Past events – Virtual events

Fashion Show & Luncheon, February 28, 2024 (Ginny Cowan)

EACTN’s first fashion show event took place at the Donalda Club on Wednesday, February 28, 2024. Forty-two members and six guests sat down to a lovely lunch that included stuffed strip bauletti pasta (ricotta, spinach, figs, prosciutto, sundried tomato and Shiitake cream sauce), and a French lemon tart, meringue kisses and berries for dessert.

This was followed by a fashion show highlighting spring/summer/cruise apparel modelled by our very own members. Marika Vag, owner of Lady Sophisticate on Avenue Road, described the outfits in detail, providing some helpful tips to consider when looking for that something special. One third of the attendees were male members with a few stepping in to escort our models to the ‘runway’ during the finale.

Virtual offer expands with Chat Group Pilots Q4 2023 – (John Della Mora)

We continued to broaden the virtual offer by running two successful pilot Chat sessions. These were organized by a non-exec member facilitating a free form Zoom discussion for a group of 5-15 participants. Selma Sahin facilitated the Nov. pilot inviting peers and some of the more elderly among us who are the most isolated.  It started with a “Travel Stories” theme and moved easily through topics that included favourite destinations and technology applications while traveling. Donald Wong facilitated the Dec. pilot inviting the ESC Downstream Engineering peer group. It started with a catch-up session and evolved into a free-flowing dialogue with participants sharing their new interests in retirement and enjoying the opportunity to dialogue with peers (some had not seen each other in 11 years).

In summary, the learnings from the two Chat pilot sessions were:

  • Simple free flowing discussion with a manageable group of 5-15 helps everyone contribute with lively dialogue (the Zoom medium can be less inviting if group size gets too large, our simple code of conduct also worked well).
  • Chat duration of 1.5 hours on a Tues. or Wed. at either 9 am or 7 pm start time was suggested for these groups (new groups can set optimal date/time/duration).
  • Effective way to reach out to members who desire this social interaction but may find it a challenge to socialize in person (geography, health, mobility, etc.)
  • Informal approach worked (like meeting at a pub night or coffee shop) and participants looking forward to next chat

The Chat pilots are the third act in our virtual offering with a focus on providing opportunities for fellowship and socializing that help keep members actively engaged as well as attract new members to the fold. We plan to explore the Chat format further in the new year with an official website registration and encourage members to sign up and make suggestions as input to our offer development.

Wailin’ with Gaylen Singalong – 1955-’59 Hit Parade (Jim Strasser)

Twenty-eight of thirty-seven registered members and guests (76%) attended this new to EACTN virtual event produced and presented by our own Gaylen Racine on Wednesday January 31 at 7:30 PM. Gay MC’d the words and music to a keen singalong audience; transporting us back to a far simpler time, the second half of the 1950’s. The singalong triggering memories and music previously thought lost in time.  A great time was had by all – we thank Gay for this trip down memory lane and we look forward to further “Wailin’ with Gaylen” productions!

World War II: Battlefields, Memorials and Museums January 10, 2024 (Jim Strasser)

Forty-nine members (of 63 registered, 78%) attended Ken Rowland’s extremely well researched and informative presentation,  which covered Ken Rowland’s and Nancy Devlin’s 12-year exploration of historic World War II Battlefields, Memorials and Museums.

Ken and Nancy have travelled extensively to explore these sites across the globe. Born from a keen interest in WWII history, underpinned by family involvement in the war, Ken walked us through their journey of discovery. The discussion covered both the European and Pacific Theatres of war as well as a number of noteworthy North American sites.

Ken shared their findings, recommended some of the better locations to visit in both Theatres of War along with sites in North America. The presentation also mentioned locations that are quite famous but not particularly worth the effort to travel to as well as recommend some books that are terrific reads. Heartfelt thanks to Ken for sharing this fantastic chronicle!

GTA Public Transportation Outlook, November 8, 2023 (Wayne Kerr)

On November 8, 2023, forty-six members joined Peter Miasek, President Transport Action Ontario and fellow IOL annuitant, as he presented his overview of the GTA public transportation status and outlook.

In his thoroughly researched and fact-filled presentation, Peter covered the major projects underway including GO Rail expansion, Eglinton Crosstown, the Ontario line, as well as other projects. He elaborated on the complexity and challenges of planning, funding, government interaction and project execution. He explained the construction alternatives of deep tunnelling versus cut-and-cover and their associated cost difference. He touched on the need for public service expertise and the development of Progressive P3 public/private/partnerships contracting.
While the delays associated with the Eglinton Crosstown and the current state of the King Street streetcar route are certainly bad news, Peter told us of successes including doubling of Go rail track, credit card fare pay, cell phone use on the subway, and York region’s on-request service.
He also provided a look ahead on fare integration, autonomous shuttles and the Via Rail’s High Frequency Rail.
This session clearly stimulated participants interest as the Q&A and discussion was wide ranging and sustained. Peter was engaged in questions on bicycle lanes, the St Clair Streetcar right of way, subway versus LRT, the use of off-shore turn key contractors, and many others. To all comments and questions Peter was thoughtful and thorough.
Thanks to all for attending. And thanks, most of all, to Peter Miasek.

