Last Friday at this time my wife Metaxia and I were flying back to
Montreal from Victoria, BC. The previous Friday we were in Calgary and
three Fridays ago we were in frigid, snow-covered Montreal. What a
19-day adventure in spreading the word about the many significant
achievements of the Institute via a series of lectures in western
This is the second year in a row that I have gone to Canada to give lectures about the work of the Institute.
Once again the hard work and generosity of the Canadian ambassador to
the Hellenic Republic, Robert Peck, made our trip possible. The
universities where I gave the lectures gave significant support as well.
Mr. Steve Mirkopoulos of CineSpace Film Studios in Toronto was very
kind to support Metaxia’s intra-Canadian travel expenses.
We started in Montreal where my wife gave an excellent introduction to Minoan civilization sta gallika
to a large audience. This was the first lecture of a series of six for
the general public relating to the art and artifacts of the travelling
exhibition entitled “The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great”
that opened in December at the Pointe-à-Callière museum. In the later
spring it will move to the Museum of History in Ottawa. It has an
impressive assortment of objects, many of which have never been seen
outside of Greece before. While there I had a chance to meet again
Claude-Sylvie Lemery, the Director of Communications and Marketing at
the museum, who had visited the Institute in November.
Besides our jovial host Jacques Perreault (Université de Montréal)
serving as our guide we had a chance to see the amazing Musée des
Beaux-Arts de Montréal with its curator of ancient art John Fossey.
John, while at McGill University, was the first director of the
Institute and held the Institute’s first archaeological field work permit from the Ministry of Culture in the early 1980s.
My first lecture was in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba to the
local A.I.A. Society. My lecture has two parts. The first describes the
nature of the Institute, the facilities and activities in Greece and our
relationship to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. The second, larger
part describes the results of our five current archaeological fieldwork
projects. In honor of our visit to this famously cold city, the
temperature was +1 C instead of -45 C! Nevertheless, from our hotel room
we could see people skating on the frozen path along the Red River.
Mark Lawall, Lea Sterling, Matt Maher (former Fellow), and George
McKinnon made our stay most memorable. The inevitable Greek diaspora
gave the reception afterwards a touch of home.
In Edmonton Margriet Haagsma made us work very hard. I gave two lectures (one on the mid-12th-century
BC settlement at Halasmenos in eastern Crete) and Metaxia one (on her
30 years of excavation and study of the Minoan palace, settlement and
cemetery at Petras outside of Siteia in eastern Crete) at the University
of Alberta. I was interviewed about CIG for a podcast and we met grad
students at a pizza lunch organized by Gino Canlas, a former Fellow.
Sandra Garvie-Lok and her Ph.D. student Hillary Sparkes joined us to
talk about some old bones we all knew. The members of the department and
their students were most congenial.
In Calgary the mild weather we encountered in Edmonton continued. As a
result almost all of the snow had melted before we left. Since all of
the colleagues I had known in the department had retired, we met the
talented next generation of scholars who had recently been amalgamated
with religious studies.
Our hosts in Vancouver Kevin Fisher and Sheri Pak (my former students at
Brock University) showed us the sights and views of the city. We
immediately fell in love with the city and its setting. Hector Williams
gave us an insider’s tour of UBC’s Museum of Anthropology - the setting,
the architecture and the extensive collections impressed us greatly. We
had never seen so much Northwest coast aboriginal art and artifacts.
Again we did our three lectures. To PHAROS, the Hellenic Canadian
Cultural Association, I gave my Institute lecture. To Professor Fisher’s
graduate course in Cypriot archaeology I presented my Halasmenos
lecture. And to the Vancouver A.I.A. Society Metaxia gave her Petras
lecture. All lectures were very well attended.
We then climbed the mountain to Burnaby, BC, where Simon Fraser
University is located. Our host John Pierce showed us the breathtaking
campus and Dave Burley showed us the Department of Archaeology’s amazing
archaeological labs. As SFU is a new institutional member, my lecture
on the Institute introduced them to who we are and what we do in Greece.
Their Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography added to our knowledge of
the rich and diverse aboriginal cultural heritages of this province.
The last stop was a 24-hour sojourn in Victoria, BC. Before the lecture
in the evening we were able to visit the extensive exhibitions of the
Royal BC Museum and have lunch with my old colleagues from Brock
University Noel and Laura Robertson. Our host at the University of
Victoria was Brendan Burke. A large audience attended the lecture
co-sponsored by the Classical Association of Vancouver Island. In the
daylight UVic must have a very attractive campus.
To cover all this ground we were constantly on airplanes. We sampled
the tasty beef steaks of Alberta and Manitoba as well as the
incomparable salmon of British Columbia. Our conversations with our
dining companions were wide ranging and most stimulating. Many of our
conversations revolved around the Institute’s work and how it could
serve a larger constituency. We gained insights into the current state
of tertiary education in Canada, the high quality of the undergraduate
and graduate students and the interesting personal lives of our
colleagues. May our hosts and audiences have gained as much from us and
our lectures as we have from each of them. I hope that the Institute
will make these lecture tours by the Director a regular tradition.
Now it is time to immerse myself in the “normal” program of the
Institute for the winter and spring in Athens. I hope that I’ve
convinced CIG supporters in western Canada to watch our lectures via
livestreaming as well as to follow this blog!