About the Canadian Military Mail Study Group


The Canadian Military Mail Study Group (CMMSG) was established at the British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS) Convention in Calgary, Alberta, in 1973. Some of the founding members were: Ed Richardson, Clarence A. Stillions, Sid Bedwell, Ed Harris, Joe Purcell, Ken Ellison, and J. Colin Campbell. A total of 14 BNAPS members signed up.

The Study Group's objectives are to enable collectors with military postal history interests to meet other collectors, share research, ask questions, and provide answers regarding their specialty. This is done through the Study Group newsletter, BNA Topics, member correspondence, and in person at meetings during the annual conventions of the Society and other Society meetings such as those of the BNAPS Regional Groups. Topics of interest to the Study Group range from the earliest Canadian military campaigns to present day peace-keeping missions.

CMMSG Newsletter

The first newsletter was published in October 1973 and No. 50 was published in November 1982, all under the editorship of J. Colin Campbell. A great number of subjects were covered during this period, and many of them were enhanced by member surveys of areas such as the Field Post Offices of the Great War and Military Post Offices of the Second World War. A great deal of useful and important information was obtained in this way.

After Colin Campbell's retirement, Ken V. Ellison became Editor in 1983 and published 53 newsletters at the rate of five per year. He published an article-oriented newsletter dealing with specific subjects. Henk Burgers became Editor in 1992 with issue No. 104 and continued to 1994 with No. 116-117. Former editors Colin Campbell and Ken Ellison assumed responsibility for Nos. 118 and 119. The current Editor, Dean Mario, began with No. 120 in October 1995. Membership increased steadily over the years, and was over 80 in 1998.

All the newsletters are available online except for the most recent five years which are restricted to Study Group members.

Military Mail Publications

In the field of publishing, the Study Group participated in a special project to commemorate the first 100 newsletters by publishing a 232-page Canadian Military Postal History Anthology at the September 1991 BNAPEX Convention in Vancouver.

Study Group Chairman and Treasurer Lt. Col. William J. Bailey wrote and published a booklet entitled Canadian Military Postmarks in 1978. He and Major E. R. “Ritch” Toop authored Volume I of Canadian Military Posts (Colonial Period to 1919). Volume II, Canadian Military Posts (Between the Wars and World War Two 1920-1946) was published in 1985. The final volume in the series, Volume III, Canadian Military Posts (Operations in NATO, United Nations, and Canada, 1947-1989), was published in 1990. In addition, a small handbook and checklist entitled Canadian Military Post Offices to 1986 was published in 1987. This was followed by a second edition in 1994 with updates and additional data to 1993. An all-inclusive volume entitled Canadian Military Postal Markings 1881-1995, was released in 1997. Several of these books have received national and international philatelic literature awards.

In 2006, BNAPS published The BNAPS Catalogue of Canadian Military Mail Markings: Volume 3 — From Victory in 1945 to Afghanistan, by C. Douglas Sayles. This was followed in 2011 by The BNAPS Catalogue of Canadian Military Mail Markings: Volume 2 — The World War 2 Era 1936-1945, also by Douglas Sayles who died in 2012. The first two of a three volume update, these new catalogues contain more than 1100 new cancellations not recorded by Bailey and Toop. The BNAPS Catalogue of Canadian Military Mail Markings: Volume 1, covering Canadian military postal markings from the early 1800s to 1936, is currently being prepared by Wayne Schnarr. Publication of Volume 1 is expected in 2017.

The BNAPS Publications Committee publishes the “Exhibit Series” of books that reproduces major exhibits of BNAPS members. The first book in the series was Canadian Participation in the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902 by Col. William G. Robinson. BNAPS has published other books about military postal history including several in the Exhibit Series. To view the list, go to BNAPS Books. In the search area, select “Military” in the Subject drop-down list.

The many authors of military postal history from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, including Ed Richardson, Col. R. H. Webb, Harry E. Guertin, and Major Ian C. Morgan, laid the groundwork upon which the CMMSG was started. Many CMMSG members have promoted research, writing, and exhibiting at the national and international level.

Military Postal History Awards

The following awards recognize contributions to Canadian military mail postal history:

  • The Canadian Military Mail Study Group Award
  • The BNAPS E. R. (Ritch) Toop Memorial Award
  • The PHSC Toop Military Postal History Award

The Canadian Military Mail Study Group Award is presented for the best military exhibit shown at a BNAPEX convention. All competitive military exhibits are eligible to win the award. In 1994, the Sam Nickle Award for Military Mail was established in honour of the late Sam Nickle. The award was funded by his wife, Rosemary Nickle. In 2017, the CMMSG assumed responsibility for funding the award, and renamed it the Canadian Military Mail Study Group Award.

List of award winners

In 1998, BNAPS instituted the E. R. (Ritch) Toop Memorial Award to honour the late E. R. “Ritch” Toop in recognition of his contributions to Canadian military postal history. The award is presented to a BNAPS member for any book, monograph, article, or series of articles representing significant and substantial research on Canadian or BNA military mail or military postal history. The work may be published in a BNAPS journal or any other publication.

List of award winners

The Postal History Society of Canada has also instituted an award to honour the late E. R. “Ritch” Toop, the Toop Military Postal History Award. It is for the best military postal history exhibit at the PHSC Symposium and at national-level exhibitions.

Invitation to Join

Any member of BNAPS is eligible to join the CMMSG. Everyone who collects and studies Canadian military mail is most welcome to join this active study group! Please contact the Chairman of the CMMSG listed on the BNAPS Study Groups page.

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This page was last modified on 2022-01-14