“The Scream”, October 19, 2023 (Ann Doyle)

Who knew that bird poop, candle wax and cardboard were part of the composition of Edvard Munch’s iconic painting “The Scream”? On October 19/23, thirty-five members joined Barbara Isherwood, art historian, to discover the history behind this painting. Barbara’s presentation explored the painter’s life – one filled with “consumption and insanity” – traits he said he inherited and which deeply influenced his art. Many of his family died young of TB or mental illness; he too had TB. He took up drawing to
pass the time as he missed so much school due to illness.
We learned how the human condition was his primary subject matter based on his personal experiences – he painted memories of these experiences. “The Scream” was part of a series called “The Frieze of Life”. The series illustrated a narrative or context for the painting. Ahead of his time, Munch made philosophical statements about the cycles of life and emotions in his paintings versus creating pieces to sell or please one’s patron; his art process was considered radical.
Barbara discussed the screaming figure in the painting and what it represents…you had to be there for the explanation and how bird poop, candle wax and cardboard fitted in.
As promised, there was no academic language or opaque artspeak in this very informative session. Thanks to all for attending.

St. Jacobs Drayton Schoolhouse Theatre  “Bittergirl – The Musical” October 12, 2023 (Rick Hotz)

52 members and guests signed up to travel by bus or drove themselves to St. Jacobs to enjoy a pleasant fall day with their EACTN colleagues. Congratulations to the left side of the bus, and in particular Bernard Assouad who “pulled one out of the fire” by providing the correct answer to the final question, during our on bus  “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” trivia quiz and thereby leading his team to victory.

There was some shopping time at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market. People stocked up on some fresh fruits and vegetables from neighbouring Mennonite fields. The three course lunch was at Jacob’s Grill. There was some time to browse through the shops in St. Jacobs after which people just had to cross the street to the Drayton Schoolhouse Theatre to see “Bittergirl – The Musical”.  A laughter filled musical about three women and the men who dumped them, that charts the evolution of love gone wrong, from romantic bliss to total breakup, devastation and the journey back to happiness.

Spring Dinner and AGM – June 7, 2023 (Ann Doyle)

It was a windy but warm 21C on June 7, 2023 for our 36 th annual Spring Dinner and AGM at Chateau Le Parc in Vaughan. One hundred and sixty-eight members and guests sampled hors d’oeuvres during the reception in the Courtyard (luckily most of the Courtyard was protected from the wind). We started the event earlier this year at 4pm. in response to comments about travelling in rush hour traffic and in the dark to get home. This change seems to have been well received by those attending. A 3-course dinner with choice of beef, salmon, vegan and a delicious dessert followed the reception.

Our President, Marc Gagnon, led the AGM focusing on the Club’s many virtual and in-
person events and the important role of our volunteers who organize these activities. Marc also recognized the many contributions made by six executive members who stepped down this year. One of his observations was that the Club can only be successful if it’s tailored to the needs of its members. Building on our solid foundation of in-person activities, the Club’s executive has added a new focus on the future. Jim Strasser, our incoming President (July 1/23) spoke about the Club’s strategic challenges: our average age is increasing …our numbers are shrinking…we’re becoming less mobile…and we risk becoming more isolated. So, while continuing our traditional in-person activity, the Club is working to establish a parallel virtual offer to augment our social interaction to enrich both happiness and the health of our community as we age into the future. Members were asked to vote on the review presented of the Club’s affairs and the direction proposed for the Club. There were no dissenters based on a show of hands.

The event was a wonderful time to renew old friendships, socialize with colleagues and
catch-up on the past year’s activities. Photos of the event were posted on EACTN’s
Facebook site – a great initiative. Copies of both Marc and Jim’s remarks are available and will be highlighted in the Q3 newsletter. Overall, an evening full of memories and great friendships. Hope to see more members at our 2024 event on June 5, 2024.

17th Century Trade Tokens – May 3, 2023 (John Della Mora)

Stephen Hyde is a Calgary based annuitant and he introduced EACTN to numismatics with his talk on “17th Century Trade Tokens”. He provided a fascinating historical perspective on the use of tokens and coins for trade and commerce. Stephen is a member of the Calgary Numismatic Society where he has made a number of presentations. The illustrations included many interesting examples of British trade tokens from his collection.
The presentation was very well received by the 16 attendees (of 20 registered). Stephen offered to share a Part II presentation on Canadian pre-confederation tokens for our next zoom season in 2024.

Staying Healthy with Yoga – April 5, 2023 (J. Strasser)

Fellow member and yoga instructor, Zia Hasan presented a simple road map to improved health with yoga. He shared his journey to better health and how yoga aided him in this journey. In 2015, Zia joined a yoga academy and learned the principles and practices of Yoga. He now follows and instructs in them routinely.  Through yoga, Zia has gained physical flexibility, improved strength, relieved pain and has been able to stay healthy and active. In this presentation he discussed the background and various forms of yoga. The presentation also included an informative video display of the yoga techniques used by Zia.

The presentation was very well received by the 40 attendees (of 49 registered). Below is a link to the demonstration Zia video used to show the techniques he spoke of in the presentation.

Traveling the SIlk Road – From St-Petersburg to Shanghai – March 9, 2023 (B. Assouad)

Thirty five participants (out of 57 registrations) listened attentively to Jim Hughes’ presentation about his 10-week train trip starting in Russia’s St Petersburg and ending in China’s Shanghai. The trip went through Moscow, Volgograd, the Central Asian republics (the “Stans”), northern China, Xian, Beijing and southern China. Jim’s presentation was illustrated with beautiful photos and his talk was peppered with interesting facts and anecdotes. Jim also answered many questions from the audience. The presentation went overtime, a testament to the material covered and the demonstrated interest.

