PROBUS Club of Durham West


TED BARRIS – Rush to Danger:  Medics in the Line of Fire

Lost in the WWII story of the Battle of the Bulge lay an account of sacrifice and survival that took historian Ted Barris nearly a lifetime to discover ‑ the story of his own father

Throughout the winter of 1945, sergeant medic Alex Barris waged a battle night and day to save lives in the middle of the bloodiest campaign the US Army faced during the liberation of Europe.  But the author’s pursuit of his father’s story revealed an even greater challenge – learning what it was that motivates military medics surgeons, nursing sisters, stretcher-bearers, orderlies, and ambulance drivers to disregard their own well-being to save the lives of others on the battlefield.

Ted Barris is an award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster. His writing has regularly appeared in the national press, as well as magazines as diverse as Air Force, esprit de corps and Zoomer. He has also worked as a host/contributor for most CBC Radio network programs, PBS in the U.S. and on TV Ontario. After 18 years of teaching, he recently retired as a full-time professor of journalism at Toronto's Centennial College. Barris is the author of 20 bestselling, non-fiction books, including a series on wartime Canada

September 2023 Speaker:  Diane Depuy - President and Founder of Famous People Players

The FPP theatrical troupe was inspired by Diane Dupuy’s childhood experiences. Bullied and misunderstood at school, she failed three grades because of social and learning difficulties due to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To lift her spirits, her mother made puppets for her and encouraged her to put on shows in the neighbourhood. These led to summer stints at the Canadian National Exhibition.

After performing at the Surrey Place Centre for Mental Retardation (now the Surrey Place Centre) in Toronto, Diane was inspired by the children’s supportive natures. She decided to create a black light theatre company for people with disabilities so the players would remain invisible and therefore be judged solely on their performance. (Black light theatre is performed in the dark by people dressed in black who manipulate puppets in fluorescent colours.) 

For more details and history of FPP go to

August 2023 Speaker:  Keisha Telfer - Navigating the Home Downsizing Journey

Keisha Telfer, is a licensed and experienced Real Estate Broker who specializes in making home downsizing stress-free and easy. As an Accredited Senior Agent, Keisha is specially trained to work with clients who are 55 and older.

Keisha co-founded Transitions Realty where she and her team of downsizing experts prepare and implement an easy plan for decluttering and selling your house and finding you a new home in a community that is right for you both now and in the future.

Keisha holds a Master's degree in Construction Project Management from the University of Greenwich in London, United Kingdom. 

July 2023 Speaker:  Elaine Charal - Power of the Pen

Elaine has been a Professional Speaker for over ten years and has done "The Power of the Pen" for large, medium and small groups. Elaine is a Certified Handwriting Analyst who helps companies with their hiring decisions based on the Candidates' handwriting reports. She markets "Callirobics," a handwriting exercises kit that combines music and graphics to help children and adults with fine motor control skills and writing. Elaine has appeared on CBC's Steve & Chris Show, the Mike Bullard Show, Breakfast Television in Toronto and Edmonton, Canada AM, Global News at Noon, CHCH News at Noon, "Always Good News" with Connie Smith, Ed the Sock, CTV News at Noon in Kitchener and Edmonton, "Urban Rush" in Vancouver, CFRB's Ted Woloshyn Show, CBC's "Fresh Air," CFRB's Jerry Agar show, CHCH’s “Dateline,” and many more.

June 2023 Speaker:  Lynda Quirino:  Founder and Executive Director of the Georgina Paranormal Society

Our guest speaker this month is Lynda Quirino the founder and Executive Director of the Georgina Paranormal Society. Lynda also appears on the television show Paranormal Survivor" as one of its Paranormal "Experts".

Her presentation will discuss the several types of ghosts and hauntings, from "orbs" to "mists", and why ghosts may linger in a certain location. With pictures to illustrate the distinct types of ghosts and apparitions gleaned from actual investigations and haunted locations, along with eerie recordings of "electronic voice phenomena" and spirit box captures, this presentation will have you wondering if those creaks and scratches are more than simple house settling noises!

