History of Horses in Canada

6 Thursdays beginning January 9, 2020 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm

Lecturer: Joanna Dean

What was it really like to share city streets with animals that weighed half a ton and did not always do as they were told? The number of horses in Canadian cities skyrocketed in the late 1800s, when they pulled buggies, hauled carts and streetcars, and powered treadmills, lifts, and brick machines. In 1891, Ottawa had one horse for every 18 people. In this lecture, I will tell stories from the archives about the mishaps, cruelty and muck of a multispecies city. I will explain what horse manure had to do with the spread of tetanus, or lockjaw, and how an ungainly little horse called Brick Top helped Canadians overcome this dread disease during the First World War.


  1. Horses introduced to N. America
  2. Horse Power
  3. Urban Horses
  4. Horses and Tetanus
  5. Horse Doctors
  6. Horse Welfare

Ancient Greeks Behaving Badly

Ancient Greeks Behaving Badly

6 Tuesdays, beginning January 7, 2020 from 1:30 ~ 3:30 pm

Heather Loube, who introduced us to flying pigs and other creatures in ancient Greek life, has turned her attention to ‘Ancient Greeks Behaving Badly’. ‘Digging the dirt’ on the ancients through their art, artefacts, history, mythology and religion, she has uncovered tabloid-worthy misbehaviors. Amongst them are lust, anger, treachery, revenge and even cannibalism, stuff you likely didn’t learn about in school. In the end, badly behaved ancient Greeks had a sometimes-surprising influence on contemporary society.


  1. Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll
  2. Cannibalism
  3. Lust
  4. Wrath
  5. Greed, Gluttony and Excess
  6. Historical Bad Behaviour


For the Love of Math

6 Tuesdays beginning February 25, 2020 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm

Regrettably the last three classes for this course have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lecturer: Heather Douglas

Math is a beautiful thing.  According to Galileo, the universe is written in the language of math.  And what a language it is. From 35,000 year-old tally marks, to abacus books, to the numbers you tap on your keyboard – we’ve been using math for millennia to keep track of daily life and to make sense of patterns in our complex world.  But people have a funny relationship with math, and some even ask ‘Does math matter?’ I say an unequivocal yes!  Did you know that your number skills when you’re 7 years old will predict your financial success 35 years later regardless of your parent’s financial status? Math definitely matters.

Join us as we explore this rich and fascinating topic.  Over the course of six lectures we’ll follow the history of math symbols from notches on counting sticks to the complex symbol system we use today.  We’ll bust some common math myths – for example, boys are not better at math than girls and there is no such thing as a “math brain.” We will see what studies of the human brain can tell us about how we [process?] make sense of math.  And we’ll answer some interesting questions:  How does culture influence math learning?   What can parents do to set their children up for math success?  What’s the story on math anxiety?

Using a broad base of research (neuroscience, psychology, education, cognitive science), in-class demonstrations, and hands-on learning activities – the lectures aim to engage and enlighten. Be curious!  No math skills required.


  1. Math and the Brain
  2. How we learn math
  3. Math and Culture