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.
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!
October 4, 2014