships is abolished.
Policy & Procedures Manual, July 2014, Section 240 - Standing Resolutions, Membership, 1 Sept. 2011 North Bay.


R. Robin Harris of Adminware Corp. creates an online membership database and completely redesigns the BNAPS website. The new database and website go online on 1 October.
What's New in BNAPS 2013, BNAPS website

R. Robin Harris redesigns the Topics online search engine. It is hosted on the www.bnaps.org website and integrates P. Charles Livermore’s indexes to BNA Topics, Maple Leaves, the journal of the Canadian Philatelic Society of Great Britain, and the PHSC Journal, published by the Postal History Society of Canada.
The Horace W. Harrison Online Library, BNAPS website


Ian Kimmerly Stamps relinquishes the sale and distribution of BNAPS books when Ian Kimmerly moves to Victoria, BC. Sparks Auctions of Ottawa becomes the new distributor as of 1 October.
BNAPS Books, BNAPS website


The Board of Directors adopts the BNAPS Privacy Policy at the BOD meeting at BNAPEX 2015 Niagara Falls.
BNAPS Board of Directors 2015 Meeting 10 September 2015, Niagara Falls, ON
BNAPS Privacy Policy, BNAPS website

In 2004, all issues of BNA Topics, except the most recent five years, were posted on the website. All issues are freely accessible to all website visitors. In 2015, Robert Lemire, Chair of the BNAPS Publications Committee, negotiates an agreement with Philaprint Inc., the publisher and copyright holder of BNA Topics, to post the most recent five years of the journal on the website with access restricted to BNAPS members. The issues go online in August.
BNA Topics, Vol. 72, No 4, Oct.–Dec. 2015


Hugo Deshaye creates and manages the BNAPS Facebook page. He is named to the newly created role of Social Media Manager.

The Board of Directors establishes the Lola Caron Award for the best exhibit of Québec postal history at a BNAPEX convention. It is presented for the first time at BNAPEX 2018 Quebec to Grégoire Teyssier for the exhibit The Ship Mail of Quebec City, 1763-1914.
Lola Caron Award, BNAPS website


For the 2018 BNAPS election, members have, for the first time, the option of voting online.

In June, BNAPS publishes the 100th volume in its Exhibit Series. The book is Foreign Exchange Control in Canada The Role of Canada Post 1939-1951 by Eldon Godfrey. The first book in the Series was published in 1996.


BNAPEX 2020, which was to be held in Halifax on 4-6 September, is cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Directors meeting and the Annual General Meeting are held virtually via Zoom.


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, BNAPEX 2021 Winnipeg is replaced by a five-day virtual convention, BNAPEX 2021 Virtual, from 2 to 6 September. 41 exhibits are entered in a virtual exhibition, and 18 study groups hold virtual seminars via Zoom. Attendees can view over 40 video recordings of study and regional group meetings held in the months leading up the convention. Attendance is free, but registration is required.
BNAPEX 2021 Virtual, BNAPS website


The 2022 BNAPS election is conducted electronically for the most part. Members whose email address is known are not sent paper ballots, and are invited to vote online. Members whose email address is not known are sent paper ballots. This significantly reduces the cost and labour required to conduct the election.

The BNAPS Board of Directors passes a resolution to discontinue the Exchange Circuit as of 1 October. The reasons include:

  • Low sales volume
  • Low member participation
  • Insurance costs greater than the net return to the Society
  • The expansion of alternate online purchase/sales sites

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This page was last modified on 2023-04-09

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