The PROBUS Club of Applewood
in Mississauga
November 2020  - Ellin Bessner
A Score to Settle with Hitler: Canada’s 17,000 Jewish military fighters in WWII"

Our November meeting, as always, featured “The Last Post” and a speaker on a military theme. Our speaker was Ellin Bessner, a Toronto-based journalist and author who teaches journalism at Centennial College.  Ellin spoke to us about her book, Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military, and WWII published by the University of Toronto Press in 2018 after 4 years of archival research and hundreds of interviews.
Ellin told us that, despite the small Jewish population in Canada at that time, some 17,000 signed up for military service and saw action in most of the major engagements of the war.  Although they often faced anti-semitism at home and on the battlefield, they were highly motivated by the fight to save their fellow Jews from Hitler and the holocaust.
Her talk highlighted some of the Jewish men and women who achieved positions of prominence after the war -- including former Defence Minister Barney Danson, Senator David Croll, and the entertainers Monty Hall and Wayne and Shuster.
At Ellin’s suggestion, a couple of our Probus members shared their own family wartime experiences.
Double Threat is available at all major book stores.
October 2020 - Adam Shoalts
"Beyond the Trees"

Adam Shoalts is a best-selling author and has been called one of Canada’s greatest living explorers.   In 1918 he was named an Explorer-in-residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.  He grew up in small town Southern Ontario, and always dreamed of seeing what the  Canada, “beyond the trees” is really like.

Those who attended the Zoom meeting were treated to a magnificent set of slides that, along with Adam’s commentary,  clearly depicted the scenery, the wildlife and the hardships endured when crossing Canada’s north, “beyond the trees”. The presentation bought us along on his solo journey across the Artic and the urgency of making it back before winter sets in. 

Started in Canada’s northwest, by himself, in a canoe, loaded with provisions and a camera, Adam recorded his journey and shared it with our club members.  A Canoe manufacturer in  London Ontario produced a “one of a kind” canoe for him. He filled it with provisions , made his way to the North West Territories in the Spring of the year and headed east until finishing, in late fall, in Northern Ontario.  The journey consisted of paddling, portaging, dragging his canoe, walking through muskeg, finding his way from river to lakes to more rivers, and more lakes. Always heading east. 

Along the journey Adam encountered  a variety animals that are totally unique to the north.  Although generally friendly , there were some that caused some anxious moments. While he had his own provisions, he lived “off the land” for much of the journey, losing approximately thirty pounds before he finished.

Adam indicated that he is taking some time off to start a family, but  expects that there are more nature journeys in his future.  His presentation was a short review of his most recent book entitled “Alone Against the North: An Exhibition into the Unknown”, a “must read” for those who enjoy an outdoor adventure.
December 10, 2020  - Jill Heinerth

Our Applewood Probus speaker at the December 10 th ZOOM meeting was Jill Heinerth, speaking to us from her home in Carleton Place near Ottawa. Jill is an underwater cave explorer, writer, photographer and filmmaker who was inducted into the Explorers Club and the inaugural class of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She is the inaugural Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and recipient of Canada’s prestigious Polar Medal and the diving world’s highest award from the Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Her talk was illustrated with incredible underwater cave photographs and video clips. Jill grew up in Mississauga. She related a story from her teen years of a burglar entering their home at night on two occasions, and how this was the beginning of her learning how to deal with sudden unexpected fear, a skill which she needed many times during her diving career. Jill’s training as a diver began in Canadian waters in many different locations including Georgian Bay at Tobermory, and later moved to a diving school in the Cayman Islands where she honed her craft as an underwater photographer.

She spent a lot of time exploring underwater caves in Florida, the Bahamas and Mexico; and eventually married her cave diving instructor Paul Heinerth, who owned a dive shop in Florida. Jill, aided by her photos and videos, told us how they would find a way through a crack in the wall to enter into an underwater cave to explore its depth and extent, and how they would trace their path so they could find their way back, all the time keeping track of their gas supply and watching the clock. She related many harrowing experiences that required great knowledge and skill to escape and survive. And always at the end of each exploration there was the slow timing of the ascent to avoid decompression illness symptoms.

