Category Archives: Breakfast Speakers 2019

Breakfast Meeting January 19, 2019


Before founding Yorkland Publishing, Ed Shiller had earned distinction as a journalist, public affairs consultant and teacher. His journalism career spanned 15 years, during which he held senior editorial positions with The New York Times News Service, Reuters News Agency, Radio Denmark and The Toronto Star and contributed to Newsweek, The (London) Sunday Times, The Financial Times of London and many other leading newspapers and magazines. After leaving journalism, Ed served as a public affairs executive for Denison Mines Limited, Kidd Creek Mines Limited and The Canadian Manufacturers Association and subsequently founded Ed Shiller Communications, which listed hundreds of leading North American organizations among its clients.  He is the author of In the Spotlight: The Essential Guide to Giving Great Media Interviews and The Canadian Guide to Managing the Media and taught a variety of communications courses at Seneca College and the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.


Breakfast Meeting February 16, 2019

Douglas Maitland Gibson (born December 4, 1943) is a Canadian editor, publisher and writer.[1] Best known as the former president and publisher of McClelland and Stewart, he was particularly noted for his professional relationships with many of Canada’s most prominent and famous writers.[2]

Born in KilmarnockAyrshireScotland and raised in the nearby village of Dunlop,[1] Gibson attended the University of St. Andrews and Yale University before moving to Canada in 1967.[1] He worked briefly for McMaster University before being hired as a junior editor at Doubleday Canada,[1] where his first job was editing a biography of Stephen Leacock.[1]

In 1974 he became editorial director of Macmillan of Canada,[1] ascending to publisher of the company in 1979.[1] During his time at Macmillan, Gibson sent first-time authors an instructional guide, “What Happens After My Book Is Published?”, which was published by Saturday Night in 1979 and was nominated for a National Magazine Award for humor.[1] With MacMillan, he was noted for successfully negotiating Mavis Gallant‘s first Canadian publishing deal;[3] Gallant, a Canadian writer who had spent much of her life and career living inParisFrance as an expatriate, was not considered to be well known in the Canadian market and did not even have a Canadian publisher at all until Gibson approached her. He also spearheaded the creation and publication of Home Truths, a compilation of Gallant’s Canadian-themed stories which was her only title ever to win the Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction.[4] Robertson DaviesBruce HutchisonJack HodginsAlice Munro and Morley Callaghan were also among the writers who established relationships with Gibson in this era.[5]

In the early 1980s, he also contributed film reviews to CBC Radio‘s Sunday Morning.[2] Throughout his career, he has also been a contributor to The Globe and Mail, the National PostBooks in CanadaToronto Life andMaclean’s.[2]

He moved to McClelland and Stewart in 1986,[6] becoming publisher of the company in 1988[1] and president in 2000.[1] With M&S, he also managed his own imprint, Douglas Gibson Books.[2] Numerous authors, including Munro, Davies, Hodgins, Gallant, Hugh MacLennanGuy Vanderhaeghe and W.O. Mitchell,[2] followed him from Macmillan to M&S in order to continue working with him.[5] Munro returned the advance the company had already paid her for The Progress of Love, and had to enter several months of legal negotiations to get released from her contract,[2] although The Progress of Love ultimately became the first title published by Douglas Gibson Books.[2]The departures greatly damaged Macmillan, which published only a small and irregular selection of fiction titles after Gibson’s departure.[2]

Gibson was awarded the Canadian Booksellers’ Association President’s Award in 1991.[5]

Following his retirement in 2008, Gibson published a memoir, Stories About Storytellers: Publishing Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Pierre Trudeau, and Others, in 2011.[1] Munro wrote the book’s introduction. In recent years, he has also been known for frequent public appearances and statements on behalf of Munro, whose declining health has prevented her from making many public engagements.[7]

Breakfast Meeting March 16, 2019

Raised by Nancy Drew and Miss Marple, Sherry C Isaac maintains her love of mystery. Sherry’s novels have earned several women’s fiction accolades and her short, The Forgetting, took the Alice Munro Award in 2009. Upon graduating from Toronto Film School’s screenwriting program, Sherry directed her talents to the world of short film and her first film, Skin Deep, was nominated for best screenplay. As a novelist, screenwriter, and director, she focuses her lens on strong female protagonists on the brink of discovering their courage, identity, and strength.