Advance Care Plan – Jan. 18, 2023 (Ginny Cowan)

Thirty-four households joined this Zoom presentation as Karen Blair and Denyse Burns, both passionate volunteers with the Toronto Chapter of Dying with Dignity, reviewed with us the importance of having an Advance Care Plan in place should we ever be in a situation where we can no longer speak for ourselves relative to our health care needs and wishes, on either a short or long term basis. They reviewed considerations to keep in mind when selecting a substitute decision maker and creating an Advance Care Plan. It was also pointed out that as circumstances and/or family situations change, so may one’s Advance Care Plan. It is recommended that one review this plan every couple of years to determine if it is still current. Karen handled the overall review of the subject with Denyse responding to participants’ questions afterwards. Detailed resource material was forwarded to participants following the presentation.

Sailing The Spice Islands – Sep. 21, 2022 (Jim Strasser)

Paul and Jane Kent (of ERAC) guided a group of 34 EACTN members and 17 ERAC members though a very informative trip through Indonesia’s Spice Islands. The presentation included the turbulent history of the region and its pivotal role in the trade of Nutmeg, Mace and Cloves. An outstanding travelogue overlaid on a fascinating and complex history of the region.

Common Weeds as Food and Medicine – Aug. 31, 2022 (Ann Doyle)

20 EACTN members/associates joined Karen Stephenson, a wild food educator, herbalist, author and certified naturalist on Wed Aug 31/22 at 10am to hear about foraging food for health. Karen reviewed why foraging is, in her opinion, beneficial for all of us: it’s exercise, free food, a stress reliever, allows us to connect with nature. She also covered factors that, over time, have affected the produce we consume (declining soil fertility, selective breeding, fertilizer and pesticide usage) and the impact on the quality of the food we consume (loss of nutrients – minerals, vitamins, proteins). The basic guidelines of foraging were touched on (legality, sustainability, safety) as were useful documentaries such as “Food Matters”. Karen outlined some common “weeds” and how to prepare them for consumption or for their other health and healing benefits as salves, etc: dandelions/roots, Creeping Charlie, chickweed, golden rod, red clover, Japanese knotweed, broadleaf plantain. Her website has recipes and photographs to illustrate how “weeds” or wild foods can be used to get nutrients into our everyday diets. Who knew that pine needles make excellent pine rum balls or that broadleaf plantain can relieve stings in 5 seconds? Karen cautioned to use trusted sources and to always use the Latin names when researching plants.

Muskoka Boat Cruise – Aug. 17, 2022 (Kathy Cartin)

30 members enjoyed the Muskoka Lake cruise on August 17. Everything went just as planned, and the weather was perfect. At the Muskoka pier, some members chose to shop at the Famer’s market nearby and some members chose to go the Discovery Centre which is a museum with antique boats. Very impressive. The Frosty Pint Pub served our pre-ordered meals in less than 15 minutes. Quite an achievement. The narrator on the ship was very knowledgeable and provided an interesting and informative commentary as we sailed for 2 hours along Lake Muskoka. A wonderful day was had by all.

Opera Outing to MET Lucia di Lammermoor – July 9, 2022 (Bozena Fiutowska)

This was our first in-person Opera Outing event to a rebroadcast of MET in HD opera by Donizetti – Lucia di Lammermoor. It’s one of his most beloved operas, one that’s performed most often in most Opera Houses around the World. Only 13 attended this event, although if one EACTN member and her two friends, who we met at the venue, registered with us, there would be 16 officially attending. One couple who registered for the event cancelled out the day before.

Overall the event was a total success:

  • The venue is very pleasant. The same theater #8 will be offered for Opera broadcasts next season so we’ll have a sense of familiarity.
  • Cineplex proved to be very accommodating and generous on group discount with fewer than 20 (just this one time).
  • Participants were pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed this new experience.
  • Newcomers discovered the VIP treatment available only for MET in HD viewers.

Opera 201 with Iain Scott – June 22, 2022 (Bozena Fiutowska)

20 EACTN households joined the Zoom session on June 22, 2022 to hear Iain Scott take us on a journey back in time through Mozart’s Footsteps in Salzburg, Vienna, Paris and Prague.  This was our second enchanting Zoom session with Iain Scott. Iain is considered one of the supreme guru’s in Canada on Opera. His deep knowledge really comes through in his presentations followed by an interesting Q&A session. He keeps his audience captivated. And he exhibits a great sense of humor throughout the presentation. In his slide presentation Iain used still photography and some videos. His story on Mozart was woven with selected scenes from the phenomenal 1987 movie on Mozart by Milos Forman  – AMADEUS. His presentation ended with an emotional tribute to Mozart by visiting his common grave site. At the end we were all spell bound by the richness of Mozart’s Music and Opera creations as well as by Iain’s masterful storytelling.

Both ends of the world with Jim Hughes – May 19, 2022 (org. B. Assouad)

26 members of the EACTN, together with about 13 members of the Calgary Club (EARC) listened in to Jim Hughes presentation of two of his voyages to both ends of the world, starting with Antarctica and then the NorthWest passage. Jim’s talk was illustrated with beautiful photographs of landscapes and animals.

