Spring Lectures 2020

April 15th to May 20th
10 am to noon

The Auditorium, The Royal Botanical Gardens
680 Plains Rd W
Click on Location Map

Understanding the 21st Century

How do we begin to understand the 21st century? Our world is a very complex and confusing place where change is happening at an ever faster pace. The speakers will cover a range of topics providing insights into this century’s problems and possibilities.

April 15th

Jennifer Heisz

When it comes to brain health, a certain amount of our fate is determined by biological factors. For example, with dementia, age is a risk factor and certain genes increase your risk. However, our lifestyle also plays a critical role. Which means that there is opportunity for us to train for a healthier brain! Physical activity is a critical lifestyle factor that improves memory and reduces the risk of dementia. My talk will describe our latest research that examines how exercise changes the brain to support cognition.



Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz is an Associate Professor in Kinesiology and Associate Director (Seniors) of the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence at McMaster University. Dr. Heisz received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience (McMaster) and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest. Dr. Heisz directs the NeuroFit Lab (www.neurofitlab.com) which is funded by the Alzheimer Society, Banting Foundation, Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.  Dr. Heisz’s research examines the effects of physical activity on brain function to promote mental health and cognition in young adults, older adults and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.  Recent honours include receiving an Early Researcher Award from the Government of Ontario and the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award. Follow Dr. Heisz on twitter @jenniferheisz.

April 22nd

Ted Barris

In nearly every theatre of war during the 19th and 20th centuries, military strategists found women and men prepared to disregard their own well-being in order to save the lives of others on the battlefield. Not only have these extraordinary deeds preserved life in momentous battles, but they have often pioneered tools and techniques that survive in both wartime and peacetime medicine today. This presentation explores some of those medics under fire and their legacy.

Ted Barris is an award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster. For more than 40 years, his writing has regularly appeared in the national press, as well as in magazines as diverse as Air Force, esprit de corps and Zoomer. He has also worked as host/contributor for most CBC Radio network programs and on TV Ontario. And after 18 years teaching, he has just retired as a full-time professor of journalism at Toronto’s Centennial College.
The author of 19 bestselling, non-fiction books, including a series on wartime Canada, his writing has also been published in such anthologies as The Canadian Encyclopedia, Total Hockey: The Official NHL Encyclopedia, A History of Maple Leaf Gardens, and a volume of learned papers presented to the Canada-Korea Conference at the U of Toronto. His book, The Great Escape: A Canadian Story, won the 2014 Libris Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award (shared with astronaut Chris Hadfield), and his  Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid against Nazi Germany (2018)– about the famous 1943 attack on the Ruhr River dams that powered Nazi Germany’s industrial war production- was featured by The Globe and Mail on its bestsellers list for eight straight weeks and named as one of the Best 10 Non-Fiction War Books of 2018.  In 2011, he was  presented with the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Commendation, and the following year the Air Force Association of Canada selected him to receive Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

April 29th

Dianne Saxe

This talk will review the science of the climate crisis, how it is already affecting us and what we know about the emergencies ahead. It will summarize what the federal and provincial governments are doing, and what each of us can do to reduce our own climate pollution, get ready for what is coming, and speak up for collective action.


Dr. Dianne Saxe is president of Saxe Facts, a business providing strategic advice and presentations on climate, energy and environment.
From 2015 to 2019, Dr. Saxe was the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), an office that has since been abolished. She was appointed unanimously by all MPPs to report to the Legislature on Ontario’s environmental, energy and climate performance, and to be the guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR). During her term, she improved the effectiveness of the Environmental Bill of Rights, increased public understanding of the urgency of climate change, and issued highly praised reports on a wide range of environmental, energy and climate topics.
Prior to her appointment, Dr. Saxe was one of Canada’s most respected environmental lawyers, with 40 years of unparalleled experience writing, interpreting, and litigating Ontario’s energy and environmental laws. Her career began with the Ontario Public Service and two major Bay Street law firms. She then established one of Canada’s top environmental law firms.
A Certified Environmental Law Specialist, Commissioner Saxe was recognized by all major legal rating services, including acknowledgement as one of the world’s top 25 environmental lawyers by Best of the Best, 2008, and as Best Lawyers’ first Environmental Lawyer of the Year for Toronto. Her numerous honours include the Award for Distinguished Service, the highest honour granted by the Ontario Bar Association; and the Gold Key Award for exceptional lifetime professional achievement, granted by Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni. She is an Honorary member of For Our Grandchildren. For 2019-2020 she holds a McMurtry Clinical Fellowship, Osgoode Hall Law School and Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University.
Dr. Saxe has travelled extensively in Ontario and Canada, both in her professional practice and as a keen canoeist, kayaker and cross-country skier.


May 6th

Joe Berridge


The world is rapidly urbanising, nowhere more so than in the Toronto/Hamilton region, the fastest growing urban region in North America. What are the keys to the successful city? This lecture will take us from Shanghai to Singapore, New York to London, Manchester to Belfast to explore what makes the ‘perfect city’.



Joe Berridge is an urban planner and city builder who has had an integral role in the development of complex urban planning and regeneration projects in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Asia. As a partner at Urban Strategies Inc. over the past thirty years, Joe has been a strategic advisor for the development of the city centres of Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff and for the waterfronts of Toronto, Singapore, Sydney, Cork, London and Governors Island in New York City. He has prepared campus master plans for the University of Manchester and Waterloo, Queen’s and Western in Canada and is now planning the new hub for Toronto Pearson International Airport. Joe teaches at the University of Toronto in the Department of Geography and Planning. Joe’s first book Perfect City’ was published by Sutherland House in April 2019.

May 13th

Astrid Hepner

A talk about the rationale behind AIFEC, a unique and ambitious grass roots initiative committed to creating music opportunities for children and youth in Hamilton’s neighborhoods with the greatest need and fewest resources. What methods were deployed to achieve greater equity in access to instrumental music education and what successes and obstacles has the program achieved and encountered since its inception in 2009? 



A professional saxophonist and educator from Cologne, Germany, Astrid Hepner founded the Hamilton Music Collective in 2008 shortly after moving to Hamilton from New York City. The Collective is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing high quality, free music instruction to children living in Hamilton’s Code Red areas, while at the same time providing unique music experiences for all Hamiltonians.
Over the past ten years Astrid has championed arts education through her creation and development of the An Instrument For Every Child (AIFEC) program, a ground-breaking music education initiative, which provides elementary school children in Hamilton’s economically challenged and newcomer communities with the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. Under her leadership the program has grown to twelve inner city schools and two community centres, impacting over 5400 children and youth who have received regular free musical instruction.
A trained musician, Astrid has performed with Latin music legends Tito Puente and Celia Cruz and regularly performed at the NYC downtown club Knitting Factory with her band Astrid Hepner & Funkmeister. As a record executive she worked with world-class artists including Norah Jones, Sir Simon Rattle, Anita Baker, Keith Jarrett, Wynton Marsalis and Al Green at major record companies in NYC (Blue Note Records, BMG Classics, ECM Records). She developed and taught the Music Business program at Mohawk College and strongly believes in the importance of making music education available to all children at a young age.
Astrid Hepner studied Musicology at the University of Cologne and earned her Master’s degree in Performing Arts from The Folkwang School in Essen, Germany. She also holds a diploma in Cultural Management. Astrid is the recipient of the 2013 YWCA Hamilton Women of Distinction Award, the 2014 City of Hamilton Arts Administration Award, and the 2018 Arts Innovation Award.


May 20th

Gary Draper

Although Alice Munro was part of the great creative surge in Canadian writing that began in the 1960s, she has continued to write with increasing care and craft in the twenty-first century: of the 14 original short story collections she has published, five have appeared since 2000.  In 2013 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. This talk will consider some of Munro’s twenty-first-century stories, looking at the ways in which her work has changed, and the ways it has remained true to its original strengths.



Gary Draper did his doctoral work at The University of Western Ontario in the field of nineteenth-century Canadian literature, on the writings and legends of William “Tiger” Dunlop.  He has been a book reviewer for a variety of publications, an editor of poetry (for Brick Books) and of short fiction (for The New Quarterly).  He has been a librarian at the University of Waterloo and at St. Jerome’s University, and, until his retirement a decade ago, an Associate Professor of English at St. Jerome’s University.  Since then he has been avidly lecturing on his favourite subjects—poetry, short stories, fantasy fiction, Canadian Literature—at Third Age Learning centres in Collingwood, Owen Sound, Thornbury, Guelph, and Cambridge.  He is a gardener, a cyclist, and a collector of Canadian cookbooks.  He has been a fervent admirer of Alice Munro’s work since she began publishing.

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