Presentation Description & Objectives: 
Through the eyes of a writer turned filmmaker, Smarter, Stronger Storyteller© shows authors how to translate filmmaking techniques to the written page and use those tricks of the Hollywood trade to empower point-of-view and immerse the reader in every scene from set up to cliffhanger. 
Participants will learn: 

  • new ways to establish setting, convey critical information, and add dimension to their story by setting up each scene like a filmmaker 
  • how to adapt skills they already possess to create scenes with more depth, meaning and impact
  • adapt point of view to enhance character, suspense, and more.

Breakfast Meeting April 20, 2019

Maureen Jennings, now a Canadian citizen, was born in the UK and emigrated to Canada as a teenager. After a long career as a psychotherapist, she is now writing full time and has published one novella, thirteen novels of crime fiction and one book of non-fiction relating to creativity, as well as four professionally produced plays.

She was awarded a Certificate of Commendation from Heritage Toronto in 1998; the Grant Allen award for on-going contribution to the genre in 2011, and has received a total of Eight nominations from Crime Writers of Canada, for best novel and short story of the year. Her books have been translated into other languages, including Polish; Korean; French; German, Italian and Czech and are also published in the UK by Titan Books.

Her first series was set in Victorian Toronto and has been adapted for television first as three movies of the week, and now The Murdoch Mysteries tv series, now in production for its 11th season for CBC television. Since 2011, she has written, and co-written, 7 scripts for the series including the adaption of “Shipwreck”, the novella which deals with the origins of Murdoch’s interest in detection.

Maureen has written two novels in a contemporary series about the forensic profiler, Christine Morris. These books are set in both the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, and Orillia Ontario, and have been purchased by Shaftesbury Films.

In 2016, the 4th book in a series of novels, Dead Ground In Between, set in England during WW2 and Featuring DCI Tom Tyler, was published. The first book, Season of Darkness, was released August 2011. The second book, Beware This Boy, was published November 2012. The third No Known Grave, was nominated for the Arthur Ellis award for Best Crime novels.

The second book in the Tyler series, Beware this Boy, served as the inspiration for the concept that she developed with a partner for the television series,Bomb Girls. Broadcast on Global TV in Canada, Bomb Girls was nominated for the Canadian Screen awards for Best Drama in its first two seasons as well as Best Movie of the week for its third and final season, and won in that category. Bomb Girls also won the Gracie Award in the US for its first season. All of the Tyler series is now under option for television with Pelee Entertainment.

In November 2017, the 8th novel in the Murdoch series, Let Darkness Bury the Dead, which is set during the Canadian WW 1 home front 1917, 22 years after we last saw Murdoch in novel form, was published by McClelland & Stewart to great critical acclaim.

Maureen is currently working on a new series set in 1936 Toronto where we meet PI Charlotte Frayne, who is presented with her first case entitled “The Paradise Café, book one, Heat Wave”.

Maureen lives in Toronto with her husband, photographer Iden Ford, and her Dog, Murdoch.

Breakfast Meeting May 18, 2019

Leonard Rosmarin is Professor Emeritus of French literature and former Chair of the Department of Modern Languages at Brock University in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. He received his Doctorate from Yale University where he began his teaching career in 1964, then was appointed Assistant Professor at WesleyanUniversity, also in Connecticut.

He returned to Canada in 1969 to take up a position as Associate, then Full Professor at Brock, which, at that time, was only five years old. Leonard felt it would be an exciting challenge to create programs and traditions at a place that was just beginning its existence.

Before reincarnating himself as a novelist, Leonard has been an internationally recognized scholar and published nine books that have taken him all over the map of literary scholarship, from the 17th century to the 21st.

He has been decorated twice by the Government of France for distinguished service in the cause of French letters. From 1992 till 2002 he was Visiting Professor at the School for Doctoral studies at theUniversity of Perpignan in Perpignan, France.

A self-confessed opera addict, he has written a study on the relationship between literature and lyric drama titled When Literature Becomes Opera. He is especially proud of the essays he has devoted to the works of some of the great Franco-Jewish writers of the 20th century: the novelist Albert Cohen, the philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas, the dramatist Liliane Atlan and the Nobel Prize winner, Elie Wiesel.

