20th April 2022

Aly Boltman

Erasing Erasure: The Intersection of History and Social Justice at Potter’s Field

Join local history enthusiast Aly Boltman to hear about an unlikely, three-year journey that began with a dead-of-winter, candle-lit cemetery tour and ended with an award-winning, community-supported social justice project that unearthed the histories and dignity of more than 1,000 citizens all but forgotten in Owen Sound’s Greenwood Cemetery.

Aly has been living in Grey County for the past 19 years where she has served a number of professional roles in the arts and philanthropy sectors. Her writing has been featured in the Globe & Mail, Owen Sound Sun Times, The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, the Ontario Museum Association and other publications. Ms. Boltman was recently the recipient of the YMCA’s Peace Medallion for her work leading the Potter’s Field Memorial Steering Committee, resulting in the new Potter’s Field Memorial at Greenwood Cemetery in Owen Sound, Ontario.

18th May 2022

Franco Mariotti

The ‘Giant’ Whales of the Gulf of St. Lawrence


A closeup perspective of the magnificent and largest creatures on this planet. Discover the secret lives of Humpback, Fin, and the biggest of them all, the Blue Whale. Meet the researcher, Franco Mariotti, of Whitefish, Ontario, who has devoted his life to studying them and learn how these magnificent animals are “fairing” in today’s waters. Mariotti, a biologist, naturalist, and science communicator, joined Science North at its inception in 1981. During his 33 years at the site, he developed content for exhibits, public programs, staff training, and also helped develop major “natural history themed” travelling exhibits that travelled all over North America. To date, he has delivered over a thousand presentations. The recipient of numerous awards, Franco is also a world traveller and, most recently since retirement, has been a “Polar Guide and Naturalist” on small expedition cruise ships travelling in the Arctic and in the Antarctic.

15th June 2022

John Boyko

The Devil’s Trick: How Canada Fought the Vietnam War


It is Barry’s distinct pleasure to introduce John Boyko, a much-admired author, educator, historian, and director of summer programs at Lakefield College. Boyko may be familiar to TVO viewers as a result of guest appearances on “The Agenda,” hosted by Steve Paiken. Possibly by now you have read at least one of his many highly praised books. The Globe and Mail has labelled this brilliant nationally-known writer “a distinguished scholar of Canadian political history.”

More than a skillful writer, the much-lauded historian has a wide range of interests. Among our Barry’s personal collection of books, he notes Boyko’s always engrossing approach to vastly different subjects, citing as examples his biography on Sir John A. Macdonald and his national bestseller Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation. A marvellous communicator, John Boyko’s very inclusive presentation will introduce us to Canada’s little-known role in the Vietnam War. Through the stories of six fascinating Canadians, he explores the many ways in which Canada was involved in and changed by that tragic period in our history.

20th July 2022

Janie Cooper-Wilson

How Do You Want Your Ancestors to be Remembered?


Janie Cooper-Wilson of Wasaga Beach was inducted as one of Canada’s 100 Accomplished Black Women in 2018. Her life-long passion for researching and documenting Black history is a crucial part of the collective history of Ontario. A director on the Ontario Historical Society Board, she serves as OHS field representative for Simcoe County and researcher/co-chair of the OHS Cemetery Preservation & Defence Committee. Did you know there are approximately 1,500 known inactive, unapproved, and unregistered burial grounds located across Ontario — all with little protection for their future?

William Morris Site

Janie discusses her work over the last two years to investigate, research, and defend three Underground Railroad Burial Grounds in Haldimand County, south of Cayuga, Ontario. One is the resting place of a niece of Harriet Tubman. One is located on private land where many tombstones have been removed. Another has already been ploughed under. All three sites fall within the same official category yet all three pose uniquely different issues. She will share some little-known facts involved in the Cemetery Act and the complex challenges being encountered as she works to preserve the sites and the crucial archival information about the Black pioneers contained within them.

17th August 2022

Douglas Gibson

Great Scots: Celebrating Canadian Storytellers with Links to Scotland, 1867 to Today


Born in Scotland in 1943, Doug Gibson came to Canada in 1967. He spent his career as an editor and publisher, becoming what the Globe and Mail called “a publishing icon.” The fiction authors he edited over the years include such literary icons as Hugh MacLennan, Morley Callaghan, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, and more. Since retirement from McClelland & Stewart in 2008, he has become an author and fabled storyteller. His lively new presentation involves dozens of excellent Anthony Jenkins caricatures featuring the 16 selected fiction writers. Doug talks about the authors against the backdrop of their historic backgrounds. For each, the show will include a burst of music from the time period, along with examples of iconic works of art being produced. Versions of this tribute to Canadian artists in general have already played at the University of Guelph, in Montreal and Quebec City. Enthusiastic Maritime audiences attended this show in Saint John, Charlottetown, Antigonish, and Halifax. The tour continues…

21st September 2022

Peter Meyler

The Turbulent Life of John ‘Daddy’ Hall


Peter Meyler loves discovering our untold histories. His research has led to two books, many articles, and numerous presentations. The co-author of A Stolen Life: Searching for Richard Pierpoint and editor of Broken Shackles: Old Man Henson from Slavery to Freedom, Peter has uncovered historic information on a number of remarkable Black Canadians, including John “Daddy” Hall, Sophia Burthen, Lemuel Brown, and Larry Gains. Today’s presentation features John Daddy Hall of Owen Sound. It is said Daddy Hall had 21 children and six wives over his 118-year life.

But this isn’t the most remarkable things about him. Discover this African-Ojibwa warrior, Tecumseh scout, Kentucky slave, Black militiaman, and Grey County resident. Daddy Hall is a man who fought in the War of 1812 was captured and taken into slavery — a man who escaped, came back home, and struggled to make a place for himself in Canadian society.

19th October 2022

Barbara Rusch

Two Queens, Two Reigns: A Singular Purpose


Fittingly, in the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the renowned collector of Victoriana, Barbara Rusch, will join us in a tribute to two record-setting monarchs. Over a span of some 40 years she has become widely-known for her dedication to the preservation of historically important objects. Today, Barbara is a recognized Sherlock Holmes and Houdini expert, as well as having assembled the largest collection of Queen Victoria artifacts in Canada. A recent Toronto Star feature article quoted her as saying: “That’s what I consider my mission in life: to resurrect those voices, to tell their stories.” In some ways, the reigns of Queen Elizabeth II and that of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria have run along parallel lines. Both ascended to the throne at a tender age and lived to celebrate significant milestones, enjoying happy marriages to their cousins. What few know is that both survived assassination attempts and home invasions within the palace walls. Barbara will reveal these and other little-known facts about these popular and long-lived royal women. Don’t miss this master storyteller whose reputation as a lively enthusiastic presenter has few equals.

16th November 2022

Barbara Dickson

Bomb Girls: Trading Aprons for Ammo


Barbara Dickson is a professionally-trained public speaker, local historian, and award-winning author in both fiction and non-fiction. During the Second World War, over 21,000 patriotic citizens, predominately women, courageously worked with high explosives. Barbara provides an account of women working in high-security, dangerous conditions making bombs in Toronto during the Second World War. For over a four-year period they filled munitions for the Allied Forces at a top-secret facility located in Scarborough, Ontario.

Some 170 buildings comprised the site along with over four kilometres of secretive tunnels, which remain as mysterious today as they did years ago. What was it like to work in a munitions factory during the Second World War? Barbara’s comprehensive presentation focuses not only on the breadth of the war-time endeavour but also on the amazing women who worked there. This little-known military story about Canada’s bomb girls—the girls behind the guns—will appeal to every Canadian who honours those who fought for their freedom both overseas and here at home.