For those not familiar with the birth of OPS – a birth no doubt similar to most clubs conceived by like minds – I am grateful to Gib Stephens, deceased,who continually nurtured new and old members to better understand the philatelic world and provided the background notes for the following synopsis of OPS’s history.
On March 3, 1949, 4 stamp collectors gathered at the Woodstock Y.M.C.A. to form what was initially called the Woodstock Stamp Club. Within the year it was renamed the Oxford Philatelic Society, to pacify members attending from the county. The first president was Tony Keller.
Meetings were held twice a month in the homes of members until 1951 when membership surged to 20. Libraries, Y’s, church basements, in both Woodstock and Ingersoll were used as meeting rooms, as long as the rent was free, or a donation was acceptable. Arrangements were the most favourable when the contact person was a sympathetic stamp collector.
By 1968, OPS had 21 members, four of them becoming stamp dealers – John Kitchen, Ron Cuthbert, John Gruszka, and Norm Goodger before retiring.
Meeting places continued to change including school cafeterias, the third story stockroom of the Woodstock Post Office, and the Knight’s of Columbus Hall, as meetings settled in Woodstock.
In 2007, with a membership of 60 plus, we upgraded our meeting place to a Pool Hall with a spittoon. Before you wonder about our depravity – our meeting room housed two covered pool tables, good for spreading out material, in the South Gate Senior Centre and the spittoon was a thematic touch by our auctioneer and ticket seller who had winning tickets drawn from his thoroughly cleansed brass bowl.
The first OPEX Stamp Exhibition was held May of 1951, in the home of Mrs.Wolsteholm in Ingersoll. The show consisted of 12 picture frames of various sizes, each displaying a separate exhibit. Since that time OPS’s Annual Stamp Exhibition has had a variety of venues. In 1981, OPS hosted the first all Ontario Topical Show. And now OTEX is a part of every OXPEX show.
Since 1994 John Knox Christian School on Juliana Drive in Woodstock (now Woodstock Christian School) has been the home to OXPEX/OTEX every March, with approximately 140 competitive frames per show. Every show from 1966 to 2012 featured an exhibition cover, commemorating a notable resident or special event of Oxford County, both past and present.
Our members continue to live by our unofficial motto: “Visitors are always welcome. Come visit and be a stranger only once!” So come by for visit. Better yet, join!