Retirees' Association

Retirees Association of Queen's

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On May 23, our long-awaited tour of Mitchell Hall (previously known as the Wellness and Innovation Centre) did not disappoint!   Bob Polegato, the Project Manager, took us on an extensive tour.   The building is located at the corner of Union and Division Streets.

We were shown the Innovation Hub, home to the Dunin-Deshpande Innovation Centre which provides students and faculty members with the resources, mentors, and networks to help them transform ideas into products and services.  We also saw the Beaty Water Research Centre and one of three large classrooms featuring the very latest (and for most of us unimaginable) technology.  This part of the building will be used by students in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science with special designated space for Mechanical Engineering students.

In the Wellness Centre part of the building, we saw the much-expanded International Centre.  The Centre has meeting rooms and a large kitchen, a Multi-Faith Chapel, the Office of Faith and Spiritual Life, private exam spaces for students who need them, and one of the gyms.

The building cost $85 million dollars and it was evident that the money had been well spent.

After the tour we gathered at the University Club for lunch and were joined by the Reverend Wendy Luella Perkins who outlined the services provided by the Office of Faith and Spiritual Life at Queen’s and in particular, the programs that she coordinates. These programs focus on creating meaning and community through cooking and sharing meals together, Soulful Singing, creative arts, and alcohol-free events.  Wendy Luella has started two meal-sharing programs:  Cooking with Grandmothers and Cooking with Kingstonians.  She would welcome another group:  Cooking with Retirees!

We were surprised to learn how many students at Queen’s suffer from loneliness for a number of reasons including lack of money and unfamiliarity with student life.   The Chaplain’s Office is a place where such students can gain a sense of belonging, regardless of their religious beliefs. 

If you would like to assist the Office in its work, you might consider making a cheque out to Queen’s University and put the purpose of your donation in the memo line. It would be “Chaplain’s Trust” for bursaries or “Faith and Spiritual Life” for programming.

For more information on Mitchell Hall see: and for more information on the Office of Faith and Spiritual Life see:

Cherrilyn Yalin


The annual pot-luck picnic was held at the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre (EEEC) on Friday, 21 June.  A group of about 15 members enjoyed good company, interesting pot-luck dishes to share and beautiful weather.  This year Steve Lougheed was not able to be with us as he was teaching in Kenya. Instead the research coordinator, Ivana Schoepf, give us a thorough overview of work at the Centre, with pictures of the site.  She also showed us photos of the staff, while outlining their various responsibilities.  Ivana then introduced us to three people who are currently working and/or researching at the Centre this summer. 

One summer student, Kestrel de Marco, is continuing the analysis of the migratory patterns of tree swallows, a study which has been ongoing since it was started by Queen’s professor Raleigh Robertson in 1975.  There has been a steady decline in their population since the 1990s, which has led to speculation as to the cause--climate change, food supply in the face of the decline of insects, predation, or other causes. 

Next, Adriana Lopez Villalobos, Administrative Data and Herbarium Manager at Queen’s Biological Station at Opinicon, spoke to us, showing samples of dried and pressed plants from eastern Ontario going back to the late 19th century and continuing to the present.  The purpose of the Fowler Herbarium is to catalogue the biodiversity of plants in the region and make this information available to interested individuals and institutions.  A lot of this work is done by community volunteers and Adriana is always looking for more hands on deck to help her with either mounting specimens or with digitization.

Finally Emily Verhoek, the outreach and teaching coordinator, spoke about the work she does, including water quality assessment, climate data collection (a lot of this is done by volunteer citizens) and investigating fish population, especially bass.  She also organizes public events for families and school groups.

Juliet Milsome