A Brief History

The two founders were David Farquharson and Wilf Pilsworth. Wilf's brother gave him the idea based on a similar organization in Etobicoke (Toronto). At the time, Wilf participated in the activities of a group called "Speakout" in Kanata. The members of the group, all seniors, gave talks on subjects of personal interest. From this experience, and that of his brother, Wilf concluded that seniors would be interested in a more formal lecture series. At this point, David Farquharson joined him to turn the idea into reality.

To recruit members, Wilf and Dave set up a booth on "Seniors Day" at the Mlacak Centre in Kanata. They collected the names of 34 interested people but figured they needed 60 in order to reach critical mass. They met this number after the placement of a single advertisement in the Kanata Kourier. But that was the only time they needed to advertise - word-of-mouth has been responsible for the healthy recruitment of members ever since.

The next steps for Wilf and Dave were the hardest. What topics should be covered? Who could they recruit as speakers? Where would the lectures be held?

The second of these questions dictated the answer to the first. Via a friend, Dave Farquharson was able to arrange a meeting with the Dean of Medicine at Ottawa University, Dr. Peter Walker. Dave explained who the audience was and managed to persuade Dr. Walker to supply speakers for the first series called "Medicine in a Changing World." (In subsequent years, he has also assisted with speakers for two more series on the same topic).

As an added bonus, Marion Dewar (mayor of Ottawa 1978-85, and an experienced Public Health Nurse) gave the first lecture. A packed house of sixty was there to hear her talk about two-tier medicine.

That first successful series set the model (and the expectations) for further lectures. Subsequent audiences have not been disappointed.

The original venue was the Kanata Senior Centre. It seemed ideal because, as well as offering a friendly environment, they also supplied refreshments. But as the numbers went from 60 in the fall of 2001, to 75 in the winter of 2002, and then to 90 in the spring 2002, this location could no longer meet WELU's needs - something upon which the Fire Marshall was very insistent.

WELU eventually settled on the Kanata Baptist Church, which had a large room that could hold 135. However, they could not supply the coffee and cookies. This meant recruiting a Refreshments Committee. June McManus offered to coordinate this committee, along with several volunteers. As membership numbers continued to grow, preparing coffee and cookies became more difficult and challenging. About the same time, we began to experience some scheduling conflicts at the church.

The problem was solved by moving to the Kanata Legion Hall where, for a fee, catering became part of the package. And there WELU continues to flourish!

A few words about our logo. The design is symbolic. The lamp is the "lamp of learning" and of course, the sunset represents the west. The green lettering and green field symbolize concern for the environment.