Jill related one occasion when she suffered the bends but she survived and eventually was able to resume diving. One of the most exciting things Jill told us occurred in 2001 when a huge chunk of ice 180 miles long and about the size of Jamaica broke off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica well south of the Antarctic Circle. It was the largest iceberg ever recorded. The National Geographic decided to launch a filming expedition to Antarctica and enlisted Jill to be the Diving Safety Officer. Paul was also on the team. The team flew to New Zealand and travelled with great difficulty by ship and helicopter across the Antarctica ice shelf. They reached the iceberg and entered through a large cleft to the seafloor. They were constantly filming using video lights to illuminate the otherwise completely dark passages. The water was very cold and the equipment heavy. On one dive the strong current shifted the ice and covered the exit route, but Jill finally found a new way out of the iceberg. To reach the surface and get back to the ship required climbing a vertical ice tunnel. Fortunately, Jill discovered that the ice fish created small holes in the ice surface, and by dislodging the fish you could get a finger grip and slowly climb the wall to the surface.

Jill, Paul and the 3rd team member returned safely to the ship. That night the ship was torn from its anchorage by huge waves created by the iceberg exploding. Made it by one day! Jill and Paul eventually decided to go their separate ways. Jill later married Robert McClellan. She continues to do diving excursions and projects. I greatly respect Jill as a very brave and talented woman.

I know that our members greatly enjoyed her presentation. If you haven’t yet read her book Into the Planet, published by Doubleday Canada, I urge you to do so. It is a spellbinding read. Find it in bookstores or on Amazon. Her website gives more details about her work.

Jill’s new children’s book, The Aquanaut, is to be released by Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, on January 19, 2021.

Reg Perkin

January 2021 – Eric McGoey and Shelley Babbin

The Role of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in Canada’s Low-Carbon Future

The speakers were introduced by Bob Weese.

Eric McGoey is the Director of Remote Generation Development and New Nuclear Development at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and Shelley Babbin is Senior Vice President and General Counsel at OPG.

Shelley spoke first and indicated that she is a member of the executive team that oversees the strategy of SMR development at OPG. She is also a member of the board of Global First Power, a joint venture that proposes to build a very small modular reactor (vSMR) at the Chalk River Laboratory.  She noted that the present political climate in Canada strongly encourages the development of energies that have low carbon emissions. She then turned the talk over to Eric.

Eric began by describing the current state of nuclear power generation at OPG.  The company is the oldest and largest nuclear operator in Canada. It operates two nuclear stations in Ontario, the Pickering and Darlington sites, and owns a third station that is privately leased. OPG has over 10,000 employees, with 5,500 involved in nuclear. OPG has also expanded into the United States, although mainly in hydroelectric power.

The Pickering plant is slated to end commercial operations in 2025. The Darlington plant is one of the top performing sites in the world, with consistently high safety and performance ratings. It produces approximately 20% of Ontario’s electricity. It is the only site in Canada that is licensed for new nuclear build with approved environmental assessment (EA). Across Canada nuclear provides 76,000 jobs and contributes $17 billion per year to GDP. Canada is a Tier 1 nuclear nation, which means it encompasses the full range of nuclear activity from mining uranium to waste management.

Everything about nuclear power now has to do with climate change. Ontario has led the country in moving from fossil fuels to non-emitting forms of electricity, mainly nuclear. About 60% of Ontario’s power comes from nuclear (about 25% comes from hydroelectric, and less than 10% from combined wind and solar). Wind and solar are low carbon, renewable sources, but they are intermittent, dependent upon the weather, and they require battery storage that is expensive and short term. Hydroelectric power is an excellent, renewable source of power with a low carbon footprint, but its availability is limited in many provinces.