May 2023 Speaker:  Dr. Sharon Cohen - Alzheimer Research and Toronto Memory Program

Dr. Sharon Cohen is a behavioural neurologist known for her excellence in patient care, teaching, and clinical research. She completed her neurology residency and behavioural neurology fellowship at the University of Toronto. She is the medical director and site principal investigator of Toronto Memory Program, a community-based medical facility which she established in 1996 for the purpose of enhancing diagnosis, medical care, and therapeutic options for individuals with, or at risk for, Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

Dr. Cohen has over 28 years of experience in clinical research and has been a site PI for over 160 pharmacological trials. In addition to her focus on Alzheimer’s disease, she has also participated in pharmacological trials for acute stroke, fronto-temporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Lewy body disease, Huntington’s disease, and vascular dementia. Under her direction, her research site has become a recognized “go to” centre for Alzheimer’s trials and has been awarded for superior performance and quality in clinical research.

Dr. Cohen represents Canada on international advisory boards and steering committees and is a consultant to a wide range of stakeholders in dementia, including government organizations and patient advocacy groups. She is a frequent lecturer and contributes to media events including those on medical ethics. She is known for her advocacy of individuals with neurodegenerative diseases. Despite holding academic and hospital appointments, Dr. Cohen chooses to practice in the community, in keeping with her belief that dementia care and clinical research are best offered in the real world setting.

April 2023 Speaker:  Prof. Mark Rector:  "OH CANADA"! Our home and Inventive Land

A widely acclaimed public speaker, and author of the smash best-selling book "OH CANADA! Our Home and Inventive Land!" now in its fourth printing with thousands of copies sold and in 65 stores and museums across the country!

A passionate, entertaining and gifted presenter with an ability to hold an audience and bring stories and anecdotes from across this land to life in a fun and engaging way. Mark retired as a Professor and former program co-ordinator in 2019 and was well liked by many students and highly rated in written reviews by thousands of students for 19 years in college classrooms. He has published numerous technical articles, contributed to a nationally published text book, and his first book published in Aug 2018 is already in its 4th printing!! See his website for locations to get your copy at a store near you or book a speaking gig!

A former 16 year veteran of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force, his experience was in a mission critical, public safety, land mobile radio environment where he was responsible for maintenance, installation, repair and system integration of several large scale 9-1-1 trunking and conventional voice and data radio systems from numerous manufacturers including Motorola, GE, Ericson, and MDI. Other experience included Public Safety training video production and classroom training of public safety personnel.

March 2023 Speaker:  Rev. Susan Sheen:  Lions Foundation of Canada Guide Dogs

A former teacher and retired Anglican Minister Susan Sheen has been fostering service puppies for the Lions Foundation Guide Dogs for over 10 years. She is seen above with her 11th poodle puppy Kaden. 

Zaide pictured on the right recently went off to guide dog University in the hearing program. 

Rev. Sheen has been an ordained Anglican priest for the past 33 years.  Before retirement, she taught French, English, and History at Cartwright High School in Blackstock, Ontario.

For most of her life, Susan has been a member of Girl Guides, including presently with the Trefoil Guild. Her many interests encompass canoeing, gardening, reading, travelling, and dogs.

Susan holds a degree in Modern Languages and Literature from the University of Toronto.

February 2023 Speaker:  Dr. Tommie Sue Montgomery:  Empire of the Sun:  The Incas

Dr. Tommie Sue Montgomery is the author of three books on El Salvador, editor of books on Mexico and peacekeeping in Latin America, and has written widely for academic and popular publications.

She has lectured at more than 60 colleges and universities in the western hemisphere and has served as a consultant to USAID and the UN. Since 2005 she has been an enrichment lecturer on over fifteen Holland America cruises in Latin America. Since 2017 she has provided expert witness declarations and testimony on country conditions for Salvadorans and Guatemalans seeking asylum in the United States and Great Britain.

She will explore the mysteries of coastal Peru’s earliest civilizations. The Inca Empire was the largest in pre-Columbian America. The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the 13th Century. Dr. Montgomery will take us back for an educational look into the past.

January 2023  Speaker:  Lianne Harris – Undressed, A Short History of Hygiene

In this lively, visual presentation, Lianne Harris scrubs away the surface of what we might think of as hygiene – soap and water – to the essential reality of survival in former less-than-sanitary conditions. From quirky personal practices to religious instruction to political intervention, to our perception of smell and its medical significance, it all comes out in the wash. Come, and soak up a short history of hygiene.

For a summary of our 2022 Speakers Click Here

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