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HomeEventsEsther Birney Series on Zoom - Fall 2020

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Esther Birney Series on Zoom - Fall 2020

Esther Birney Series on Zoom*
Topics for September to December 2020
Thursdays, 10:30am-11:45am (except Sep. 17 when the session begins at 9:30 am.)

*Members, to register for this series, please click the "Register Now" button on the right-hand side of this screen. BevAnn will contact you by email the day before each scheduled session with the process for connecting via Zoom. Thank you. 

Note: If you don't have access to the Zoom application on a computer, tablet or smart phone, Zoom presentations are also available by dialing in using a landline or cellphone. On the day and time of the course, call 778-907-2071 (within Metro Vancouver) and enter the Meeting ID and Passcode that were given after registering for the course. If you live outside of metro Vancouver, please look up the local phone number for your locationat (The calls are muted when you join the meeting, to unmute yourself, please press *6 (as per instructions on the phone). 

Join us for this well-curated literary arts series including intriguing topics given by knowledgeable presenters. 
  • September 17 - Dr. John LeBlanc – Great Expectations (film showing at 9:30; discussion at 11:30.)

Join Dr. LeBlanc for a talk on and showing of David Lean's 1946 film version of Charles Dickens Great Expectations (1861), starring Sir John Mills. The film is now regarded as one of Lean's best; in 1999, on the British Film Institute's Top 100 British films list, Great Expectations was named the 5th greatest British film of all time.

Dr. Leblanc is a UBC professor emeritus.

Unfortunately, the film cannot be shown via Zoom. Please arrange to watch the film before or after the session and join the session at 11:25am for a discussion of the film. The 1946 version of Great Expectations can be viewed on the internet via Youtube, or on Amazon Prime (if you are a subscriber).

  • October 1 – Dr. Philip Resnick – Itineraries: An Intellectual Odyssey

In this memoir Dr. Resnick (UBC professor emeritus) focuses on “a number of influences and currents that have shaped his intellectual life. It begins with his early years, growing up Jewish in Montreal and his subsequent break with organized religion. This is followed by his encounters with nationalism – Québécois, Canadian, and that of a number of other states with majority and minority nationalities within their borders. There is an ongoing commitment to and series of reflections on socialism and on the left. How poetry became his second calling is crucial in his intellectual development. He explores the challenges to democracy and its evolving fortunes from antiquity to our own day.” –

  • October 8 - John Napier-Hemy – Evacuee: Growing Up In Victoria

Brock House member John Napier-Hemy will give a talk on his recent publication.

“This is a great read. It is a vivid and engaging depiction of a child and his mother torn from home after home, a child whose parents live a cold war with each other and how their lives all change when John, his sister Elizabeth and his mother move in 1940 from England back to Victoria, BC, to live in Admirals House.

Young John gives us a child's innocent view of both historical and intimate details of the life of a war-child. He struggles to make sense of the vast struggles between good and evil and the changes brought to his life, to his friends at school and to his sense of how it is happening all around him. These changes are reflected in the things he worries about, the kinds of war games he and his friends create, and the growing tensions between his parents.” - Louise Doyle

  • October 15 - Lillian Boraks-Nemetz* - Mouth of Truth: Buried Secrets

*Lillian will be presenting on Zoom, the Halpern Room will be a projection of this presentation.
Lillian Boraks-Nemetz started writing about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor to heal her pain.

“’My childhood was grisly. It was good up until age five and then everything changed that one day when Germany invaded Poland and then it got progressively worse,’ she told CBC host of North By Northwest, Sheryl MacKay. Boraks-Nemetz escaped the Warsaw ghetto as a young child and, for the remainder of the war, hid with a false identity in the countryside.

In her latest book, a fictionalized autobiography, the protagonist discovers a rumour about her father and his time in the Jewish police force in the ghetto. It leads to a journey to find answers to a betrayal by her father's friend, the death of her younger sister and events her family had been quiet about for years.” -

  • October 29 – Enda Bardell - Innocence in a Turbulent World

Ms Bardell’s heartfelt memoir, with simple illustrations, tells us the story of a young girl's early childhood in rural Estonia before she was forced to flee her country after the events of WWII. Honest and down-to-earth, the narrative captures a child's perspective of both the simple joy of living off the land and the incomprehensible horror of being torn apart by a conflict she could not understand.