Large CANDU reactors are safe but they are complex and expensive to operate and require a large staff. Technological advances have made SMRs that are smaller, less complex, cheaper to use, require less staff to operate, and safer overall than CANDU reactors. They range from community size (<1MW) to utility scale (about 300MW). They also have other advantages over large reactors: they can be placed underground, which enhances security; they have enhanced safety features that include automatic shutdown in emergencies; the heat generated by them can be used for other purposes, such as smelting and oil sands extraction; and they are cheaper to operate.

SMRs are a large part of OPGs Climate Change Plan, which is to become a net zero carbon company by 2040 in a net zero carbon economy by 2050. In Canada, larger SMRs of 150-300MW are an option for producing on-grid power (e.g., at Darlington); smaller SMRs of 10-80MW could be used in heavy industries, such as mining; and very small modular reactors (vSMRs) of 1-10MW could be used to produce electricity and heat in remote communities.

OPG is working with peers in other provinces to advance the use of SMRs. The premiers of Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to advance SMRs, and Alberta plans to join. Three streams of use of SMRs are planned: Stream 1 consists of ready now technologies that can be employed this decade to reach carbon reduction goals by 2030; Stream 2 focusses on advanced reactor designs that will burn reprocessed fuel from CANDU reactors; and Stream 3 is focused on the deployment of very small reactors (vSMRs) for use in remote mines and small, off-grid communities that use diesel fuel.

OPG is trying to lead on Streams 1 and 3. On-grid technologies are being assessed at Darlington, with a view to providing additional nuclear power by 2030. Off-grid technologies are being assessed at the Chalk River site by Global First Power. The vSMR at Chalk River is the model for industry and mining in remote locations.

For the Darlington site OPG is now interviewing 3 different developers to see if they can meet the following requirements: do they have advanced safety features; are they able to produce the amount of electricity required by Ontario and other provinces; can they hit the timeline of 2028; do they advance pan-Canadian goals of reducing fossil fuel use; can they ensure the supply chain; can they conform with EA goals. Recently the Government of Ontario announced support of the plan to have an on-grid SMR (~300 MW) at the Darlington site. OPG anticipates selecting a technology by the end of this year (2021). They envision providing additional low-carbon, reliable energy to meet Ontario’s demand near the end of the decade.

In summary, OPG is well positioned to lead the next generation of nuclear power.  It is the largest nuclear operator in Canada with a skilled workforce and a history of safe operations. The company has extensive experience with indigenous and site communities, which will facilitate working in remote locations.

The speakers were thanked by Denis Bailey

Denis Bailey
February 2021 – Natalie Jenner

Her New Book - "The Jane Austen Society"

Natalie Jenner, budding Canadian author, retired lawyer, former Oakville book-store owner, career coach, mother, and friend of my daughter's, Emily, addressed the club at our meeting on Zoom  on February 11, 2012 about writing her internationally acclaimed best selling first novel, "The Jane Austen Society."

She mentioned her failure to get accepted her 5 previously unpublished novels, her husband's on-going struggle with an incurable lung disease called IPF and the impact of this on her family, her love of Jane Austen, and her passion to bring the public's focus on Austen's writings out of the narrow pigeon-hole of "chick" literature back into the general category of great literature, appealing to all, where it had been until the 1920s and where it truly belongs.

She described her development of story (seat-of-the pants writing: minimal pre-planning), her love and attention to every word, comma, etc. and her love of writing for 13 hours a day to find out how her characters would reveal themselves and how the story lines would unfold. (She would have an idea of how principal story lines would likely end up, but had to wait to the end of her writing to find out for sure.)

She described her many visits to Jane Austen's cottage in Chawton, England (the saving of which was front-and-centre in "The Jane Austen Society"), and how she absorbed the atmosphere surrounding Austen and the  writing of her six novels.

Roy Hicks thanked Natalie on behalf of the members.

Brian Howitt wrote afterwards that he and his wife, Gladys, really enjoyed Natalie's presentation, and that he went online right after it to order "The Jane Austen Society". They have been in the general area of Chawton, he reported, but have never been to the actual house. The presentation made them want to go back again for another visit.

