Celebrating 20 years of Lifelong Learning in the Georgian Triangle:
In October of 1995 over 100 individuals met in the Collingwood Library. At that meeting, 37 founding families donated $50 each to create an organization that would provide opportunities for lifelong learning in the greater Collingwood community. The organization was originally affiliated with the Elderhostel Institute Network and was patterned on “Living and Learning in Retirement” which was established in 1973 at Glendon College in Toronto.
In September 1996, the first lecture was held at the Collingwood Campus of Georgian College at 49 Huron St. 110 individuals registered for the 4 lecture Fall Course which featured Professor M. Vander Woude on the historical foundations of Jazz. The cost was a modest $5.00 membership fee and $5.00 per lecture. The GTLLI offered three courses that year in the Fall, Winter and Spring with 6, 4, and 4 lectures per course, respectively. Since those formative years, the GTLLI has continued to grow in membership and in its program offerings. The GTLLI now offers one Course of 3 lectures in September and 3 Lecture courses in the fall, winter and spring consisting of 6 lectures each. In addition, it offers 2-3 small-attendance Seminars on a variety of topics throughout the year. It is noteworthy that since 1996, the cost of membership and the cost per lecture have increased by only $1.00.
Membership now stands at 591 and 420 seats are regularly sold out to all lectures. To accommodate these numbers the GTLLI has moved to The New Life Church where lectures are held on Friday mornings from 10am until noon.
Lectures have covered a wide range of topics. In the past the GTLLI has hosted speakers on Archeology, Music, Economics, the Law, Architecture, Art, Ethical Issues, History, Astronomy, Politics, Health, Genetically Modified Foods, Geology, Religion, Urban Planning, Aging, Aboriginal Issues, the Arctic, Canadian Writers, The Charter of Rights, the Middle East, Journalism and many others.
To acknowledge the contribution made by the original Founders back in 1995/96, the GTLLI now offers, on a semi-regular basis, a Founders’ Lecture. These lectures are offered not only to the membership but to the community as a whole and usually have an attendance of well over 500. The inaugural speaker was Stephen Lewis in 2004. Other past speakers include Bob Rae, Janice Stein, Paul Heinbecker and Margaret MacMillan just to mention a few.
The GTLLI membership is primarily based in Collingwood but comes from as far as Shelburne, Elmvale, Midhurst, Markdale, Creemore, the Mulmur Hills and Tiny Township. The GTLLI is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization proud to serve the Georgian Bay Triangle and to encourage lifelong learning. Furthermore, the GTLLI is a member of the Third Age Network - an association of over 25 similar Lifelong Learning Organizations in Ontario.