2023 Winter Speakers Series

The Speakers Series returns with a diverse list of 6 talks with experts in their own fields. Cozy up at home. The Speakers Series will be held over Zoom on Thursday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 PM. Sign up, and you will get links to them all, each link e-mailed to you the day before the presentation. Join as many as you like! To sign up, please contact Helen Mogford at hmogford@gmail.com.
Donations to MERA are welcomed and appreciated. (suggestion of $10 per presentation – Interac e-Transfer to “MERA” at meraschoolhouse@gmail.com)


Jan. 12 – Steve Kotze, South Africa’s Colonial and Apartheid past

South Africa’s history of resistance and how it connects to Canada. Stephen was born and raised in South Africa ad has been living in Canada for almost 40 years. His talk will include part of his personal story in relation to Apartheid and the opposition to it.

Jan. 19 – Bob Volks, Birds and Birding

Join us for a fun evening talking birding, birds, products and having them live with us in our yards.
Bob is the co-founder of The Gilligallou Bird Inc, Eastern Ontario’s BackYard Birding Specialty store.
Located at 14 Mill street Almonte for the past 11 years, it is our mission is to enhance our customers’ backyard birding experience with quality products , resources and service.

Jan. 26 – Stephen Brathwaite, What’s a Redeveloper?

Stephen Brathwaite talks about heritage restoration, puppetry and public art in Almonte. Arts and culture can have an enormous impact on economic development and would appear to have done so here in the Hallmark town.

Feb. 2 –  Helga Zimmerly, Running Away to Sea: A Risky Business

In their mid-40’s, Helga and David Zimmerly left a comfortable urban working life to spend 10 years cruising from Ottawa to the Canadian arctic to Thailand on Erasmus, their 35’ sailboat. Join them as they discuss the risks and the rewards of setting out on a grand adventure.
Their talk will be illustrated with maps and photos as they compare the risks of their voyage with that of two other cruising boats.

Feb.9 – Heidi Stepanek and Kris Riendeau The “Stages” of Community Theatre

For many decades, community theatre has played a dynamic role in the small towns and rural communities of the Ottawa Valley. On stage, backstage, or in the audience — there’s a place for everyone!
In this lecture, Kris Riendeau and Heidi Stepanek will walk you through some of the past highlights and key players, examine ways in which amateur theatre has evolved locally, and attempt to infuse you with their passion for this creative community-building tool.

Feb.16 – Nicola Oddy, Jennifer Noxon: Singing for Community, Self Growth and Personal Health.

Nicola Oddy is a music therapist and has been leading choirs since 1993 in and around the Perth area. For her recent PHD, she studied exploring the voice in different locations. Nicola will lead you through a vocal experience after which we will discuss the benefits of singing together and how the place in which we sing plays an important role in our singing experience.
Jennifer Noxon is a teacher, performing songwriter and visual artist who established Rhythm & Song! Community Choir in Almonte in January 2016. Jennifer will lead participants in a song using the oral call and response approach and will talk about the importance of being able to sing for fun and well-being. She will also talk about the ways this approach helps to improve our singing AND listening skills and how singing with others nurtures new friendships and develops our sense of connection to our community.