Tom Axworthy wrote afterwards that Natalie was as wonderful as her book--warm, encouraging, and articulate. He was appreciative of the story I (Paul Moore) told when I introduced Natalie at the meeting, of how Natalie and I first met when she was a 16 year-old classmate of Emily's. It was at my farm in winter. I was reading a book by the fire, chuckling to myself. Natalie asked me what I was reading. "Pride and Prejudice," I said.

Natalie wrote afterwards, "I am so glad that your members enjoyed the presentation, and truly appreciate both the forum and the support for my book! I know it's a tough time for everyone, but experiences like this keep this debut author going."

Paul Moore
March 2021 – Dr. Craig Laferriere
COVID 19 vaccines. A history of innovation

Our March 11, 2021, speaker was Dr. Craig Laferriere, an accomplished medical consultant and advisor in the field of vaccine design and manufacturing in the regulation, clinical research, access and marketing of vaccines.
Dr. Laferriere graduated from the University of Ottawa with a PHD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry.
He has 25 years of experience working with companies such as Biovac in South Africa, GlaxoSmithKline in Belgium and Canada, Pfizer Canada and lately as Consulting Head of Vaccine Development at Novateur Ventures Inc.
Dr. Laferriere’s presentation to our Applewood Probus members described in layman’s language his research activities and in particular Covid-19 vaccine development around the world and gave some insight as to the lack of manufacturing this vaccine in Canada at the present time.
Should you wish to view his presentation please follow the link to his recorded talk on the Applewood Probus Website.
Garry Jenkins introduced the speaker and after an interesting and active question period was thanked by  John Mark
April 2021 – Jeff Simpson
The State of U.S. Politics and Implications for Canada:
the first months of the Biden presidency, civil war in the Republican Party, and what it all means for Canada

Jeff Simpson  was, for many years ,the lead political columnist for the Globe and Mail where he was renowned  both for his non partisanship and his good common sense (a quality often lacking in politics and public policy). Beyond his political commentary he also delved deeply into  (and wrote books on) complicated subjects like climate change and health policy. He ranged widely in his Probus talk but concentrated on American politics and the future of the Republican party. His thesis was that the United States is very divided, it will take a long time (if ever) for these divisions  to heal (he quoted the noted author Richard Hofstadter on the paranoid style of American politics) and that Canada must not assume that Trumpism is over and we should be prepared to face a uncertain future with our giant neighbour.

Tom Axworthy

May 2021 – Dr. Paul K. Bates,MTS, DPT, FCPA, FCMA, CMC. 

Living Life Abundantly

Our speaker for April was Dr. Paul Bates, former Dean of the business school at McMaster University. He spoke on the topic of leadership, based on his recent Doctoral studies, and how both the board of directors and management of companies often lose sight of their responsibility of establishing the ethos of the work environment. In fact, in interviews with a broad range of employees it became apparent that many lacked a sense of satisfaction, of recognition of value in their jobs, often feeling the company put profit above everything else.  There was a feeling of dissonance in their working life, and several commented of their search for more spiritual fulfilment. What they were seeking was a sense value and of trustworthiness from their superiors, and actions that lined up with what they were being told were the company’s objectives.
Paul stressed that the responsibility for establishing the mission and values of the company beyond simple short-term profitability lay not only with management, but also the board of directors.  He suggested these statements should incorporate recognition of the value of employees, constant and extensive communication, and of craft over speed and price.  After his presentation, he spent a significant time answering several wide-ranging questions.  In his answers he expanded his comments to include thoughts on the rate of change in industry; recognition of multiculturalism; the loss of tradition.  All these are bringing a   significant change in market expectations.  He also commented on findings that changes in organizational structure from the traditional hierarchical top-down approach to a more nodal model had the unintended consequences of creating significant and destructive micro aggression amongst units.
From the responses and questions, it was evident his comments obviously resonated with our members, and his messages on leadership can still be applied by us as we move forward in retirement.
Dr. Bates is the author of his book “For Others to Follow: An Ethos of Leadership Grounded in Spirituality” which is expected to be published this summer.  He has also submitted his book “Musings on Career and Faith” for review by a publisher.

