There are no old people anymore! Only seniors. According to the Tantramar Seniors College, being a senior starts at age 50.
It was started about ten years ago by Dr. John Read, a retired professor at Mount Allison University. Another former professor, retired in Amherst (the late Neville Ralph) quickly organized a branch for the Amherst area. Then the program spread to the Shediac and Moncton areas.
It is not a college, really. No campus. No buildings. There are no tests, examinations or marks. Rather, the organization provides opportunities for persons of any age (but mostly seniors ) to share their knowledge , skills, hobbies or experiences with seniors from age 50 upward. There is no upper limit. All courses are intended to be and usually are interesting and enjoyable, offered in a relaxed, friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
A course may consist of a single session of an hour or two or a series of sessions lasting several weeks and anything in between.
Most courses are taught in classrooms, which can be a church hall, a library, somebody's home or office or at the Amherst Campus of the N.S.C.C. Other courses are outdoors, such as tennis, snow-shoeing, cycling, cross- country skiing or one of many nature tours offered by Ken and Etta Adams.
Even though the Tantramar Seniors College is operated by a volunteer board of directors, with four local boards of volunteer organizers and course planners, there are some expenses. It is a non-profit charitable organization with a paid staff person. Therefore, to cover costs, a membership is necessary.
For an annual fee of $120, a person is able to take an unlimited number of courses for all three semesters or terms in year. Taking the four locations together, as many as 220 courses may be offered in any one year.
Last year, the approximately 400 members registered for a total of 3187 courses. Hundreds of courses have been offered over the last ten years. Here are some examples: beginners iPad, drawing, end of life decisions, gardening, bowling, taste of Romania, travel tales, ukulele for beginners, knitting, health and life styles, opera appreciation, introduction to western art, French for beginners, playing bridge and many, many more.
I have to brag a little now. I was recruited by Dr. Read right at the start. For several years, l offered an eight-week series of lectures entitled "Of Legal Interest." Together with two friends we offered a "home fermentation course" on wine. For three years I offered a course on the history Beaubassin, as well as a two-session lecture entitled "A Question of Law."
Last fall, I presented a course on the history of the Chignecto Marine Railway, which included a tour of the site of the western terminal at Fort Lawrence, with the help of our MP Bill Casey. I expect to repeat that presentation this fall. A lecture on the Eddy Rebellion, which I am researching now, will be next. I have also lectured on local historical figures, such as Sir Charles Tupper and Amos "King" Seaman.
Needless to say, I have also taken advantage of many courses that have been offered over the years. During the present term, there were 11 courses offered in Amherst and many more in the other three districts.
All of this sounds like a big advertisement or promotion for the senior’s college. That is not my primary intent. I am not a board member or on its PR Committee. Rather, I wish to share my belief that this is one of the best things that has happened for us senior folks in our area in a long time.
Therefore, the main purpose of this article is make more people aware of the availability of this program and its benefits. In my opinion, there are a lot of people missing out. Out of all the thousands of seniors who qualify, the annual enrolment figures should be four times higher- or more than that. Is the small fee a barrier? I doubt it. Is there a misconception that only "smart and highly educated " seniors are welcome? Does the word "college" frighten some people? It should not.
I truly hope that this article will stir up some interest, not only to take courses, but also volunteer to present courses . I believe that there is a huge potential of interesting people out there who are able and willing to part with their knowledge and skills or experiences. There is no pay, of course. Only the satisfaction of sharing.
Bottom line: if you are interested in continued learning through this particular program or interested in sharing, please contact the Tantramar Seniors College by these methods:firstname.lastname@example.org; 506-364-2780. The web site is: www.tantramarseniorscollege.ca. It costs nothing to inquire and request to be placed on the mailing list to receive the newsletter on the courses being offered and when and where registration takes place. Only when you register to take one or more courses does the annual fee have to be paid.
Morris Haugg is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel