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.

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.  Their support is greatly appreciated.

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.

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

Lecture Format and Location

Typically, lectures are 2 hours in length, including a short break and a Q & A portion.  They are held in the Auditorium of the Royal Botanical Gardens on a Wednesday morning.  Learn more about the Royal Botanical Gardens location.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering our lectures online on Wednesday mornings at 10 o’clock via Zoom Webinar.  This technology allows for audience members’ Questions to be easily posed to the lecturer.

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

HTAL understands that some may disagree with a speaker’s point of view.  We ask that speakers and fellow members in the audience always be treated respectfully.  Disparaging, disrespectful comments or outbursts 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, while managing our affairs responsibly to keep expenses to a minimum and costs to members affordable.  From time to time, we have been able to financially encourage organizations working to enrich the lives of seniors in our community, such as the McMaster Live Lab research project on hearing improvement for seniors.

2020 picture HTAL Members

Community Input and Engagement

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.

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.

If you are interested in a volunteer role with HTAL, please send us a note using our Contact Us page, including your name, email address and phone number along with your particular interests and experience.


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.

Board of Directors


Richard Sexton - President and Chair of the Board

Richard Sexton

Judith McCulloch - Vice-President

Judith McCulloch

Gillian Anchel - Secretary

Gillian Anchel

Kathy Watts - Treasurer

Kathy Watts

Sharron Johnston - Development

Sharron Johnston

Graham Knight - Videography

Graham Knight

Mona Levenstein - Program

Mona Levenstein

Tony Petric - Marketing and Communications

Tony Petric

Linda Spooner - Registration and Hospitality

Linda Spooner


  • Richard Sexton: Chair
  • Judith McCulloch: Vice-Chair
  • Gillian Anchel: Secretary
  • Kathy Watts: Treasurer

Committee Chairs / Responsibilities:

  • Sharron Johnston: Development (New Initiatives)
  • Graham Knight: Videography
  • Mona Levenstein: Program
  • Tony Petric: Marketing / Communications
  • Richard Sexton: Executive and Nominating
  • Linda Spooner: Registration / Hospitality
  • 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