His English adaptation of Mme Atlan’s finest play, Les Mers Rouges, was mounted by the very popular Toronto Fringe Festival in 2005 and will eventually be made into a film for television.His essay on the novels of Elie Wiesel has been enthusiastically endorsed by the great man himself. Leonard is fully fluent in both French and English, and navigates effortlessly between the two languages and cultures.

Leonard has become a novelist rather late in life, at the ripe old age of 70! Why did it take so long? Here is how he relates his unusual trajectory: “For literally decades I had wanted to immortalize my over-the-top, larger-than-life Jewish family. They were refreshingly un-hypocritical. In fact, they were always brutally frank. They would never stab you in the back; it was always in the chest. So at least you knew where the blows were coming from. They were absolutely transparent. What you see was what you got.

“But whenever I felt inclined to sit down and actually write about them, I would begin to worry about what would happen to my academic career. As of the late 70s, Canadian, just like American universities, were becoming afflicted with the neurosis of ‘Publish or Perish.’ In order to rise through the ranks, I simply had to concentrate on my scholarship and leave novel writing on the back burner.

“Once I retired, however, I had no more excuses. My immediate family and friends got after me to finally put down in writing all the tantalizing, scandalous stories I had been relating to them for years about the extended family of my childhood.  So I sat down and started working on the novel in earnest.

“I had written a few chapters way back in 1982, twenty-six years earlier. At that time, all I intended to do was to make fun of my relatives and throw in some sex into the story for good measure. When I returned to them so many years later, my attitude had, by then, changed radically. I felt a deep empathy towards them. I could no longer mock them. Instead of making my readers laugh at them, I wanted my readers to laugh with them.  I still wanted my novel to be hilarious, but I wanted it to have poignancy, too. Hence the title, Getting Enough.

“It’s the story of a group of individuals from the same family who are desperate for emotional and spiritual fulfilment but go about seeking it the wrong way. They get short-circuited by their erotic cravings. Rubbing epidermises is not the same thing as being in love with another human being.

“The two main characters, at least, come out stronger and better people. Once they stop typecasting one another, they can move towards a loving reconciliation after 26 years of an acrimonious, hate-ridden marriage.

“Now that I have written my first work of fiction, I would love to continue. When you create a novel, you experience the thrill of roaming, untrammelled, within your imagination. The sense of freedom is boundless. You are absolute master of the world you are building. And what is so wonderful is that by creating imaginary destinies you can see more clearly into yourself and our whole human condition.”


Breakfast Meeting, June 15, 2019

Komal Singh is in the midst of her first book tour – making appearances on talk shows and in bookstores – but she’s not what you’d consider a typical children’s book author. The Google program manager and engineer wrote the book when her then-four-year old daughter casually remarked that only boys were engineers. “It really bummed me out!” she says.

So in August of this year, Ara the Star Engineer was born. It’s the story of a young girl who solves big problems with courage, creativity and collaboration – which are all hallmarks of Singh’s own story, as well.

Singh grew up in India in the 1980s, when female role models in the sciences were few and far between. Now, in Canada, she wants to change that for little girls growing up today. “My anchor was my father,” she says. “He encouraged me to study and never give up on my goals.”

In 2005, Singh graduated from Simon Fraser University with a masters degree in computer science and, after 10 years in the software engineering business, landed her dream job at Google (on her third attempt of the company’s notoriously grueling interview and vetting process). “I loved the idea of doing work that impacts billions of people around the world,” she says. “I wanted to be somewhere I could be a whole person – a mother and engineer and someone with passion projects so I could inspire my kids.”

While Singh says she hasn’t faced overt discrimination as a woman in the male-dominated field of software engineering, she points to more subtle forms – like the fact that when the team scores a win, they sometimes circulate memes of white men high-fiving, or the fact that brainstorming sessions are recorded on whiteboards she’s too short to reach. “These seem like such small things, but over time they make you doubt you belong,” she says. And she hopes that getting more women and girls interested in computer science will help eradicate such continuing challenges through sheer numbers.

With the publication of Ara the Star Engineer, she hopes young girls will see that there is a place for them in engineering and that women will seek out mentors committed to diversity, as she has over the course of her career. As part of her commitment to closing the gender gap in her field, all profits from the book are being donated to charities encouraging girls’ and underrepresented groups’ participation in STEM fields.

