Workshops 2024/2025

Workshops / courses are held on a wide range of topics including the arts, science, history, current affairs, and film. They are developed and led by Academy members who act as facilitators. Some workshops operate as discussion groups where a member may lead a discussion on a chosen topic. In other workshops, members research and deliver presentations on the subject of their choice and lively discussion follows.  Workshops are offered in-person at Tartu College, 310 Bloor Street West, Toronto or online via Zoom. Academy members may register for up to 4 workshops.

You must first JOIN / RENEW membership (click JOIN / RENEW at the top of the website) and then you may register for your preferred workshops.

If you have already joined / renewed your membership, to register for another workshop, remove or change a workshop, or request to be added to a waiting list, email

In accordance with current health guidelines, masks are encouraged but not required for in-person events.

Most workshops meet every other week for 6 sessions in each of the Fall and Winter terms beginning as follows:
Week 1 Start (Fall Term / Week Starting Sept. 9, 2024), Week 2 Start (Fall Term / Week Starting Sept. 16, 2024)
Week 1 Start (Winter Term / Week Starting Jan. 6, 2025), Week 2 Start (Winter Term / Week Starting Jan. 13, 2025)

Workshop Details

Events of the Fortnight

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Friday;  2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person 

At the start of each session the participants suggest topics from the recent news worthy of further discussion. The discussion of each topic starts with a brief introduction by the person suggesting the topic followed by a general discussion.

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Exploring the World of Podcasts

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person

Podcasts are a relatively new use of technology to share information, expand our understanding of the world as well as to entertain us while we go about our active lives. There is a topic for every interest. This workshop aims to explore the world of podcasts by examining those that tackle a variety of topics (example: The Daily by New York Times journalists) to ones that delve deeply into specific subjects (Science Friday) to ones that tell a story (The Memory Palace). We will examine how to choose podcasts that are both reliable and enjoyable. Workshop participants will select a topic, and explore up to three podcasts on that topic. Each presenter will recommend that fellow participants listen to the podcast chosen for the presentation prior to the workshop to enable an informed discussion led by the presenter. Presentation topics may include the biographical sketch of the podcast host(s) and guests, format and style, and quality of the information.

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Extraordinary Lives: Workshop on Biographies

Bi-weekly;  Week Two;  Monday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person

Biographies recount the stories of people’s lives, placing events, decisions and actions into context. Typically their subject matter concerns people who have faced significant obstacles in their lives or who have made a profound impact upon society.

This workshop focuses on biographical books and films that interpret the lives of noteworthy individuals. Each 2-hour session will feature 2 biographies, one book and one film.

A list of suggested easily-accessed biographical books/films will be circulated to registrants in June and the schedule will be developed in consultation between participants and facilitators. Each participant chooses one biography (book or film) on which to develop a brief maximum 20-minute presentation. Participants are encouraged to read the books or watch the films ahead of each session. A biography of personal interest can also be suggested for presentation provided there are easily-accessed resources available for other workshop members for prior preparation.

Discussion will typically focus on challenges individuals faced within the context of their time.

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For the Love of Poetry

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; Online via Zoom 

This workshop focuses on the power and wonder of poetry, with emphasis given to the reading out loud of a poet’s work. We will be looking specifically at poets and poems from 1900 to today. Participants will each select a poet to discuss – famous or obscure — and begin with a short summary of the poet’s life and work, followed by a reading of a few poems and a general discussion of the poems. A list of poets is provided, but participants are free to choose a favorite poet not on the list. There will be two separate presentations in each workshop.

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Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person  **NEW**  

Genealogy involves collecting, organizing, and analyzing information about ancestors of a particular person or family. Using databases (such as Ancestry, MyHeritage, Billion Graves) and data like birth records, marriage certificates, census data, military records, wills, archives, and family stories, a family tree can be built. We will focus on: people’s experiences, people’s intentions, the tools. The intent in this workshop is to share people’s experiences or intentions with topics such as: DNA testing, comparing online databases and resources, illustrating research methods and techniques, understanding different types of records, tracing ancestor’s immigration, and sharing family history. Techniques used for securing information in Canada as well as other countries will be examined. Additionally, information about a place where an ancestor lived many years ago may be of interest. It is not required that participants have already done family research. They are encouraged to share their goals and provide ideas/feedback on what others have discovered or are planning.

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Heiresses: Users and Abusers of Their Fortunes

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Fall Term In-person, Winter Term Online via Zoom  **NEW**  

Imagine your life if you were born heiress to hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars. What would you do with your life? We will examine heiresses from different time periods and cultures, the sources of their fortunes, and the effects of wealth on their lives. We will investigate the privileges and the responsibilities of such fortunes and the ‘poor little rich girl’ cliché.

Over the centuries some people have taken advantage of heiresses and harmed them physically, financially or emotionally such Barbara Hutton, Doris Duke, Patty Hearst or Clare Bronfman. Other heiresses used their wealth to try to better the world (e.g., Gertrude Bell, Nancy Cunard, Isabella Stewart Gardner or Edith Wharton).

All participants will make a 20-25-minute presentation. A list of possible heiress presentation topics will be sent to participants who may also propose heiresses of their choice.

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History of Spain and Travel in Spain Today

Bi-weekly;  Week Two; Monday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Fall Term In-person, Winter Term Online via Zoom, **NEW**

Spain has a long and interesting history, as successive waves of conquerors have come to the land of the original Iberian peoples, each leaving its particular marks. Looking at these gives not just the flavour of Spain, but of the Mediterranean itself. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Gauls, Celts, Goths and Visigoths with early church Roman Catholicism, Islamic Moors of North Africa, and Jews of the Middle Eastern diaspora, these and more have impacted the development and diversities within this nation state.

At the same time, we will look at provinces and cities where the participants have or would like to visit. Each class will consist of two presentations: the first on a portion of Spanish history; the second on a city or province chosen by that presenter.

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Immigrant Experiences in Canada

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Tuesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
One Term – Winter; Online via Zoom  **NEW**  

How do newcomers to Canada experience life here? Not all in the same way. Let’s read some recent first-person essays and fiction excerpts to see what some newcomers and second-generation immigrants say around key themes. We’ll express our thoughts and reactions from our own perspectives, whether born-in-Canada or a (long-ago?) immigrant. For background, we’ll add a short report on the statistics of immigrants from the various countries and, where possible, on the author’s life.

Texts, two to three per meeting, usually a total of about four pages, will be posted at the start of the course. Participants will be asked to join the conversation for each essay and to sign up to report on one author bio or immigration statistics. Key themes: Desire to belong, attitude toward the family’s original culture, language skills, child/parent attitudes, hope for the future in Canada.

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Jazz Appreciation

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Thursday;  2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person

The workshop features all aspects of jazz such as various eras, styles, musicians, groups, and instruments.

Each participant is requested to select a jazz related topic and prepare one or two presentations (depending on workshop size) of 50 minutes, the majority of which will be recorded music. Discussion occurs spontaneously during and after each presentation.

This is an enthusiastic. interactive, and fun class. All are welcome from curious beginners to those who have enjoyed all aspects of jazz for many years.

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Memoir Writing and Reading

Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Monday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Two Terms; In-person 

Memoir, unlike autobiography, is the art of reminiscing about particular events, people and/or time periods in our lives and is becoming increasingly popular. As in previous years, participants will present extracts from their own writing. Ideas/prompts are offered to stimulate writing in class and provide a source for longer pieces. Time will be given to share these explorations in a supportive and inviting atmosphere. Participants are encouraged to provide constructive feedback to sharers (who request it), as learning from others (and from published memoirs) is a significant component of this workshop.

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