The Kitchen with John OTA – April 6, 2022 (Kathy Cartin)

On April 6, 2022, 34 EACTN members enjoyed a zoom presentation by John Ota called the Kitchen. John is an architect and an author who wrote a best-selling book about his journey through history in search of the perfect kitchen design.  Starting in the kitchens of the Pilgrims in the 1600’s, John illustrated the evolution of the kitchen and the utensils used to the present, from a fire on a floor, the kitchen as a back room addition to the home, underground with stone floors and a brick fired coal oven, and the evolution to modern day kitchen design and stainless steel appliances. The kitchen has evolved to be a social place; and the appliances are the efficiency. John also touched on the evolving role of design and mechanics to ease aging in place with units that move up and down and are wheelchair/walker amenable. The session was high energy and fascinating.

Peruse Peru with ERAC’s Richard Sawka – March 23, 2022 ( Rick Hotz)

29 EACTN households along with 11 from ERAC joined the Zoom session on March 23rd to hear ERAC’s Richard Sawka share his travelogue – Peruse Peru, More Than Machu Picchu.

Richard spent several weeks touring Peru. While most are familiar with Peru’s famous Machu Picchu, Richard shared much more.  He reviewed Peru’s history including the period pre-dating the Inca empire. His travels covered the arid coast to Paracas and the famous Nazca Lines drawn in the side of mountains which can be seen from the air. He shared the beauty of Arequipa. He toured us through Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire. Off he then went through Ollantaytambo, the site of an old Inca fortress on to Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. His pictures of Machu Picchu were breathtaking. From there we went to Lake Titicaca, at 12,500 ft often called the highest navigable lake in the world. His trip finished off with a short final stop in Lima.

Richard’s travelogue led to a topical discussion of shared experiences covering altitude sickness, guinea pigs as a dining delicacy, and the challenges of hiking Machu Picchu.

Astronomy: Exploring the Most Bizarre and Extreme Happenings in the Universe – Feb. 23, 2022 (Bernard Assouad)

Tom Vassos, a passionate astronomer and excellent presenter, took the 43 participants through a breathtaking tour of the universe, and showed them its marvels, its bizarreness and its magnificence: planets in our solar system, black holes, neutron stars, nebulas, etc. His talk was illustrated with outstanding images from the Hubble space telescope (and others), and was peppered with quotations from famous scientists. A lengthy Q&A session followed, demonstrating the high level of curiosity and interest of the participants.

“Tour of Toronto Islands” with Marta O’Brien – Feb. 9, 2022 (Ann Doyle)

On February 9, 2022, 55 EACTN members enjoyed a photo tour of the Toronto Islands led by Marta O’Brien, architectural historian with nearly 30 years of experience.  Marta reviewed the geography and history of the three islands and the many landmarks explaining their location and facts about the lifestyles of the inhabitants and how these changed over the years. The amusement park, the baseball stadium where Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run and the commercial main street are long gone but the island residential community is very active and close-knit despite the limitations of island life (e.g. no car).  Marta outlined the development plans and conflicts explored over the years and how the Island Trust now works to ensure that residences (only 4% of the land mass) which become available for sale are offered to the 500+ waiting list.  The tour was an enticement to consider this destination for an outing perhaps with the Hikes and Walks Group once the weather and COVID situation improve.

Organized Crime in Canada with the Toronto Star’s Peter Edwards – January 26, 2022 (Rick Hotz)

49 EACTN households joined the Zoom session on January 26th to hear Peter Edwards share his perspectives on Organized Crime in Canada.  Peter has regularly reported in the Toronto Star for many years with a focus on Organized Crime. He is an accomplished author. 11 of his books are on this subject His book “Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War” was the basis for an original TV series “Bad Blood” featured on Netflix.

Peter shared anecdotes and his experiences as a veteran reporter of organized crime over the last many years. He contrasted the historical view of organized crime which was reflective of norms that included violence within boundaries; codes of conduct and honour; with what we are now seeing today.

Much of organized crime’s evolution mirrors that of current trends and technology’s influence on society resulting in more rapid aggressive tactics and more indiscriminate violence. Technology has made it easier for international organized crime to flourish, and fostered cartels without traditional ethnic boundaries. The ability to make money even more quickly is offset by how quickly power can be lost.  He shared his view on cartels – 12 major and 50 smaller ones. He described the situation in Mexico as it relates to the violence being reported. The drug cartels compete to supply the high demand market just north of Mexico’s border.  In his view the best way to mitigate this situation is to take actions to reduce drug demand itself.

His thought provoking remarks and observations led to a robust Q&A session at the closing.

“Name That Tune” Holiday Edition – December 22, 2021 (Ann Doyle)

On December 22, 2021 at 7pm (ET), 12 households (17 individuals) joined MTDJS for our 4th Name That Tune musical game event via ZOOM. A couple of participants wore their favourite Christmas sweater and some wore Santa hats. Appropriate, since the theme was “Holiday Cheer” and featured old and new Christmas songs presented by Glen Allen, the MTDJ host who is also an ERAC member. Each musical selection was prefaced with a well-researched introduction or teaser about the content, the singer or the TV show or movie that featured the music; Glen then played a snippet of the song and we all tried to guess either the song name, the singer or the show. Pam Allen provided a song template for us to download and write our answers on so that we didn’t miss any of the selections. It wasn’t very easy guessing – many of us were glad that we kept our own scores (and hid our humiliation!). The winners, Debbie and Bill Stowe, got 27 of the 40 selections correct and received a Certificate to acknowledge their music prowess. It was an hour of fun and amusement plus a chance to wish each other the Best of the Holiday Season despite COVID 19. This session wrapped up our EACTN virtual events for 2021.