Breakfast Meeting September 21, 2019

Shane Joseph is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada. He began writing as a teenager living in Sri Lanka and has never stopped. Redemption in Paradise, his first novel, was published in 2004 and his first short story collection, Fringe Dwellers, in 2008. His novel, After the Flood, a dystopian epic set in the aftermath of global warming, was released in November 2009 and won the Canadian Christian Writers award for best Futuristic/Fantasy novel in 2010. Shane’s most recent collection of short stories, Crossing Limbo, was published in 2017. His latest novel, Milltown, is set amidst the intrigues of small town Ontario, and will be released in April 2019. His short stories and articles have appeared in several Canadian anthologies and in literary journals around the world. His blog at is widely syndicated.

Shane is the owner and publisher of Blue Denim Press (, a literary press he founded in 2011.

His career stints include: stage and radio actor, pop musician, encyclopedia salesman, lathe machine operator, airline executive, travel agency manager, vice president of a global financial services company, software services salesperson, editor, publisher, project manager and management consultant.

Breakfast Meeting October 19, 2019

Max Layton: I was born in Montreal in 1946. My father, Irving Layton, who would later become the well-known poet, was barely making ends meet while my mother, Betty Sutherland, who would later change her name to Boschka, was a painter working as a cashier at a local restaurant.

My parents were, to say the least, unconventional. Atheists and socialists; they were part of a writers’ co-op. I remember the interior walls of my childhood home were lined with books and paintings and I remember there were frequent parties – artists of all kinds: dancers, potters, sculptors, actors and, of course, writers. One of these was a young poet who always brought his guitar. His name was Leonard Cohen. When I was twelve, my mother traded one of her paintings in return for Leonard giving guitar lessons to me. I’ve been in love with the guitar ever since.

My parents split up when I was 13. I remember my mother staring out the window and playing the same Leadbelly record over and over. Eventually, my mother and sister moved to California while I went to live with my father: I moved out when I was 16…

Somehow, I finished high school, then worked odd jobs – picking tobacco in southern Ontario, laying track in northern Manitoba, logging in B.C., apprentice car mechanic in Montreal, etc. – while putting myself through university. It took me ten years but finally I graduated with a BA in Eng. Lit. and Philosophy…

The trouble with being seventy years old is that by now I have too many memories – family, friends, enemies, canoe trips in the wilderness, Aikido, Tai Chi, the delicious loneliness of reading a good book at four in the morning in an all-night greasy spoon, the first time I saw my wife Sharon, the first time I saw an impossible bend in a telephone pole…

A few months later, I was legally blind.

Unable to work, I retreated into the darkness of my room and wrote my first album, Heartbeat of Time. Unable to read, I turned to my steel-string Martin guitar. And then a very strange thing happened – my fingers found new chords and I found myself singing new words and new melodies.

The good news is that, my eyesight restored thanks to the miracle of modern science, I am now able to read again – and write. In fact, I have since published two books of poetry and released four CDs.

No longer blind, filled with love and gratitude, my songs and poems celebrate the new world I see…


Breakfast Meeting November 16, 2019

Lynne Golding was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from Victoria College at the University of Toronto before studying law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She is a senior partner at the international law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP where she leads their health law practice group. Lynne is married with three grown children, and currently lives in Brampton, Ontario. Winner of the OBPO’s “What’s Your Story Short Prose and Poetry Competition,” Lynne is preparing for the release of her second novel, ​The Beleagured​.

Author Lynne Golding’s connection to Brampton runs deep. She’s the fifth generation of her family who has called the city home. She was born and raised in the city, and even lived for years in a house her great-grandfather had built way back in 1905. She still resides in Brampton.

“Brampton is in my bones,” says Golding,  released her debut novel, The Innocent (Blue Moon Publishers) last fall. The work of historical fiction is set in the Flower City, appropriate considering Golding’s history with her hometown. The book opens in 1907 and follows Jessie Stephens and her family. A service is taking place in the Presbyterian Church but Jessie’s father won’t let the family enter its hallowed grounds. When she asks why, everyone is tight-lipped. But it somehow involves her grandfather Jesse Brady, who built the church. As she attempts to unravel the mystery, the protagonist learns more about her family, its history and the town she calls home. Golding says there’s mystery in The Innocent. But, the book isn’t a suspense novel. Instead, it’s a look at a small-town Canadian city and the people who live there in an era of innocence that would soon be shattered by the First World War. The novel is inspired, at least in part, by the author’s great aunt Jessie Roberts — who was born and raised in Brampton.