Travis Steffens – Lemurs, Forests, and People

A snowy early winter evening on November 15 welcomed Canadian Club of Halton dinner guests to a fascinating and educational presentation on the island nation of Madagascar situated off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

The guest speaker was Travis Steffens, the Founder and Executive Director of Planet Madagascar, a Canadian not-for-profit conservation education & community development organization that is working to protect Madagascar’s biodiversity while improving the lives of the people who live there.

With a BSc in Primatology and a Masters in Anthropology both from the University of Calgary, and a PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of Toronto, Travis, and his team, are interested in understanding how primates respond to habitat loss and fragmentation, and in applying research results that include the participation of the residents of local communities.

Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world, roughly the size of Alberta, with a population of 26 million, 2/3 of whom live on less than $1 US per day. Millions of years ago the separation of Madagascar from the landmasses of Africa, India, Australia and Antarctica resulted in its now being home to an abundance of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth, especially lemurs which are primates and of which there are over 100 species, almost all classified as rare, vulnerable, or endangered.

With his presentation titled “Lemurs, Forests and People: Building Sustainable Forest Communities in Madagascar”, Travis informed the audience about Planet Madagascar’s efforts to educate and train the local residents about the importance of responsible fire management and prevention, forest restoration, conservation of lemurs, conservation education programs for children and adults, and a women’s cooperative focused on sustainable agroforestry and forest restoration and eventually projects that will include sanitation, women’s health and education.

More information about Planet Madagascar can be found at www.planetmadagascar.org.

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Blair Roblin – Our Aging World

Dr. Blair Roblin was the guest speaker at the October 18 Canadian Club of Halton dinner where he shared his thoughts about the biggest social phenomenon to hit the 21st century – the aging of our society. He discussed how this will soon impact all facets of our lives including health care, employment, consumer marketing and technology.

Dr. Roblin holds a PhD in health policy & gerontology from the University of Toronto and a Masters degree in disability studies from York University, as well as a law degree, an MBA and a Chartered Business Valuator designation. As a consultant to business, his insights have been drawn from over 30 years of investment banking experience, advising boards and management teams on growth strategies, mergers, acquisitions and capital markets.

“Health care is the largest single expense for most governments, and seniors’ care is the biggest component” Dr. Roblin says. As a researcher in health care services for seniors, he spoke at length about the growing demand for long-term care beds and for home care alternatives, the lengthening waiting lists and the disparity in the funding of home care services compared to long-term care facilities. He admitted that his vision of alternative housing through a program he dubbed as “Home Sweet Home” where like-minded seniors live together in a private home helping one another, staying fit, encouraging a healthy life style and giving seniors continuing ways to contribute will not work under Ontario’s current regulations.

“The economic implications of aging extend all the way from pension plans to consumer markets. As the role of the older worker expands, management teams and HR departments strive to reconfigure the workplace while the law tries to keep up” Dr. Roblin says.

Ageism, discrimination on the basis of a person’s age, portrays seniors as feeble, senile, bad drivers, depressed, disabled, constipated and lonely. However, seniors today are feeling much younger and “are more focused on creative activity and individual rights and they even look quite different from seniors of the past.”

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Ted Barris – Dam Busters

Ted Barris, award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster, held his audience of 135 people spellbound at the September 20 Canadian Club of Halton dinner, the first dinner in its 33rd season. Ted’s recently published book – Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid against Nazi Germany – was the subject of his delightful and informative talk. It recounts the dramatic story of the May 16, 1943 high-risk Allied Bomber Command mission to fly 19 Lancaster bombers with 133 airmen into the industrial heartland of the Third Reich to destroy power dams on the Ruhr River. The raiders breached two dams and severely damaged a third. Eleven of the Lancasters made it back as did 16 of the 30 RCAF airmen who participated.

The book clearly highlights the role that Canada’s young men played in bringing an end to the Second World War. Often these well-trained and dedicated airmen did not receive the recognition they deserved, according to Ted.

For more than 40 years Ted’s writing has regularly appeared in the Globe and Mail and the National Post, as well as in magazines as diverse as Legion, Air Force, esprit de corps, Quill and Quire, and Zoomer. He has also worked as host and contributor for most CBC Radio network programs, and on TV Ontario. This year, after 18 years of teaching, he retired as a full-time professor of journalism and broadcasting at Toronto’s Centennial College.

Ted is the author of 19 bestselling non-fiction books, including a series on wartime Canada. The Great Escape: A Canadian Story won a 2014 Libris Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award.

Dam Busters is a fascinating accounting of one of the most important attacks of World War II, hastening its end. It is a story about talented, intelligent and determined Canadian heroes, usually in their late teens and early 20’s, who placed country above their own personal safety. The book is a compelling read and Ted Barris brought it to life with his dynamic presentation style and detailed knowledge along with a few video clips and numerous slides.

Excerpted from the book’s forward by Peter Mansbridge: “He was young – still in his teens – a little bit nervous but overall very excited by the moment. He peered out the mid-upper gunner’s turret at a vast expanse of water… It was loud, very loud inside the Lancaster….”