Update from Imperial Oil by Jon Wetmore – November 3, 2021 (org. B. Assouad)

53 Zoom connections logged in to listen to the IOL VP Downstream, Jon Wetmore presentation, including a handful of participants from the Central and the Don Mills-Scarborough annuitant clubs. Jon’s presentation covered the usual information IOL shares with outside parties: safety, financials, market perspectives (current and long-term), etc. Jon also shared with the audience info about 2 key IOL projects: the bio-diesel plant at Strathcona and its participation in an industry carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project. Jon assured the audience that IOL’s strong cash generation capacity is a guarantee that its commitments to pay pensions are secure. Jon also answered a number of questions submitted by the audience. In sum it was a very interesting and enlightening presentation delivered in a straightforward and professional way.

Policing in Toronto (Rick Hotz)

26 EACTN households joined the Zoom session on October 27, 2021 to hear John Sewell share his perspectives on Policing in Toronto. You may remember John as a City
Councillor and Toronto’s Mayor during the 70s & 80s. He continues as a community activist, journalist, and writer, with a keen interest in the topic of Policing. He coordinates the Toronto Policy Accountability Coalition, and his most recent book, Crisis in Canada’s Policing was just published. John proposed that Toronto was one of Canada’s safer cities based on some metrics that he reviewed. His presentation expanded our understanding of policing with data on the nature of work done by police officers. He challenged the effectiveness of the current police oversight structure and expressed concern about the current police culture in place. He wrapped up by reviewing several suggestions to make policing in Toronto and its relationship with other community services more effective and efficient on behalf of the City’s citizens.

His thought provoking presentation lead to a robust Q&A session at the closing.

Health and Safety Risks from Leaf Blowers     (Ann Doyle)

EACTN held another ZOOM session on September 22/21 in which our members describe how their learnings and experiences from their IOL careers influenced their journeys in retirement.   Monty McDonald presented a talk on leaf blowers and the health and safety risks they expose users and the rest of us to.  He discussed carcinogenic exhaust fumes from the 30% of unburned gasoline that 2 stroke gas leaf blowers (GLBs) emit, the impact on our lungs of breathing in the fumes and how they can penetrate our bloodstream.

Another issue Monty addressed is the toxic dust these machines produce; they pulverize whatever they hit into very fine particulates that can be airborne for days and coat our houses, cars and lawn furniture.  Further this dust is so fine, like talcum powder, that it gets past the cilia in our noses and airways and lodges in our lungs.    He painted a graphic scene of workers at St. Lawrence Market cleaning overhead rafters of pigeon excrement.   Yard dust contains bacteria, mould, fungi, fertilizer as well as animal feces.   But street dust also contains carbon black from tire wear and asbestos from brake linings.  Building construction dust contains debris, silica from stone cutting, fiberglass and drywall dust.   All of these increase the suffering of whose who have lung diseases including cancer and COPD.

And then there is the noise factor; these machines often operate at 115 decibels…at 75 decibels there is a risk of hearing loss.  Toronto’s only limitations on the use of these noisy machines are “time of day” restrictions which apply to construction in general.

Monty reviewed his Bayview Village environmental committee’s efforts to get the City of Toronto to ban the use of GLBs by contractors during summer months.   In 2001, a recommendation by the Chief Medical Officer of Toronto Public Health to ban GLBs from May to September was rejected by City Council.   Again in 2021, Toronto Environment and Energy Division determined there was “not enough evidence to justify further restricting 2 stroke engines on environment or health grounds”; study will be delayed until 2022.   This despite 85 cities in California banning their use year-round and 120 other US municipalities issuing bans or restrictions.

Monty’s advice as to what each of us can do:   replace our GLBs with battery operated ones for Fall use (if required); use a broom; leave grass clippings to mulch; wear a NIOSH 95 mask if near an operating GLB; let your city councillor know you have a complaint.

Session participants appreciated the very detailed presentation and Monty’s passion to communicate just how serious a danger GLBs can pose to our health.


Arthritis and the Importance of Physical Activity – Bozena Fiutowska/Ann Doyle

On August 4/21, EACTN held a ZOOM session that was sponsored by the Arthritis Society through their Rehabilitation and Educational Programs. This presentation was made by Tara Stier, an occupational therapist with a background in kinesiology and science. Previously, Tara worked at CAMH in an addictions and chronic pain setting; she is interested in pain management from a non-pharmacological perspective.
Using Powerpoint slides to illustrate the various points, Tara focused on what arthritis is, the different types, risk factors and how we can manage our arthritis with physical activity. So many participants wanted a copy of her materials that we decided to send it to all attendees – about 50 members in total. Tara also answered members’ questions about topics such as adhesive capsulitis, Synvisc injections, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and stem cell research, chondroitin and glucosamine, Advil/other medications and
compression socks. In addition, she walked us through the website which is a major resource of information, webinars, research materials – a whole host of arthritis-related information.
There was clearly a lot of interest among our members about arthritis. Tara’s engaging presentation style, her deep knowledge and passionate approach to her subject matter made for a very worthwhile investment of members’ time in this ZOOM session.
Our thanks to Bozena Fiutowska who organized this virtual event and to Jack Bedi for facilitating the ZOOM session for us.

