We talk about the Internet as a world-shrinking device. We can communicate with almost anyone in the world in real time, thanks to the network. That's one of the reasons I'm stuck on stamp collecting - letters and the postal service were the world-shrinkers of the 19th and 20th century. The postal service allowed communications in days and weeks rather than months and years.
Today I got a reminder that stamp collecting and other hobbies can shrink the world in a different way.
I moved to Vancouver Island from Saskatchewan just over four years ago. While I've been staying connected to my old stamp club in Regina (where I've been a member for over 25 years), I haven't really done anything with my new local club until today.
The Victoria stamp club holds meetings on Friday evenings which are difficult for me to get to (date night with my beloved, you know 💖) but on they have a 'Muffin Meetup' on Wednesday mornings at a local community centre. Since I'm not working on a fixed schedule at the moment, I hoped on the bus and set out to this morning's meetup.
There were nearly two dozen people there, which was more than they usually get, including a new collector who was super eager to learn what everyone was into, a fellow who with a binder full of Disney themed banana labels (stunning!), a collector of Japan, someone handing off a Rubbermaid tub full of material to another collector and lots of folks just there for a coffee and a chat. Two folks beside me even started talking about the club website and how to improve it, which caught my attention.
The new collector asked an elderly gentleman what he collected and he hemmed and hawed and eventually said he collected Saskatchewan town cancels (postmarks from tiny, often long closed post offices from around Saskatchewan.)
All that piqued my interest, so I introduced myself and asked where he was from. Oh, south of Moose Jaw, says he. Really, whereabouts? A little village called Ormiston.
Ormiston, Saskatchewan is less than a hamlet. Maybe 100 people lived there in the 1920s but less than 25 when I was a kid. These days, it might be a single house, if that. But it's almost guaranteed that I'm related to whoever lives in that house.
My grandmother grew up on a farm outside Ormiston, in a hamlet called Wheatstone, which I only knew as a dirt mound beside the train tracks between Ormiston and Kayville. My grandfather grew up on a different farm south of Ormiston. My great-uncle ran the general store in Ormiston (it had a single lane bowling alley in back, and if they had a post office, it would have been in the store too.) My other grandparents lived in Crane Valley, the next village over.
I mean, what are the odds?
His family isn't Ukranian farmers; they were there for the sulphate mine that used to operate near Oro Lake. But we had a great little visit and I showed him some pictures from when I was out that way this summer.
All in all, an eventful meeting. I'm going to try to go next week, although I likely should be finding a day job. Maybe in January. I still need to meet a few of the club members. 🙂
PS - Here are some pictures of the Ormiston / Crane Valley / Kayville, Saskatchewan area from my visit home in June 2023. The emptiness of the place and the huge skies filled my heart that day.
Many of the roads there are in poor shape; I didn't risk the road to Ormiston due to recent rains making the dirt roads likely impassable. I had to stick to the maintained gravel roads instead.