History on the Hoof

Friday, 29 April 2022 via Zoom

Speaker: Claudia Smith

Lecture Summary:

In this lecture farm life with horse power will come alive as I talk about my latest book — Horses of the Country  An Homage. The book is a comprehensive account  of our rural history with horses, much of which I gathered from around farm kitchen tables, research and experience. 

The lecture will be a horse blanket of folklore, feisty horses, toil and adventures – from the earliest horses of the pioneering days of eastern Ontario and the Canadian horse to the heavy horse partners on farms and the light horses going to mill and market. I will share local stories about toll gates, stage coaches, the custom of “blowing the anvil,” and selling horse hair as well as information about horse drawn hearses, blacksmiths and the bonds between children and horses. 

Memories of farming days past will gallop back or light will be shed on your ancestors’ lives when horses were indispensable.

Bio: Claudia Smith:

Horses have been an important part of my life and over the past 35 years, as I have been gathering oral rural history in Lanark County, any mention of horses was quickly noted down. I have documented  the colour of rural life in several hundred articles published in The Lanark Era and in eight books that include When the Sugar Bird Sings ~ A History of Maple Sugar Making in Lanark CountyGypsies, Preachers and Big White Bears ~ One Hundred Years on Country Roads; and Barns ~ A Reflection of Changing Times. I am a resident of Almonte.

Why the Best Person Rarely Wins

Friday, 25 March 2022 via Zoom

Speaker: Warren Thorngate

Lecture Summary:

Contests are popular means of deciding who will receive medals, cash prizes, jobs, scholarships, attention, emergency care, and other limited resources. Most of us assume that fair contests assure “the best person wins.” I will demonstrate why this assumption is frequently false – more so as contests evolve. I will illustrate how contest evolution breeds corruption and harm, then speculate how contests can be improved by changing the rules of their game.

Bio: Warren Thorngate:


Warren Thorngate is an emeritus professor of psychology who spent his career studying and teaching human decision making, problem solving, social influence, motivation and research methods. He taught for many years at the University of Alberta, then at Carleton University, and served as a visiting professor at several universities in the US, UK and Australia, Poland, Germany, and Iran. He is a proud resident of Almonte.

Too Many Children and Families Left Behind

Friday, 25 February 2022 via Zoom

Speaker: Johanna Filp-Hanke

Lecture Summary:

Improving the lives of children and families who live in poverty has been my life-long aspiration. Brain research tells us that early childhood experiences and poverty affect lifelong health and learning. According to UNICEF, in almost half of all rich countries, more than one in five children live in poverty. A variety of early childhood care and education programs exist to mitigate the negative effects of poverty. Some successful programs are center based; others include active family involvement.  I will describe the “Proyecto Padres e Hijos,” which my colleagues and I designed and implemented in poor rural communities in Chile during the early years of the military dictatorship. We were inspired by Paulo Freire’s ideas about education, summarized in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire argued for openness, humility, tolerance, attentiveness, rigor and political commitment in education. Themes of love and hope figure prominently in his work. As educators we were transformed by our project experience. The lessons learned provide insights into how we can support families and children from different cultural backgrounds, including immigrant families and children of marginalized communities.

Bio: Johanna Filp-Hanke:


I grew up in Chile, and began studying Psychology at the Catholic University there, moving to Vancouver at the age of 21. I continued my education at the University of British Columbia, receiving B.A. and M.A. degrees in Psychology there. Many years later, I earned a Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Freiburg in Germany. In 1994 I became a Guggenheim Fellow. My professional experience includes 20 years of work in Chile and 23 years in California. In Chile I worked at the Center for Research and Development in Education (C.I.D.E.), a nonprofit progressive think tank, conducting research and developing programs to improve the quality of early education in poor communities. In 1996 I joined the Faculty of Early Childhood Studies at Sonoma State University  where I taught immigrant and first-generation college students, preparing them to work with young children and their families. I’m now a Professor Emeritus, having retired two years ago.