The Armchair Travel series has been popular over the years. Here, a photo of Gwyneth Kingham chatting with Syrian girls at Palmyra. (Submitted photo)

Cowichan Community Centre Elder College celebrates 20th anniversary

Volunteer instructors are the key to success.

Submitted by Judy Bader

“Elder College” is an international movement that promotes and provides lifelong learning opportunities for people 50 years or older. The Elder College Advisory Committee and the Cowichan Valley Regional District have collaborated for 20 years delivering programs serving Cowichan Valley residents.

In September 2000, Elder College was transferred from the then Malaspina College to the CVRD. With the guidance of the Advisory Committee, the CVRD has expanded and delivered innovative programming to Cowichan Valley communities. Venues have included classroom, studio, and outdoor settings. Programming has grown from 12 to more than 140 programs. Elder College membership now exceeds 600 annually.

The 20th anniversary celebration of this partnership is temporarily postponed due to COVID-19. Once larger gatherings are permitted again, past and present instructors, learners, advisory committee members, and the CVRD will be able to celebrate this event together. Please watch for this.

Volunteer instructors are the key to success. Their expertise varies widely from extensive experience to professional credentials. More than 100 volunteer instructors have shared their skills and knowledge. Some instructors have been with the college from the beginning as students, instructors and advisory board committee members.

Eric and Dorothy Marshall signed up for classes shortly after moving to the Valley. Their early classes included play-reading and storytelling, with Eric joining the advisory committee as secretary and serving in this position until 2018. As well, Eric taught classes focused on travel, photography, computer programs, and humpback whales. Dorothy and Eric continue to lead two popular walks — “Spring Flowers” and “Thetis Island Beach”. They still attend classes, especially enjoying “Armchair Travel” sessions.

Gwyneth Kingham, another longstanding instructor and current advisory committee co-chair, started as a Spanish language instructor in 2000 and joined the Advisory Committee shortly afterwards. She continues to teach classes which allow her to share her love of travel through “Armchair Travel” courses.

Eric, Dorothy and Kingham are examples of the cadre of talented and dedicated instructors who have served the community though Elder College.

Also key to its success has been the role of CVRD liaison Jennifer Carmichael who has provided excellent support to the Advisory Committee for the past 20 years. This unique relationship has allowed the committee to focus on assessing and identifying interests, developing programs and recruiting instructors. The CVRD has provided the facilities, registration process and overall administrative support.

This partnership continues to evolve to provide more and varied quality programs. Courses range in length from one to eight or more sessions delivered in a variety of formats. If a topic you are interested in is not currently on offer, or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer instructor, the Advisory Committee wants to hear from you. Contact Jennifer Carmichael at: 250-748-7529 or

Fall courses are about to start. (All COVID-19 safety measures are in effect.) Please browse the selection of courses available at: – Cowichan Community Centre – Recreation Programs – Elder College or

Judy Bader is a member of the Elder College Advisory Committee.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Eric and Dorothy Marshall have been longtime instructors and students with Elder College. (Submitted photo)

Just Posted

Halloween will be different this year but the CVRD and volunteers are working hard to make it special. (CVRD photo)
Youbou Halloween festivities a go, but digitally

Swing by the Hall to add to your haul

The Cowichan Bulldogs’ Ben Wilson runs the 40-yard dash during the Vancouver Island football combine at McAdam Park on Oct. 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Island football players meet in Cowichan for combine

48 players test their skills in bid for provincial programs

‘Gran’pa grew it, says young Stephen Nahirnick as he maintains a tight grip on one of Steve Nahirnick’s Hallowe’en pumpkins. Stephen is son of Jack and Joan Nahirnick and he took the opportunity last week to enjoy splendid autumn weather while perched on grandfather’s knee while the elder Nahirnick was harvesting luxuriant and large garden.’ (Lake News/Oct. 22, 1980)
Flashback: Halloween night full of activities, crime

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Jordan Jay Ward, 20, is wanted Canada-wide for manslaughter. (Calgary police photo)
RCMP: Suspicious man seen in Parksville woods resembled manslaughter suspect

Hikers say he resembled Jordan Jay Ward, wanted Canada-wide

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read