Bata Shoe Museum visit – June 24, 2021 (org Kathy Cartin)

There were 36 members who participated in this 90 minute tour. The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is the largest museum of its kind in the world, with shoes dating back 4,500 years.  There are about 13,000 shoes and artifacts in the museum, with about 4% on display at any given time.

Our tour started with an engaging overview of the history of footwear over 4,500 years. As we toured the various galleries, we had a look at the development of fashion shoes in the 20th century;  we saw Arctic footwear, garments and tools the Inuit women used to make boots and shoes; and we  saw and learned about European shoes in the 1800’s and how they defined social classes, and gave insight into the shoes we wear today.

From the 1920’s footwear visionaries have influenced fashion. We saw decade by decade, how shoes changed.

This was a very enlightening tour, and I’m sure many members will be anxious to tour the Museum in person when it opens.

Many thanks to Amy and Mitchell,  who were our very knowledgeable and engaging  tour guides,  and made the tour interesting.

Opera 101 – Iain Scott – June 9, 2021 – (org. Bozena Fiutowska)

The renowned lecturer Iain Scott enlightened us on Opera Basics on Wed, June 9th. After a brief and humorous introduction (his BIG Shell, our small ESSO in UK, and his small SHELL and out BIG Esso in Toronto) he asked us to pretend that, for the next hour and a half, we’re the Members of the Board for the Canadian Opera Company (COC). Iain was one of its members in the past and told us that most members know very little about Opera. Their job is to raise money, not to be Opera Experts. Nevertheless, Iain gave them this Opera 101 lecture once.

He repeated that during the Zoom session. Iain’s presentation was brutally frank about Opera struggles, and quite captivating. There was something in it for all the 55 participants in the Zoom session. It was more about numbers (for the benefit of the Board Members) than about music. These numbers grabbed our attention and were eye opening for some. I am sure all participants will remember Iain’s pie charts relating to numbers 5, 60 & 80. Yes, just 5% of people have affinity for Opera, no matter if it’s in Europe or Americas. 60% of all Operas are Italian in origin. 80% of all operas were composed between two great wars in EU in the last two centuries (Napoleonic and WWI) between 1815 & 1915. Operas are very expensive to produce. Ticket sales cover just 25% of cost. So outside financing is essential. Opera goers get great value for their money! (Something to consider for bargain hunters).

Opera is like a play in which actors have to sing the words. It differs from Musicals in that there is no amplification in the Opera house. Sound is powered by natural acoustics of the theater. Opera singers are like high performance athletes. They can perform in top form only 2-3 times per week at most. In early 1980’s COC introduced SURTITLES to the opera performances in Toronto, which opened a new level of enjoyment for those that did not know foreign language librettos by heart. The rest of the Opera World adopted that practice. In my humble opinion it added a missing dimension to this most satisfying performing arts form.

Participants provided very good feedback to the event. So stay tuned, we may hold Opera 201 in 2022.

EACTN – AGO Session 2 – Women in Art – May 28, 2021 (org. Marc Gagnon)

On May 28/21 Marc Gagnon hosted a second virtual AGO visit.  With the help of Melissa Smith, an art educator at AGO, members reviewed various pieces of the AGO collection, under the theme of Woman in Art. This interactive presentation allowed for some discussions, and useful insights in interpreting the emotional, historical and cultural context behind each piece. While the number of pieces of art reviewed during the 60 minutes presented are limited, the focus was effective in providing very good educational context behind each pieces of art. Melissa Smith did a very good job in getting the group engaged and provide a good balance of discussions for each of the pieces.

The event was “sold out” given the limited 15 maximum connections allowed by AGO under this time of arrangement. The turnout was 25 members (including spouses’ participation). One participation “connection” claims to not have received the Zoom link, which resulted in a no-show.

Based on the level of engagement and questions/comments made during the session, it appears that the event met members’ expectation.

We could consider future events expanding with the other 2 themes available for their virtual visits (i.e Indigenous & Canadian Art, and Palette to Palate).

We could also consider a much larger, class-type setting for a future event, however AGO suggests that art educator-participation interactions would not be practical, which may limit interest for some participants.

EACTN – Beatlemania – May 26, 2021 (org Murray West)

This virtual Zoom presentation by Dr. Mike Daley was a follow-up to a previous live presentation on the “Early Beatles” which was held at the Thornhill Club back in January 2019 as part of our Lunch and Learn Pre-Covid activities. Because this presentation covered the early life of the Beatles up until their 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Many attendees suggested we arrange for Dr. Daley to present Part 2 “Beatlemania” covering their extensive touring, album releases and changing musical evolution.

Dr. Mike Daley holds a Ph D. in music and is a busy freelance lecturer. He specializes in the history of popular music and has prepared several lectures with video, pictures and recorded music on the Life and Music of several artists from Elvis, Joni Mitchell, Carole King to Barbra Streisand. He recently has offered on-line courses on a series covering The Classic Albums. For those interested more information can be found on his website

64 EACTN members participated in this 90-minute session which included lively discussion and detailed questions from several Beatles enthusiasts. I look forward to having him back for a live music presentation, along with his own musical interspersions.