Ms. Bardell is n
ow a visual artist living in Vancouver, she has had the honour of being invited to show her abstract work in the Estonian Art in Exile exhibition at the National Museum of Art (KUMU).

  • November 5 - Trevor Marc Hughes Riding the Continent

Trevor Marc Hughes is a journalist, an author, writer, documentary filmmaker and dad to two great boys. He is the editor of Riding the Continent and will give an illustrated talk on British Columbia's first environmentalist, Hamilton Mack Laing. Laing “was an illustrious early British Columbian writer and naturalist, but few know him as how he described himself in his mid-thirties: a motorcycle-naturalist. In 1915, he made one of the first transcontinental journeys, riding across the United States from Brooklyn to Oakland. His previously unpublished manuscript of this journey, hidden away for nearly a century, is available now for the first time. Riding the Continent tells the story of a pioneering motorcyclist and independently thinking naturalist on a most unusual road trip. Laing’s tale explores the beauty of North America’s bird life, describes the sights, scenery and people he encountered, and takes us along for the ride on a 1915 Harley-Davidson he named Barking Betsy”. - TMH

  • November 12 - David Webb – “Nationalism Through the Life and Work of Dylan Thomas”

David Webb is the past president of The Dylan Thomas Circle of Vancouver. His presentation is a low-key investigation of nationalism through the work and the life of Dylan Thomas, especially in the light of the ancient Welsh language tradition of the nation organically and universally, as it were, manifesting ‘A Bard’. In this case, the forces that create this artistic/cultural/mythological phenomenon seem to have played an eye-opening joke on us: They have manifested a bard that although influenced by and steeped through both osmosis and through exposure to Welsh culture, nevertheless, wrote in English.

  • November 19 - Geoff Mynett - Service on the Skeena: Horace Wrinch, Frontier Physician

Geoff will be talking about his biography of Dr. Horace Wrinch, who went up to Hazelton on the Skeena River in 1900 as a medical missionary. The first resident doctor in the district, Dr. Wrinch built the first hospital in the northern interior. Wrinch was a doctor and surgeon, Methodist minister, hospital builder, founder of a nursing school, farmer, magistrate, mining entrepreneur, community leader and active in the BC Hospital Association he helped found in 1918.  In the 1920s, when he was the MLA for Skeena, he was a champion for public health insurance, a move that led to Canada’s first public insurance legislation in 1936.

Geoff qualified as a Barrister in the UK and, after emigration in 1973, as a Barrister and Solicitor in British Columbia. He was in-house counsel for over twenty-five years.  Married, with two sons. Retired. Artist. Reader. Lives in Dunbar. He has been a member of Brock House for several years and participates in the Brock House Art Group. 

  • December 3 – Dr. Nilofar ShidmehrDivided Loyalties

Dr. Shidmehr will read from her book Divided Loyalties and talk and answer questions about her journey from Iran to Canada as a bilingual writer, literary translator and educator.

She is an Iranian Canadian poet, writer and a scholar of arts-based qualitative research focused on poetic inquiry. Her first book of poetry in English Shirin and Salt Man was nominated for a BC Book Prize in 2009 and her first book of poetry in Farsi Two Nilofars: Before and After Migration has received worldwide recognition among the expatriate Iranian community.

Dr. Shidmehr is a cultural and educational activist and a part of the Iranian women’s movement. She teaches in the Liberal Arts Program and Adults 55+ Programs at SFU.


Did you want to join this series at Brock House instead? You must register for each of the upcoming topics. If you are interested, please call the office at 604-228-1461. Thank you. Please go to the In House Programs page to view what's available in person at Brock House.
Thursday, September 17, 2020, 10:30 AM until 11:45 AM
Online via Zoom

Registration is required
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