Nov 28

What is B?

What is B?

There cannot be too many places in the world where a stamp collector can attend four club meetings within six days.  In Victoria two clubs meet weekly and two meet monthly and six days apart.  We didn’t plan it especially, but we are centrally located with the furthest club meeting less than three kilometers from home.

Thursday night at the Vancouver Island Philatelic Society, in addition to an auction, there was an interesting slide show on the RAF Ferry Command. Starting in 1940 Canadian bush pilots and other civilians were recruited to fly (or ‘ferry’) warplanes from North America to Britain, and later to many other parts of the globe.  The postal history generated from Ferry Command is challenging and fascinating.

Of more general interest was the vignette account of crossing the border with warplanes between neutral USA and Canada at war.  The crossing between Maine and New Brunswick was effected by temporarily blocking the highway, having the warplane land on the highway, towing it across the border, then taking off on the highway.  The only other crossing was at Pembina south of Winnipeg. Here, after the plane landed, the soft soil foiled the trucks, then the farm tractors.  Finally it was up to the horses to pull the warplanes across the border.

Norway 3skThe Muffin Break is a pleasant social event every Tuesday morning.  Attendance usually exceeds the turnout at the monthly Club meetings.  Part of the success might be explained by never having had a Chairman, President, membership, program, Agenda, dues, bank account or any of the other detrita of our modern, organized lives.

Before the November Friday night at the Greater Victoria Philatelic Society, the website announced Remembrance Day and The Letter A.  I went with visions of Sesame Street but was very pleasantly impressed with the concept of The Letter A. Approximately ten of the members brought in Exhibits ranging from one to eight pages dealing with either the theme or the letter A. Some, like the Australia pages, dealt with both in a topical showing.  More interesting in some ways is that each Exhibitor came forward to explain and add details to his or her Exhibit.  Some were inventive, such as a postal history page well written up which showed an Airmail envelope, carried by the US Army postal service, mailed from Anchorage, Alaska — so A to the power of four.  A few days later at the Muffin Break someone commented on how boring Bulgarian stamps were.  The light flashed and I have just the items to disprove the comment next month.

At home, the mountain (well, small hill) of cartons of stamps is slowly becoming organized.  One conversation led to a want list of early Norway.  In the next few days I need to organize my early issues, paying particular attention to trying to identify the four types of the 1863 Arms type.  Eventually the results will be on the internet.

Nov 13



I will always cherish my philatelic experiences in Ottawa, yet the welcome and camaraderie extended by stamp collectors in Victoria has been overwhelming. Talking with collectors is always pleasant.

And I am not ignoring the buying part of the equation:Eastern Auctions Lot 472, Oct. 2014

  • only two items at the Vancouver Island Philatelic Society Club Auction;
  • viewing and bidding on the Weeda Bidboard Auction (less successfully then I had expected as there were many strong prices realized);
  • our first Express Post delivery in Victoria contained a box with hundreds of items needing attention including a block from the Jack Wallace collection of British Columbia.

The last few weeks have also meant visits with my cousin, three of my brothers, and especially my mother who, during her final decline, is cheerful and rallies especially with a visitor.

Our trusted car remains in Bow Island. The last needed part arrived today, 31 days after it was ordered. Inevitable snow and icy conditions while driving two days through the mountains is a daunting and frightening task ahead. Our furniture, expected on a Friday, arrived the following Wednesday and we are mostly settled. Pictures are not hung because we will be painting a number of rooms and many dozens of cartons await the arrival of bookcases we have ordered.

Setting up my Office, well, my Stamp Den (actually a room with rows and stacks of boxes crowding out most of the useable space!) has played second fiddle to answering emails and quiet reading. In terms of re-establishing a thriving stamp business, progress has been slight, and my attention has been drifting elsewhere….

Then learning there was a table available at the bi-monthly Victoria Stamp and Postcard Fair this Sunday became the needed catalyst. There are a few days left to prepare quality stamps to offer those attending the bourse. Many collectors are unaware of the amount of time needed to grade then properly describe and price stamps or covers. It means that I’m back to work at last!


Oct 21

Crossing Canada until…

The ferry across Ontario’s Georgian Bay, from the tip of the Bruce Peninsula to Manitoulin Island, in a high wind with enormous swells. The mackerel pattern of clouds dominating the deep blue of a big prairie sky. Dozens of similar images and experiences will be memories of our drive across Canada.

We undertook the drive to experience Canada—the distance, scenery, and people—one kilometre at a time, and we were not disappointed. The delicious home-baked fruit pie in Northern Ontario, which can also be found in a hamlet in Saskatchewan, and in a small town nestled in the mountains. These temples to fresh whole fresh food are identifiable by the herd of pick-up trucks surrounding them.

On Canadian Thanksgiving we were on Alberta Route 3 heading west from Medicine Hat, when an eastbound sugar beet truck left us an unwelcome memento. In a micro-second we saw a large rock headed for the windshield. To our relief, it dropped just enough to smash through the grill.

