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Wednesday Talk: February 14, 2024, 2-4 pm – in-person and on Zoom

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February 14 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Speaker: John Gardner, author

Title: “Capturing the Camino de Santiago: A Pilgrim’s Journey through the Ages”

Abstract: Over his lifetime John has engaged continuously in his favourite activity: trekking long distances in the mountains of New England, the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Dolomites and Corsica, often accompanied by family and friends. As the years caught up with him he turned his attention to the ancient Spanish pilgrims’ routes, the Caminos de Santiago, which lead to the burial site of the Apostle James. He has arrived as a pilgrim in Santiago de Compostela’s cathedral five times after having walked various routes across France and Spain. He recently published a family memoir, an account of his time on the route that follows along south of Spain’s Cantabrian mountains. His talk will be derived from this book.

Bio: John Gardner is the retired President of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada and an inveterate walker. He graduated from the University of Toronto Schools (1955) as that year’s top scholar, winning the Prince of Wales Scholarship and several others on entrance to the University of Toronto. Standing first in all four years of the Honours Mathematics and Physics program, he received his B.A. degree (1959). He followed up with several years at Oxford University, where he obtained a second B.A. degree (1961) and an M.A. degree (1965). Back in Canada he joined Sun Life of Canada and earned his fellowship in the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (1965). On a part-time basis, he taught theory of interest and life contingencies at McGill University (1967-1973). His thirty-five-year Sun Life career saw him engaged in a variety of capacities until he retired (1996) after serving for ten years as President of the world-wide company. John has been active over the years in the governance of higher education in Ontario, serving on the University of Toronto’s Governing Council and as Chair of its Business Board for eight years, after which he chaired for twenty years the Board of the Fields Institute for Research in the Mathematical Sciences. Following retirement John remained active as a consultant and in a governance capacity with commercial enterprises and not-for-profit institutions. Among the former were two Canadian life insurance companies and one in the Philippines. He was also involved with a firm that developed and marketed analytical software and another that served as a real estate investment trust. In the not-for-profit sector he has served on the boards of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario, Sunnybrook Hospital and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

John met his wife Encarnita in Spain where they were married sixty years ago. Their relationship developed in him a strong interest in the language, culture and history of his wife’s country of upbringing. He became fluent in Spanish. Encarnita was instrumental in preparing this presentation and appears frequently in the material you will see. She was a teacher, published poet, artist and actress, who earned in mid-life her doctorate at the U of T.

The link to register is  https://forms.office.com/r/MqyMKG9mQA

The deadline to register is the Monday morning the day of the event at 8 am. The Zoom link will be sent to registrants only.


February 14
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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