Opinion Column

CAREERS AND COLLEGE: Algonquin College 2017 Speaker Series focuses on Canadian history

Jamie Bramburger

By Jamie Bramburger, Special to The Daily Observer

Michael Lea/Postmedia Network

Writer Merilyn Simonds, author of The Convict Lover, will be in Pembroke Sept. 12 as part of the Algonquin College Speaker Series. Her talk will cover a number of stories about the prison including Canada’s first prison riot.

Michael Lea/Postmedia Network Writer Merilyn Simonds, author of The Convict Lover, will be in Pembroke Sept. 12 as part of the Algonquin College Speaker Series. Her talk will cover a number of stories about the prison including Canada’s first prison riot.

it’s a big year for Algonquin College and Canada as 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the college and the country’s 150th birthday. To celebrate both occasions, the college will be dedicating its 2017 popular Speaker Series to Canadian history.

The Speaker Series kicked off recently with Steve Paikin, the long-time host of TVO’s popular political affairs program, The Agenda. Paikin drew a large crowd as he discussed his most recent book on former Ontario Premier, Bill Davis, who founded the Ontario college system in 1967.

The next speaker will be Tricia Logan, education and outreach co-ordinator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission issued 94 calls to action in its landmark report which dealt with several sensitive issues including residential schools.

Logan’s presentation on April 18 will focus on the legacy of the residential schools, the inclusion and exclusion of the schools in Canadian history and what it means to approach a new version of Canada and revised Canadian histories. This presentation will be free and will be held at Pembroke’s Festival Hall.

Sean Conway was well known for his oratory skills during his more than two decades as an elected member of the Ontario legislature. Now retired, Conway is a frequent lecturer at Ontario universities, but on May 8 he will be behind the podium at the Waterfront Campus to share stories on the colour and character of the Ottawa Valley political tradition.

The now-closed Kingston Penitentiary was Canada’s oldest and most notorious prison. It was also the backdrop for author Merilyn Simonds’ best-selling book, The Convict Lover. The book tells the story of a young Renfrew man who is imprisoned for a series of misdeeds in the Ottawa Valley, but strikes up a distance romance with a teenage girl.

Simonds, who has authored 17 books, will participate in the Speaker Series on Sept. 12. Her talk will cover a number of stories about the prison including Canada’s first prison riot, some of more notorious criminals who were housed there, and why the prison was built in Kingston.

For Canadian hockey fans, Sept. 28, 1972 is etched in the collective memories of those who remember what happened on that date 45 years ago. It was the day that Paul Henderson of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored late in the deciding game eight of the Summit Series giving Canada a 6-5 win over the Soviet Union.

Author Roy MacSkimming has written a book called, Cold War and will re-live the series which was much more than hockey, but rather a symbolic battle between two political systems at a time when political tensions between the West and Soviet Bloc were at their peak. MacSkimming will make his presentation on the exact anniversary date of the Henderson goal.

The final Canadian history presentation will be on Nov. 8 with award-winning and acclaimed author, Charlotte Gray. Gray will present her new book, The Promise of Canada: 150 years-People and Ideas that Have Shaped our Country.

There may be additional speakers added to the list, but one thing is clear. If you like Canadian history, this series will be a wonderful educational experience. Tickets for all of these speakers are now on sale at Algonquin College’s Waterfront Campus.

Jamie Bramburger is the manager of community and student affairs at Algonquin College’s Waterfront Campus in Pembroke. Jamie can be reached at brambuj@algonquincollege.com