The Rock

An unwelcome memento

Our car was going at quite high speed sandwiched between two other vehicles, and there was no shoulder to pull over. In any event the Honda Fit absorbed the rock without a shudder or any apparent discomfort. I wondered if it was not a rock but a clump of earth which had broken up on contact. As a result we continued on, passed the car ahead of us and proceeded with no apparent ill effect until a red light indicated an overheated engine.

So we pulled over and in the middle of many hectares of farmland with no cell phone signal and on a statutory holiday, we were stranded.

If I wanted to be negative I could tell you about subsequent dealings with the insurance company. Instead we were lucky to be only about four kilometers from the town of Bow Island and a succession of wonderful good Samaritans: John a farmer (immigrant from Holland) who towed us and refused any payment, Michael the lodge keeper (immigrant from Korea) who advised which unit was unlocked in his closed lodge.

Early the next morning the help and advice continued. Lynn of Bow Island Auto Service was highly recommended and, based only on a conversation and a handshake, we left our car with him. Upon inspection, he discovered that the rock had taken out the A/C condenser and lodged deep into the radiator, causing collateral damage behind. By early afternoon we were on our way in a rented vehicle, with the offending rock for a souvenir. There are some who would turn that 24 hour period into a very long chapter!

Visiting a sister, our daughter, mother, and a brother slowed down our pace and we are now in Victoria for a few days to arrange closing and other details of our new house before the expected arrival of our furniture on Friday.

The unpacking and organizing of the new stamp business awaits us.

-Ian Kimmerly,
October 21, 2014

Oct 04

Our Stamp Store Is Closed

I was attending the Washington 2006 International Stamp Exhibition when we received notice that we were to be expropriated from 112 Sparks Street to clear the building for planned renovations. After several months of active looking, the choice came down to a slightly smaller store with a similar rent on Bank Street or the large and potentially grand building at 62 Sparks with a huge rent.

Custom built as the Ottawa headquarters of the Imperial Bank of Canada, the building had been vacant for over a decade. But with over 6000 square feet, marble floors, ornate plaster, and a ceiling over 30 feet high, one could imagine that with restoration it would be a showcase for philately. I arranged a meeting to discuss the possibility of leasing the building.

My opening remarks were that I would love to lease the building and see it restored but that I had no money for restorations and couldn’t afford the rent. After an amiable discussion the elements were put together in less than an hour. The narrative of eight wonderful years can await, but a memory of the last week is fresh. And my sore muscles tell me to rest and lift only my fingers to the keyboard.

September 30th -- Almost all packed

The Store on September 30th — Almost all packed

The last day we were open was Saturday the 27th. The previous week we had moved all of British North America Philatelic Society Book Department, most of Sparks Auctions fixtures etc., and most of my reference library to their new location of Suite 202, 1550 Carling Ave. During the week we continued to empty the store, including several cubic yards of old auction catalogues. Customers kept us busy all of August and September (thank you, thank you, thank you) leaving what I thought was enough time to clean out the store during the last three days of September.

During those three days, six of us — plus a collector with a strong back and large truck — moved much of the fixtures, and packed most of the contents of the store. About 100 cartons was delivered to Sparks, and over 150 cartons were picked up for moving to Victoria. The landlord was apprised we would still be packing Wednesday but hoped to finish that day. Thursday the last of the philatelic contents were delivered to the movers; and Friday the last of the fixtures.

Elizabeth and I look forward to a fairly leisurely drive across Canada and to the next chapter of our lives in ice-free Victoria. And I will have over 150 cartons to organize, sort and price.

You will be hearing from me!

-Ian Kimmerly,
October 4, 2014

Sep 29

Beyond Sparks Street

In 1984, Ian Kimmerly opened his stamp store at 90 Sparks Street in Ottawa. With the exception of two years on Catherine Street near the Ottawa Bus Terminal, Ian has always remained on Sparks. But now that the store at 62 Sparks Street has closed, and Ian moves on to a new life in Victoria, BC, he nevertheless remains an active stamp dealer. This site is where you can continue to find the most up-to-date news about his activities and ventures.

IKSCoverFor the first week of October, Ian will complete the task of packing up material that is to be shipped west, and attending to a few other business details in town. The week of October 6th, Ian & Elizabeth will begin a leisurely drive across Canada to their new home.

Once established in Victoria, Ian expects to be a regular at stamp shows and clubs in the west, and to continue to purchase and sell material. This website will continue to host an internet store, and selected material will be sold on eBay and other internet avenues.

Ian continues as President of Sparks Auctions, which has moved to new premises at 1550 Carling Avenue, Suite 202, Ottawa. He expects to return to Ottawa for future auctions, and of course for ORAPEX in May.

With the luxury of time now that he no longer has the day-to-day distractions of running a retail store, Ian is looking forward to making regular posts to this blog as he did when it began in 2006. He will start off with some updates from the road as he and Elizabeth make their journey west.

Happy Stamping!
-Ian Kimmerly Stamps

PS: Local Ottawa stamp collectors will not have to wait long to find a new place to meet, add to their collections, purchase supplies, and continue to pursue their philatelic interests. Friend and colleague Chris Green’s new shop on Second Avenue at Bank Street will be opening on October 1st. See his website for more details. We wish Chris the best of luck!


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