Doug Johnston

August 2021 - Robert Sandford

Title: The New Climate War: In the Trenches Over Climate Intervention

Robert Sandford, a noted climate change expert, delivered a talk on “The New Climate War: In the Trenches Over Climate Intervention” to our Probus Club on August 12,2021. Introduced by Bob Weese and thanked by myself, Sandford spoke to us as Canada was consumed by raging forest fires in British Columbia and Northern Ontario, part of a global pattern, with nearly 7000 communities in North America in June 2021 recording record temperatures. Sandford told us that his own community of Canmore, Alberta was so dry that it was only a lightening strike away from an evacuation alert.
The theme of the talk was “learning from the burning". The general dimensions of the Climate change crisis are probably  well known to the Club as we have had several speakers on the topic but Sandford stressed a particular Canadian aspect that is not widely recognized: as the permafrost  melts in the Arctic - and next to Russia we have the most permafrost in the world - vast amounts of methane are released and methane heats the atmosphere  even more than CO2. The Arctic has been a carbon sink, now it is a carbon multiplier.
As humankind has not had the will to make the necessary changes, many hope for technological breakthroughs like Solar GeoEngineering , but Sandford warned there may be many unintended consequences of such interventions. Sandford recognized, as he told the Club, that such doom and gloom scenarios turn off many, but he felt it was his responsibility  to tell the truth about the science even if it was so difficult to comprehend.

He said not to give up on the fight against Climate change but his talk showed how long the odds are in winning the battle.

Tom Axworthy

June 2021 - The Honourable Frank Iacobucci C.C. Q.C.

Title: Canada and Indigenous People:  Toward a New Relationship

Our speaker this month was The Honourable Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci. Justice Iacobucci lead a distinguished career as a legal academic, member and chair of several commissions and enquiries and as a member of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1991 to 2004.

In these roles he was known for his concern over disadvantaged persons and civil rights with a particular emphasis on Indigenous matters. He was the Federal government’s key representative in negotiating the landmark Residential School Settlement and in establishing and selecting the commissioners to lead the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission.

He started by stating that resolving our society’s relationship with its indigenous peoples is the most important social issue our country faces. Until we can address the third world conditions and widespread injustices our indigenous peoples continue to face, we will never be able to hold ourselves up as a moral society. His very interesting presentation provided the historical and legal background as a means to “diagnose the past in order to develop a better prescription for the future”.

He identified six principles we need to follow in order to reach a true partnership with our indigenous people based on trust and mutual respect. While not able to pick a date when this might be achieved, he is encouraged by the progress we have made and believes that with continued effort and good will on all sides, we will reach this mutually beneficial partnership in coming generations.

Following his address, he stayed with us to answer a broad range of good questions and was thanked on behalf go the Club by Lloyd Posno.

July 2021 - Tom Flanagan

Title: The Wealth of First Nations

Tom Flanagan is a professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary, and is a conservative activist having worked with Preston Manning and Stephen Harper. He is widely regarded as a spokesman for the interests of Western Canada in Confederation.

He spoke about the contents in his recent book, the WEALTH OF First Nations published in 2019. It is available free online. The book examines the factors which may explain the ‘success’ of some First Nations in terms of the ‘community wellbeing index’ (CWB) as compiled from Stats Canada census data for the past 35 years. It discusses only those who live on Reserves, which is roughly half of the aboriginal people.

There is a significant gap between First Nations communities (i.e. Reserves) and other communities in Canada. This gap has remained fairly constant over the past 35 years. However, some First Nation communities are doing much better than others as measured by the CWB. The book focuses on discovering the differentiating factors.

Tom concluded with a reference to Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nations), in that “First Nations are subject to the same principles of economics and government as all human beings are”. He observed that “active participation in the Canadian economy in whatever way fits the location of that first nation people” is key to the benefits of an improved standard of living.

September 2021 - Hugh Segal

Title: Guaranteed Annual Income - Yes or No?

