ONTARIO ALUMNI DINNER — Friday, October 26, 2012

This year marked the tenth consecutive year that we have held a dinner, something of an achievement in TCD Ontario Alumni annals. It was also marked by one of the better turnouts in recent years and by an engaging speaker with a good story.

The reception preceding the dinner started slowly as the traffic in and around Toronto, which is always bad, was particularly bad on the night. However, things warmed up as the attendees arrived and the dinner got underway only slightly late.

In the introduction, John Payne, mentioned that Les Colhoun has not been well this last year, Les was the driving force in originally setting up the group many years ago as well as being a great benefactor to the college, The alumni group sends its best for a speedy recovery.

The committee, contrary to all democratic procedures, has remained the same for the last 10 years and has never actually had a formal face-to-face meeting. However, they have been responsible for the organization of the dinner, each playing a role including chasing up, cajoling and perhaps embarrassing alumni to attend. Thanks are due to John Cary for handling all the detailed arrangements with the National Club and to Bill McConnell and Bruce Buttimore for help with the general organization.

This year we had a reception at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club for Professor Jane Olhmeyer, TCD's Vice-Provost for Global Relations. She presented a very interesting, frank and refreshing picture of Trinity's place in the academic world where it has recognized prominence in some areas and requires a boost in others.

The Alumni office was behind Jane's visit and the office has been showing great interest in our activities and providing increasing help and support. During a visit to Dublin in May, John Payne met the new Alumni Relations Manager, Aoife Keogh, and discussed a variety of ideas to increase our profile and membership. The main outcome was a recruitment drive targeted at new graduates arriving in Ontario. The Alumni Office let them know of our existence and since then we have had a number of enquiries. It would seem that there are many graduates in Toronto who don't know of our group. The objective is to develop a more comprehensive list of current names to contact about our activities.

The members also benefit from our participation in the International University Clubs of Toronto (IUCT), which is coordinated by Bruce Buttimore. This provides us with access to a wide variety of events and networking opportunities. The most recent one coming up is the US Presidential Debate on November 1, details of which can be found on our website.

The toast to Canada was then given by John Payne, followed by an entertaining toast to Ireland by Les Morrow. Ray Wiley was again volunteered to say the grace before we all sat down to a fine lamb dinner. The meal was concluded with the second grace said by Ray Wiley and by a heartfelt toast to Trinity by Hilary Whyte.

Breaking from the format of preceding years, the floor was handed over to Doug Saunders to introduce his brother, Geoff, who was the guest speaker for the evening. Geoff graduated from Trinity with a first in maths and Doug described his brother's very interesting and very well travelled life, commenting that no one knows what he really does. However, we did discover one thing. He wrote a book recently that received attention, including an interview on BBC Radio 4. It is titled "Reports from Coastal Stations" and describes his journeys to all the coastal stations in the British Isles that provide the weather reports broadcast by the BBC and are so familiar to many of us.

In his illustrated talk Geoff chose four of the stations, Valentia in southwestern Ireland. Ronaldsway in the Isle of Man, Malin Head in Northern Ireland and Scilly at the southwestern end of England. For each he provided some history, some science about weather forecasting and some anecdotes about his journey and the people he met. From Valentia we learned something about weather balloons, phenological gardens involving weather sequencing and gardening dates, as well as the trans-Atlantic cable. At Ronaldsway we heard about the train in the Isle of Man, Fletcher Christian's (of the Mutiny on the Bounty) house and the similarity between the Manx language and Gaelic. At Main Head we saw a sun meter still in use and in Scilly an old Riley car offering tourist trips. It was all very interesting and absorbing as evidenced by the large number and variety of questions at the end.

The evening ended with a thank you by John Payne and the presentation of a book to Geoff about Captain Fitzroy and the weather forecast, as well as the 2013 Canadian Weather Trivia Calendar. We now hope to hear the forecast - Trinity, good visibility, winds steady, barometer rising.