Our Beginnings

In June 2011 a small group of people interested in lifelong learning set out on a path to create a new organization designed to bring learning and enrichment opportunities to adults aged 50+ living in Hamilton, ON and its surrounding communities.

Modelled on similar programs in Europe, Australia and North America, and assisted by nearby similar organizations in Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Burlington, Hamilton Third Age Learning (HTAL) was registered as a not-for-profit corporation in Ontario in 2012.

By the Spring of 2013,  were ready to launch our first series of six lectures.  Since then, lectures have been offered each Spring and Fall, with a Winter film documentary series being added in 2018 and Winter lectures via Zoom in 2020 and 2021.

Volunteer Driven

HTAL is an organization of volunteers, numbering some 30-40 individuals serving on the Board and various Committees.

Early Support

The successful development of our program has been greatly assisted by the support of many local institutions including McMaster University, Mohawk College and the Council on Aging.  We have also been well served by Simpson Wigle Law, First Ontario Credit Union and Legacy Designs.  HTAL sincerely appreciates all the time, effort and participation of these community supporters.

Connected to Other Similar Associations

HTAL is a member of the Third Age Learning Network (TAN) of Ontario, an association of other such groups across the Province that operate self-managed, nonprofit learning programs in their communities.  TAN and its members provide invaluable support and assistance to new and established groups.

Our Program

Understanding the 21st Century

From the beginning, our lecture theme has been “Understanding the 21st Century”, a broad canvas for subjects of particular interest and importance to our registrants.  Topics include contemporary issues, history, politics, science, technology, health, national and international issues, economics, the environment, arts and culture, etc. Lectures are provided by university professors, notable authors and journalists, leaders and experts in their fields.  We strive to provide a varied program in each series. Our Winter Series theme has been “Beat the Winter Blahs” and to date has been focussed on arts, culture and general interest topics.

Disclaimer: While program topics are approved by the Program Committee and Board, the actual content of any lecture and opinions offered by lecturers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of HTAL.

Lecture Format and Location

For the Fall and Spring, we are planning a return to in person lectures as we adapt to the changing nature of the pandemic. The Winter Series will remain in webinar format via Zoom.

Lectures are 2 hours in length, including a short break and a Q & A. In person lectures are held in the Auditorium of the Royal Botanical Gardens on a Wednesdays at 10 AM.  Learn more about the Royal Botanical Gardens location that has ample free parking, a lovely  gift shop and a delightful Garden Café should you wish to enjoy a lunch with friends after the lecture – reservations are required.

If COVID restrictions are reinstated in the Fall, we will offer our lectures online on Wednesday at 10 AM via Zoom. This technology allows for audience participation using the Question feature. Ample notice will be provided to subscribers.

Our Beliefs and Principles

Target Audience

While our learning and enrichment activities are geared to individuals of 50 years and older in Hamilton and surrounding communities, participation is open to all adults.

Speaker Selection

We seek speakers who are experts in their field based on robust credentials, strong presentation skills, and engaging presentation style and ability to communicate materials well to a lay audience.  We vet speakers to the greatest extent possible using a wide variety of methods.

We endeavor to seek out speakers who can provide balanced, evidence-based lectures, where applicable, but understand that most speakers have their own opinions and viewpoints.

Audience Participation Policy

While HTAL understands that some participants may disagree with a speaker’s point of view, we expect that speakers and fellow members in the audience will always be treated respectfully.  Disparaging, disrespectful comments or outbursts are inappropriate and will not be tolerated.


HTAL is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, operating under Provincial not-for-profit legislation, with by-laws and policies developed and reviewed from time to time to adapt to new operating conditions.

The Board has adopted a Code of Conduct that applies to all volunteers associated with HTAL, reflecting the principles of the Ontario Human Rights Code and including policies on Discrimination and Harassment.

We are an independent organization and do not support any particular political, commercial or self-serving activities.


We are a financially self-sustaining organization that relies on lecture fees for revenue. We manage our business affairs responsibly to keep expenses to a minimum and costs to members affordable. From time to time, we have been able to financially support organizations working to enrich the lives of seniors in our community; (e.g. the McMaster Live Lab research project on hearing improvement for seniors).

2020 picture HTAL Members

Community Input and Engagement

Lecture Q&A

Each lecture is followed by a Q&A session so that subscribers and attendees have the opportunity to pose their burning questions about the topic, to seek clarification on specific points of interest or to gain new perspectives.

Recommending Speakers

We welcome and seek community input and feedback on lecture topics, speakers, areas of interest and formats for learning and enrichment.  If you know of speakers, experts in their field, with robust credentials and an engaging presentation style, please send your suggestions. Use our Contact Us page with your recommendation. Please include your name, email address and phone number.

Post-Series Evaluations

HTAL seeks the input of subscribers after every series through an online survey. The information is valuable in helping HTAL plan and develop future series and improve or enhance operational considerations.

New to HTAL

If you have never attended one of our lecture series, would you like to receive an email when a new series is announced? Let us know using our Contact Us page, providing your name and email address and we’ll send you notices of the next lecture series for you to plan for registration.

Community Engagement

We regularly seek community input and feedback on topics, areas of interest and formats for learning and enrichment.  We also include an interactive component (Q&A) in each lecture.


We welcome volunteer participation in a variety of capacities according to the needs of our organization.


  • Sheree Meredith: Chair
  • Bob Savage: Vice-Chair
  • Gillian Anchel: Secretary
  • Kathy Watts: Treasurer

Committee Chairs / Responsibilities:

  • Brenda Zwolak – Program Chair – Spring & Fall
  • Elly Bowen – Co Chair – Winter Series
  • Wendy Neuman – Marketing & Member Engagement
  • Brenda Zwolak – Registration & Web Management
  • Bob Savage – Event Production & Venue Management
  • Kathy Watts – Finance

Honorary Members

  • Carolyn Milne: Visionary Leader and Incorporating Director, 2012
  • Rosemary Knechtel: Board Chair, 2012-2020
  • Les King: Board and Committee Member, Website Manager, 2012-2020
  • Leila Ryan: Steering Committee Member and Incorporating Director, 2012
  • Carolyn Rosenthal: Board Vice-Chair and Chair of Registration / Hospitality, 2012-2020
  • Vincenza Travale: Steering Committee Chair, 2011-2012
  • Mona Levenstein – Incorporating Director and Program Chair, 2012- 2021
  • Sharron Johnston – Incorporating Director and Development, Winter Series Chair, 2012-2021