Word on the Hill Lecture Series

full bike rack

Word on the Hill is back with a whole new line-up of speakers who will be presenting on topics of climate change, biodiversity , and conservation - all connecting to our current exhibition, Ice Age Mammals on loan from the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Scheduled lectures

Sunday, May 5

"Evolutionary History of the Lake Superior Caribou"

Presented by Kirsten Solmundson

Kirsten is a Ph.D. candidate at Trent University whose research focuses on the evolutionary history of caribou through two major climatic events: the emergence of distinct subspecies during the most recent ice age (the late Pleistocene) and the recent dramatic declines of caribou (the Anthropocene). Her thesis focuses on the evolution and conservation of Ontario's boreal caribou, with a particular interest in southern populations that are facing a high risk of local extinction. Kirsten argues that the evolutionary origins of caribou lineages are key to accurately assessing biodiversity and identifying conservation priorities.

Sunday, May 12

"Peterborough County: Old-Growth Forest Mecca?"

Presented by Michael Henry

Some of the most impressive old-growth forests in Southern Ontario are found in Peterborough County. Join forest ecologist Michael Henry on a journey through forests like Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park, an old-growth forest with trees over 400 years old. We will review the signs of old age trees, with an emphasis on trees in our local woodlands, as well as in Ontario's Greenbelt and Algonquin Park. This presentation will include stories and photos of finding old trees, and learning about the status and value of old-growth forests which are biodiversity hotspots and can even help fight climate change.

Sunday, May 26

"Fine-Scale Habitat Selection by Canada Lynx and Bobcat in Northern Ontario"

Presented by Samantha Morin

The Canada lynx is an iconic boreal species that has lost about 40% of its historic range across North America. One factor that may be contributing to this range contraction is competition with the closely-related bobcat, which has been expanding northward in recent decades. By tracking these species alonf the north shore of Lake Huron, Morin was never able to find lynx and bobcat at the same sites. Learn about what factors are contributing to the displacement of the Canada lynx, and what this could mean for future populations.

Sunday, June 2

"What's Up with the Climate - and What Can We Do About It?"

Presented by Ginny Colling and Deborah Pearson

Colling and Pearson will be presenting a dynamic audio-visual lecture and discussion looking at climate change in action around the globe and in our own backyards. They will address three burning questions: Must we change? Can we change? and Will we change? Following their presentation will be a discussion that will explore what we can do to preserve the planet for future generations, both as individuals and collectively as global citizens.

Sunday, June 9

"Conservation Paleontology: Leveraging the Past to Understand our Future"

Presented by Dr. Danielle Fraser

Dr. Fraser will review the ways in which paleontology can contribute to conservation science and will use relevant examples from her research. She will argue that the impacts of direct human disturbance to the environment will reach far beyond our lifetimes and that the fossil record is the only source of relevant long-term data. Dr. Fraser hopes to paint a picture of how mammals responded to the extinction of the dinosaurs and to the extreme environmental changes that have occurred over the past 66 million years.


All lectures will take place in the Fleming Annex (portable building), located at the Peterborough Museum and Archives.

300 Hunter Street East, Museum Drive, Ashburnham Memorial Park, Peterborough, Ontario.


2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays through May and June.

Please note that there will not be a lecture held on Sunday, May 19.


A suggested donation of $10 is recommended. This will include entry into a Word on the Hill lecture, as well as access to each of our exhibitions for viewing. 

Please note that this is a drop-in event, and space is limited. Seating will be provided on a first-come basis.


Parking is available on-site, off of Museum Drive, and at the top of Armour Hill.

About the presenters

Kirsten Solmundson

Kirsten was born and raised in Winnipeg, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Manitoba - with studies focused on evolution and biodiversity. In 2017, Kirsten moved to Peterborough to begin her Masters of Science program at Trent University, studying boreal caribou which are facing extinction. She has since converted into the Ph.D. program after realizing more time would be needed to fully address her study questions. Kirsten's ultimate goal is to minimize the devastation of our current extinction crisis by contributing to scientifically-informed conservation.

Michael Henry

Mike Henry is a senior ecologist with Ancient Forest Exploration and Research. He has spent over two decades studying and working to conserve Ontario's old-growth forests, and has written reports, trail guides, and magazine articles about them. In 2016, he led a study that showed Jackson Park, in Peterborough Ontario, contains an old-growth forest with trees up to 250 years old. Recently, he helped draw attention to threatened old-growth forests in Algonquin Park, where he and Nate Torenvliet found unprotected forests that were over 400 years old. He is currently living with his family in Peterborough. He is the lead author of Ontario's old-growth forests (second edition spring 2019), is working on a book about old-growth forests in Ontario's Greenbelt (fall 2020), and blogs about forest issues.

Samantha Morin

Samantha is a recent graduate of the Environmental and Life Sciences program at Trent University, where she completed her Masters of Science on Canada lynx and bobcat habitat selection, in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Samantha has worked with several other wildlife species including martens, turtles, flying squirrels, and other small mammals. Her interests include knitting, hiking, yoga, gardening and volunteering with wildlife rehabilitation organizations.

Ginny Colling and Deborah Pearson

These two women have both enjoyed long careers in education - Deborah with the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, and Ginny having completed the Journalism Program at Durham College. Since retirement, both have been serving on the City of Kawartha Lakes (CKL) Environmental Advisory Committee and the Healthy Environment Plan working group that produced a climate action adaption plan in 2018 for the City. In addition, Deborah is a member of the Bee City Pollinator Action Committee for CKL, and Ginny is a member of the Suzuki Foundation's Blue Dot Movement. In 2017, they both travelled to the United States and took the Climate Reality Project leadership training led by former United States Vice Preseident and Nobel Laureate, Al Gore. They have been making presentations about climate change to community and school groups in the Kawarthas and Durham regions ever since. 

Dr. Danielle Fraser

Dr. Danielle Fraser is a research scientist with the Canadian Museum of Nature, and studies paleontology and evolution of the Cenozoic Era (66 million years to present) mammals. She is especially interested in the evolution of hoofed mammals (relatives of modern horses, pigs, sheep and deer) and the conditions that led to the formation of mammal communities as we know them today.