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Marrying the Art of Winemaking with the Business of Wine


Award-winning winemaker, Craig McDonald, was the guest speaker at the latest dinner presented by the Canadian Club of Halton on April 19 at the Oakville Conference Centre. The evening included a delicious dinner, followed by the opportunity to hear Craig’s entertaining personal story that started in Red Cliffs, Australia, his progression as a young winemaker with vintages in  Oregon, Australia, New Zealand and Niagara, recognition as Ontario Winemaker of the Year in 2008 at Creekside Winery in Vineland and again in 2016 at Trius Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Two years ago he was named Vice President, Winemaking for Andrew Peller Limited.

While retaining Senior Winemaker responsibilities at Trius, Craig now oversees winemaking activities at all wineries in the Peller family – Peller, Thirty Bench, Trius and Wayne Gretzky in Ontario and Black Hills, Calona, Grey Monk, Red Rooster, Sandhill and Tinhorn Creek in BC.

His extensive experience in the wine industry has enabled him to help create and advise in the making of many of the wines, whiskies and visitor experiences that appeal to all age groups.

Craig highlighted the dramatic results of “Marrying the Art of Winemaking with the Business of Wine”, particularly in the Niagara region, by telling us that Peller Estates Winery is #1 in all of North America with the largest number of visitors annually, followed by Trius Winery in 2nd place, Mondavi in California in 3rd place and Wayne Gretzky Winery & Distillery in 4th place (after being open for just one year).

Joining Craig at the dinner’s head table were Jim & Charlotte Warren. Jim is the founder of Stoney Ridge Winery in the Niagara region and was its award-winning winemaker. He also created and taught the winemaking program at Niagara College for a number of years and continues to consult in the grape and fruit wine industry. His wife Charlotte was the anchor on the retail side of the winery.

Also at the head table was Diane Beaulieu, Executive Director, Halton Women’s Place, to accept a $500 donation cheque from the Canadian Club of Halton. A donation of $500 is made at each of the year’s 7 dinners to an organization chosen by that evening’s speaker.

In place of the normal Canadian Club of Halton thank you gift of Niagara wines to the speaker, Carol and Damian Goriup, owners of Florence Meats in Oakville, donated a sizable gift of some of their signature meat products. Celebrating 40 years in Oakville, Florence Meats was recognized as Mid-Size Business of the Year at this year’s Oakville Awards for Business Excellence.

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Trevor Cole – Journalist, Novelist and Non-Fiction Author

Trevor Cole is an award-winning journalist, novelist and non-fiction author. He started in radio, writing ads for local businesses in Simcoe, Cornwall and Ottawa. In the mid-eighties he moved to magazine journalism ending up at The Globe and Mail. As a journalist, he has won nine National Magazine awards and still writes for magazines such as Report on Business Magazine, Canadian Geographic, Macleans and Toronto Life.

In the fall of 2000, Trevor left his full-time job at the Globe and Mail to write novels. His first two books — Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life and The Fearsome Particles — were both short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award and long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Norman Bray was also short-listed for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book in the Canada-Caribbean region. His third novel, the dark comedy, Practical Jean, published in 2010, was nominated for the Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and won the famous Leacock Medal for Humour. His fourth novel, Hope Makes Love, was published in 2014.

Trevor’s first non-fiction book, The Whisky King: The Remarkable True Story of Canada’s Most Infamous Bootlegger and the Undercover Mountie on His Trail is the result of two years of research pouring over thousands of old newspapers, books and archival documents. Published in April 2017, it quickly hit the Canadian best-seller list. A soft-cover version of the book was released this March.

The Whisky King was the basis for Trevor’s entertaining and educational presentation, providing insights into the fascinating stories of two Italian Canadians – Rocco Perri, the little Calabrian based in Hamilton who became Canada’s biggest bootlegger in the Prohibition era, and Frank Zaneth, the northern Italian who became Canada’s first undercover Mountie.

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Ken McGoogan – Author, Historian, Travel Writer

Ken McGoogan is the author of a dozen books including four previous bestsellers on Arctic exploration – Fatal Passage, Ancient Mariner, Lady Franklin’s Revenge and Race to the Polar Sea. His latest book, “Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage”, was the basis of his engaging talk to the Canadian Club of Halton. Ken proved his talent as a brilliant and humorous story teller as he illustrated the history of the various attempts at discovering a passage through the Arctic including the mysteries of the Franklin Voyages. He is a globe-trotting ex-journalist who survived shipwreck in the Indian Ocean, chased the ghost of Lady Franklin from England to Tasmania, and placed a commemorative plaque on Boothia Peninsula in the High Arctic.

Ken’s latest book “challenges the conventional narrative of the Northwest Passage which emerged out of Victorian England and focuses almost exclusively on Royal Navy officers. By integrating non-British and fur-trade explorers and, above all, Canada’s indigenous peoples, Dead Reckoning drags the story of Arctic discovery into the twenty-first century.” The audience all came away with a much better understanding of the events and hardships that shaped the history of our country in the Arctic.

The award-winning author’s other books include Celtic Lightning, 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, and How the Scots Invented Canada. He has won numerous awards for his books including the UBC Medal for Canadian Biography and the Pierre Berton Award for History.