Family History 2.0 by Eric Bristow – May 19, 2021 (org. Ann Doyle)

For those working on their family history and family trees, on May 19/21 Eric Bristow, an ERAC member and EACTN associate member, was back hosting Family History 2.0. The ZOOM session started with a brief refresher on key concepts from his first presentation, and then provided more detailed demonstrations on how to use key tools that were touched on in the prior session.  These included the following software and websites:

  • Family Tree Maker software
  • Ancestry ( site
  • Family Search ( site
  • Wiki Tree ( site
  • Gene ( site
  • Canada Gen Web’s Cemetery Project
  • Find A Grave ( site
  • Other Information Sources

This was a combined ERAC and EACTN club event, led by EACTN.  For a very specialized topic, the turnout was excellent; 16 EACTN members participated and 9 ERAC members attended.  Eric’s presentation was sent to participants before the session so taking notes would be facilitated.

The session was packed with content and judging from the follow up questions and discussion, the exchange of ideas, how to’s and sources was very useful to those who are actively working on their family backgrounds.  Perhaps there are enough members interested to explore a more casual group get-together to foster information exchange?

Travelogue, Utah – Dwain Weckman

On April 14, 2021, 50 EACTN members and 30 of our ERAC colleagues were treated to a virtual photographic hiking tour of southern Utah by ERAC member, Dwain Weckman.  Dwain and Betty started their tour in Salt Lake City and travelled 4600 kilometers on a circular path through 5 National Parks, 3 National Monuments and a number of State Parks.  Avid photographers, hikers and campers, they shared some of their experiences from this month-long adventure.  The photography was stunning, the landscapes beautiful and the hiking challenges more than some of us would have wanted to undertake.   Our viewers followed their circuit on Dwain’s carefully researched road map.  Following the presentation, there was a Q&A session to answer questions about the trip, the planning involved and their experiences along the way.  For anyone thinking about a trip to this area of the US after COVID-19 is behind us, it was a helpful and very picturesque introduction – enjoyed by all.

Name That Tune

The third Name That Tune ZOOM session was held on March 24/21 with 17 participants vying to see who could correctly guess the correct answers to 40 musical snippets from movies and TV shows of the 1950s to the 1990s. It wasn’t easy as sometimes you had to guess the title of the movie or TV show and sometimes the performer. The winners who together correctly guessed the answers to all 40 questions were Rick and Lou-Ann Hotz. A certificate acknowledging their musical knowledge was presented by Musical Twist DJ Service who led us through the game and provided lots of history and trivia information about the music, movies and TV shows that the selections were from. A fun hour of light entertainment to help us through our grey “lockdown” period due to COVID-19.

Grand Houses of Toronto – Marta O’Brien

On Wednesday, April 28/21, EACTN had a virtual presentation by architectural historian, Marta O’Brien. Some 70 members and partners were treated to a selection of Marta’s photographs of Grand Houses of Toronto built before 1914; many are still standing although they may not be residences anymore. Marta described each house, the year built, by whom, what their occupation was, often how many children they had and who the architect was. For some, she showed the ornate interiors, the materials used in construction and decoration and the original costs. It was a challenge to imagine how a tax collector or sheriff could afford their grand mansion; on the other hand, it was easier to see how the Simpsons, Eatons, Gooderhams and others could afford their huge dwellings. Interesting tidbits included the fact that the area of Rosedale was “hard to sell” because it was a long way from the action of the “city” and one selling feature of the “suburbs” was the addition of streetcars. Streetcars meant that servants could “commute” to work and not have to have accommodation provided in the grand mansions where they worked. It was a fascinating hour-long tour of some of the grander, old residences of Toronto.

Remarkable Journeys – Episodes 1-7 – David Cox and Bernard Assouad

At the end of October, 2020, we kicked off a new Zoom-based series entitled Remarkable Journeys. This series tells the story of ten retirees who have retired from the oil industry and embarked upon something completely different. Our presenters’ paths include major hobbies, volunteer work, and even second careers.

Our first presenter was Mike Tudor who worked for Imperial and ExxonMobil for 37 years. His assignments included refinery manager and ExxonMobil Pipeline Company President. Mike now lives in Kentucky and breeds and races thoroughbred horses. What began in 2005 as minor interest in racehorse ownership through partnerships, expanded in scope after retirement. By 2017, Mike owned 3 National Hunt racehorses in the U.K. and part-owned 14 flat racehorses in Europe and the U.S. Although Mike informed us that horse-racing is a bottomless pit, especially in England, he has had a number of winners, in particular Red Lark, who won the $250,000 Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in California in August 2020.

Our second presenter was Ross Belot, another graduate from the Logistics Department.  Ross retired in 2014 after 34 years with Imperial and is now a recognized poet and documentary filmmaker. He has published two poetry collections. His documentary Growing Up Grateful was selected by the Toronto Independent Film Festival (TIFF). He has been interviewed by CBC affiliates across the country and was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2016.

