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Egyptologist the latest expert to speak with local seniors at popular WSA web series

The Woolwich Seniors Association (WSA) has been taking on new activities over the last year in an effort to keep their members active despite stay-at-home orders and the need for social distancing.

Through the Active at Home program, seniors in the township have been able to bring activities such as fitness, arts, and trivia right to their homes. One of the most popular activities over the last year is the coffee social webinar, an online meeting in which seniors learn from experts in their field.

This week, the coffee social invited retired Egyptologist Gayle Gibson to bring her expertise on that ancient culture.

For Nancy Lucier, coordinator with the WSA, having Gibson at this week’s coffee social helped bring the history of mummies and this ancient civilization back to life.

“I think there’s always a fascination with ancient Egypt and mummies. We all have our own attitudes and thoughts around mummies, but I thought it would be really neat to learn about the lives behind the mummy and bring a little bit of ancient Egypt to life,” said Lucier. “There’s a lot of histories to be learned looking at the story of this person, this particular mummy will bring us a little bit of education about the life they lead the history of ancient Egypt. So, I’m really looking forward to this topic. I think it’s going to be really interesting for people… we’re looking forward to hearing about the story, which will bring some of that information with the lives of the people behind the mummies.”

During her presentation, Gibson spoke of the fascination that the western world has with mummies, while highlighting one of the oldest residents who has been living here since the mid-1800s.

“I’ll be talking about mummies in general, but mainly, the focus will be on a mummy who has been in the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for over 100 years and has been in Canada since 1859. [Antjau], is the oldest inhabitant of the city and anyone who has been to the Royal Ontario Museum has met him. So, I’m talking about his journey to Canada, [his time] in Canada, and what we know about him as a person,” said Gibson of her coffee social presentation.”

Starting his life in Canada in 1859, Antjau is a mummy who began his time in Cobourg before setting up permanent residence at the ROM in 1904 (originally part of the Victoria College museum).

Gibson first started giving an iteration of the speech she gave to the WSA about two years ago. When it was first created, she says it lasted about 20 minutes for the in-person lecture she gave. Since then, she has given this speech twice more – the WSA was the third audience to hear the speech (and first seniors group to benefit from a virtual Gibson lesson). However, this version was different, as Gibson says she never gives the same talk twice.

“I’ll usually get the talk going and I will add this or take that away. Depending on the audience I will also move things around so they’re always a little bit different. This is the third time I have given this one and it is different every time,” she added.

She says she tried to localize her presentation for the group by trying to connect it to Elmira in some way, however, it does not seem like there was much to be found. In this version of the presentation, she expects to delve further into history of mummification, why we are interested in mummies and where this fascination first began.

She says the complexities of creating a PowerPoint presentation for an online group is not much different than creating one for an in-person lecture with hundreds of hours going into making sure everything is perfect for either group.

During her time doing presentations, she says seniors’ groups are always the most engaged because their life experiences help to make the conversation more interesting as they always have great questions and bring their knowledge and life experience into the talk.

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