Ken worked as a journalist for two decades, served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission and is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Explorers Club. He teaches narrative non-fiction at the University of Toronto and in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of King’s College in Halifax. Every summer, he voyages in the Northwest Passage as a resource historian with Adventure Canada.

Article courtesy of Janet Bedford.

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Dr. David Posen Featured Speaker

Authenticity: A Guide to Living in Harmony with Your True Self is the fascinating subject and title for the 5th book written by Oakville’s Dr. David Posen, MD, best-selling author and motivational speaker and consultant on stress and change management. The Canadian Club of Halton enjoyed a near-record turnout of well over 200 guests, excited to hear Dr. Posen share his expertise and some stories from his recently published book. Dr. Posen’s 4 previous books include The Little Book of Stress Relief, translated into seven languages, and Is Work Killing You?, profiled in media outlets across North America.

Drawing on real-life examples from over 30 years in his stress management practice, Dr. Posen has identified five common problem areas that can lead to anxiety and unhappiness – personality traits, time and speed, sleep deprivation, values conflicts, and neglected passions.

Authenticity was a challenging book to write, he said. It is difficult to be yourself, and getting an introduction to one’s self can take time! It is, however, an opportunity to “listen to your body, understand your mind and make better choices in your life.” As Dr. Posen so cleverly pointed out “Pavarotti did not sing soprano and it is easier to ski down a hill”. He says that people are often disconnected from who they are, draining energy from their lives.

Do you know what gives you energy and what robs you of your energy? Dr. Posen spent time on two types of people, Introverts and extroverts. As an example he said that actor Robin Williams was actually an introvert – no matter how extroverted he appeared in action. As an introvert, recovery time is required to stay balanced. This can help to explain the behaviour of ourselves and loved ones, as there is an optimal level of mental arousal for every person. The world would be a healthier place if we would try not to influence others to be what we want them to be and allow them to be their authentic selves. It would also be useful for us to realize that when we are going our fastest, we cannot go any faster!

Dr. Posen’s recipes for life also include finding the ultimate sleep patterns for you. Too many people underestimate the number of hours of sleep that they need every night. He also encourages us to find and follow our passions – instead of our pensions. And take time to be bored – that’s when creativity can kick in! If we could discover the parts of our lives that have taken away our authenticity, we could have an entirely new experience.

All this and much more can be found in Dr. Posen’s new book, Authenticity.

Article courtesy of Janet Bedford.

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Barry Wylie receives Paul Harris Fellowship Award

The Paul Harris Fellowship Award is one of the highest honours Rotary can bestow upon a person. Recipients are Rotarians and community professionals, in recognition of their outstanding contributions, exemplifying the highest ideal in Rotary in placing “Service Above Self.” This honour accompanies a donation of $1,000 or more, in the recipient’s name, to Rotary International’s “Annual Program Fund,” which supports Rotary’s world-wide programs. 

Barry Wylie, President of Canadian Club of Halton, was bestowed with this coveted award on January 24th at the Paul Harris Community Awards Annual Fellowship Dinner hosted by the three Rotary clubs of Oakville. Canadian Club of Halton Board Director Susan Sheppard made the announcement at the Canadian Club dinner event on January 25th. Susan said, “this is outstanding recognition of what Barry does to contribute to a number of causes, including the Canadian Club of Halton and the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.” The audience of over 200 gave a hearty round of applause to Barry.

Other recipients included (left to right) Tracey Ehl, Eve Willis, Patricia Harbman (for Chris Stoate), Leslie Ann Bent, Barry Wylie, and Bill Shields.

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Franco Vaccarino’s Vision

“My Vision for Canada 2067: Our Strength of Diversity and Common Purpose” was the topic for discussion by Franco Vaccarino, PhD, FCAHS, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Guelph, at the latest gathering of the Canadian Club of Halton at the Oakville Conference Centre.

Dr. Vaccarino discussed lessons learned about resilience and opportunity, how he applies those lessons in leading Canada’s food university, and how those ideas may help us shape our shared future in this country and beyond.

“Canada is a land of many peoples, including its numerous immigrants who have found and made new lives here. Our diversity – and our willingness to seek common ground – is what lends our country resilience and strength” says Dr. Vaccarino. “Diversity requires us to look for the common humanity that we share and that makes Canada what it is – this land of opportunity that attracts people from all over the world, including my own family from Italy in 1958 and all the families that have arrived here before and since”.

A builder and a visionary with an entrepreneurial spirit and a powerful commitment to community and societal engagement, Dr. Vaccarino acknowledged the future population growth and the challenges we as a common community face.  He outlined his plan to help us feed the nine billion people that will populate the planet by 2052 and the need for a precision agriculture environmental footprint to accomplish this.

Dr. Vaccarino acknowledged that Canada is not perfect. However, we are a country willing to work at it and willing to look at both the good and the not so good and decide which patterns need to be either changed or replaced.  “How do you see the challenge?” was his question to the audience present that evening.

Article and photos courtesy of Janet Bedford.

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