Our third presenter was Deborah Gonsalves. Deborah retired in 2012, after spending most of her career in various Human Resource functions. A people person, she decided to start a second career in real estate. To get started she joined a real estate company, as an office administrator, whilst taking the online courses and exams needed to qualify as a real estate agent. She described the thrill of selling her first home and what it takes to be successful. Today she has a $13 million home on her listings. She explained how the industry has had to adapt to the Covid-19 situation and shed some light on the key factors currently impacting the real estate market.

We wrapped up the year with our fourth presenter, Cathy Lee. Cathy worked in Imperial’s IT department for almost twenty years supporting the Tandem system used by the company’s service stations. When the system was finally decommissioned in 2019, Cathy decided to venture into the physical fitness arena, but with a difference. She attained her Zumba instructor’s license and started offering workout classes combining all elements of fitness – cardio, muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility – set to music including merengue, salsa, cumbia, reggaeton. At present, she is offering these classes through Zoom.

In January 2021, our fifth presenter was Bob Paterson. Bob and his wife, Pat, live just outside Nairobi in Kenya. Bob had been one of our guest speakers in our earlier News from Abroad series. He retired in 2006 as Chairman and Managing Director of Mobil Oil Kenya. We had invited Bob back to talk about the work he does with a charity called the Mukuru Promotion Centre whose goal is to provide vocational skills, education and social welfare to children and teenagers, along with other services. For the past fourteen years Bob has devoted one day’s labour each week to the Centre getting involved in construction management, financial accounting, and fundraising, whilst ensuring the integrity of the Centre’s property and policy development. The Centre was founded by an Irish Catholic order of nuns in 1985 to support families in the Mukuru slum/shanty town. Over the years the Centre has grown to include four primary schools, a school for the handicapped, a health clinic, and a secondary school sponsorship program.

Our sixth presenter was Frank Colgoni. Frank retired in 2005, after 32 years with Imperial. His last position was National Services Manager (his portfolio included: National Contracts, Information Management & Technical Writing). Frank described how his enthusiasm for restoring cars progressed to car building and finally to a totally new vocation as an event organizer and tour operator. This final chapter of his story began as he organized and led a convoy of hot rod enthusiasts across Canada from Toronto to Victoria. Picking up supporters on the way, he and his wife, Judy, arrived outside the Empress hotel and B.C. parliament building with over 100 vehicles behind them.  Since then he has organized more than a dozen major events in both Canada and the U.S.

Our seventh and most recent presenter was Dave Wetherald. Dave retired in 2003 after 31 years with Imperial.   Dave worked in the Systems and Computer Services Dept his whole career providing desktop support to various downstream and corporate departments. In 1998 he started doing volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity and continued doing so until 2009 during which time he has been involved in building homes for over 175 families in the Greater Toronto Area. Founded in the U.S. in 1976, Habitat for Humanity is now active in 70 countries. The Greater Toronto Area Habitat affiliate was established in 2014 through an amalgamation of three separate Habitat affiliates located in Toronto, Brampton-Caledon, and York Region. Dave described what’s involved when a family applies for a home, the financial arrangements and the time commitment that future homeowners must invest in Habitat for Humanity. As a result, this is not regarded by the families as a handout but rather a personal investment. The session generated many questions regarding construction skills that are needed, the quality of the finished homes and the commitment to safety during construction.

The final three episodes in the Remarkable Journeys series are scheduled for Feb 17, Mar 3 and Mar 17.

Christmas Edition of “Name That Tune” – December 20, 2020 – Ann Doyle

On Sunday evening, December 20th 30 EACTN members joined our hosts Pam and Glen Allen of Musical Twist DJ Service for a virtual ZOOM session to celebrate this festive season. We couldn’t get together for our annual Christmas Dinner Dance nor listen to carols at Roy Thomson Hall but we did socialize with our EACTN friends at this special Christmas themed “Name That Tune” event.

Some dressed up in their favourite Christmas sweater, others wore their best Santa Claus hats and displayed Christmas background decor; still others brought out their favourite cocktail and hors d’oeuvres or dinner to enjoy during an hour of popular and perhaps forgotten Christmas songs and movies.

Our DJ Glen stumped may of us quite often but several members got more than 30 of the 40 snippets he played correct. Catherine R. had the high score of 38 and received a Certificate acknowledging her “outstanding musical knowledge”. It was a fun evening of light-hearted entertainment. Our President, Rick Hotz, ended the session with thanks to the organizers, to those attending and to his Executive and wished all a Very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season. The session ended with a sing along as we all
signed off ZOOM Name That Tune for this year.

Name That Tune Virtual ZOOM Session – Wed. Nov 18/20 – Ann Doyle  

On Wed Nov 18/20 (10AM). EACTN held its first virtual “Name That Tune” ZOOM session.  Excellently hosted by Pam and Glen Allen who are members of the Calgary Annuitant Club (ERAC), the session attracted 22 participants.  While some chose to listen and enjoy the musical memories, others competed to guess the name of each of about 40 songs or TV shows from different eras.  Glen provided some hints about each snippet but never enough to give away the answer.  There was no pressure but we did discover that EACTN has some musical gurus among its members.  Barry Stevenson correctly guessed all the answers and won the bragging rights and a “Certificate”.    At the end of the session there was a short survey which will help us to design any future Zoom sessions of this kind.

Our special thanks to Pam and Glen of Musical Twist DJ Services for bringing us this hour of diversion from the boredom of our COVID routines.