Hugh Segal, noted political adviser, former Senator, and former head of Massey  College , University  of Toronto,  gave a wide- ranging talk to our Applewood Probus Club on September on September  9, 2021. Introduced by Lloyd Posno, and thanked by Tom Axworthy,  Segal discussed both the recent Afghanistan  calamity and the state of poverty  in Canada, making  connections between the two topics. Poverty, he stated, is the underlying condition of Afghanistan (which he visited during his Senate years) and it is a condition that  the Taliban exploited to return to power.

Canada is not Afghanistan but Segal made the point that according  to a  Statistics Canada report in 2021,  3.7 million Canadians lived below the poverty  line, but unlike many poor societies in the world , Canada has the resources to alleviate  this critical problem if we deploy these resources  properly. Much of Segal's talk was devoted to the solution he highlights in his recent book "Bootstraps Need Boots, namely a Guaranteed  Basic  Income" . This idea has a long pedigree, starting with the conservative  economist Milton Friedman, running through Richard Nixon who proposed such a plan in 1969, to the Pierre Trudeau  government which partnered with Manitoba to create a pilot  program in Dauphin Manitoba  in the 1970s, to our own time with the Ontario Government  of Kathleen Wynne also starting an experimental  program in Hamilton and Brantford in 2017 (which Segal advised on). These experiments show that basic income support  reduces the uses of emergency  rooms by the poor significantly (among other benefits). Segal therefore argued that the $50 billion cost of a national  income program would help the provinces deal with rising health  costs as provincial welfare costs would fall with the federal government taking on poverty  reduction and health usage by the low income would fall. Thought about broadly enough,  Segal maintained, Guaranteed Basic Income support  is also a contribution  to a better sharing of health  costs.

This thesis prompted  many questions  from Probus members about work incentives  and labour shortages, the lessons from the CERB program to respond to the economic  impacts of Covid and the political will to do such a progam (not much Segal admitted). Hugh Segal is one of the leading public intellectuals in Canada and his talk to Probus showed why he is regarded  so highly.

Tom Axworthy

October 2021 - Adam Shoalts

Title: Exploring the Wilds of Canada

The  Applewood Probus Club was treated to a return visit from Mr.  Adam Shoalts .    Mr. Shoalts has been described by CBC as the “greatest living Canadian explorer”.  He is a professional adventurer and the author of four national best selling books.  His career has included mapping rivers, leading expeditions,  numerous archaeological digs, tracking endangered species and completing a nearly 4,000 mile solo journey across the Canadian Artic.  He grew up in rural Canada with a forest on his doorstep.   Mr Shoalts  graduated from Brock University with an Honours BA, after being named top student in the humanities .  He subsequently completed a Master’s degree and a PhD at McMaster University.  He is a regular guest on TV and radio, and his work has been featured in media around the world.

He has been named a national champion of the Trans Canada Trail  and  the 2018 Explore in Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society

After being ably introduced by our well- know member of the speakers committee Reg Perkin, Mr. Shoalts spoke on his most recent adventures in Labrador, highlighted in his most recent book entitled “The Whisperer on the Night Wind”.  

In the early 1900’s an isolated little settlement  in Labrador was the scene of an extraordinary haunting by  large creatures no one could identify.  The eye -witness accounts were often detailed by highly credible individuals .   Something did emerge from the wilderness to  haunt this little sentiment.  Adam decided to pick up this trail from a century ago and presented his experiences in his presentation.

His speech, (and his latest book), combines folklore, expanding on his experiences during his time in Labrador.

November 2021 - Matthew Wilkinson

Title: WW11 and its effect on Mississauga

Our speaker on Thursday, November 11th, was Matthew Wilkinson, Historian/Lecturer, City of Mississauga.
Matthew told the story of WW11 and its effect on Mississauga and Peel Region.

It  was  a   reflective  and thoughtful presentation and  a tribute  not only  to  our  faithful  veterans  but  to also the dedication of many civilian  citizens  working  in  manufacturing  facilities in Mississauga (then  Toronto Township) contributing to Canada’s  war  effort.

In conclusion Matthew reminded us that freedom should be remembered each and every day and not taken for granted.

Jack Doney
Past Speakers