MURAnews Fall 2019

President's Corner

Helen Barton

Your MURAnews team has produced this newsletter, which contains a wide variety of articles and information it hopes you’ll find useful and interesting. Thanks go to the team – Denise Anderson, Phyllis DeRosa Koetting, Marju Drynan, John Horsman, Mary Johnston, and Kathy Overholt – and to contributing writers Nora Gaskin, Betty Ann Levy, Brian Beckberger and Mary Law.

Campus news includes a new Trees@Mac website, an opportunity to design and teach a course for Continuing Ed., and a look at the Braley Athletic Centre expansion.

Of interest to your personal life is an article on resources to help organize and record your wishes and documents for when you cannot manage your own affairs. There’s also a very good reminder about retiree eye care benefits.

You also may want to follow up on opportunities to volunteer, or to participate in research projects.

In ‘Computer Tips & Tricks’, learn how to easily share photos on the internet, and read an instructive personal experience with phone scams.

Rosemary Viola’s letter welcomes participation in the Unifor Local 5555 Retired Workers Chapter.

The annual MURA Christmas lunch will be held on December 4. This popular event is always well attended, with some groups organizing tables of colleagues from their department. You can find all the details below. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there.

A list of your MURA Council members and their roles is available on the MURA website. If you, or someone you know, would like to help with MURA’s activities please contact anyone on Council or let us know by phone or email (see below).

The second annual lunch for recent retirees took place on October 8. New MURA members from the past year enjoyed meeting Council members and colleagues who recently retired. Heather Grigg and I talked with the group about MURA and the perks and benefits available to them as retirees. Many thanks to Mary Gauld and Anne Plessl for organizing this event, and to Nora Gaskin and Heather for their help.

Helen Barton
Phone: 905-518-5339

Contacting MURA

Mail: Gilmour Hall B108, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8

Phone: (905) 525-9140, ext. 23171 (voicemail is checked once a week)


MURA Christmas Lunch

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 12:00 Noon
CIBC Hall — McMaster Student Centre

RSVP by Friday, November 15, 2019

The Annual Christmas Lunch will be held on campus in the CIBC Banquet Hall in the Student Centre again this year. The University President’s Office has generously subsidized the expenses for this event, which is keeping the cost to retirees to an amount similar to past years. 

The lunch buffet will be a traditional Christmas menu consisting of salads, veggies & dip, fresh rolls, roast turkey with sage dressing, baked ham with raisin cider sauce, mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. This will be topped off with festive cookies, fresh fruit, and tea and coffee.

There will be a cash bar with both alcoholic and non- alcoholic choices for your pre- and post-lunch enjoyment, while you chat with fellow retirees in this festive season. We will also have draw prizes for you to win.

This is a good opportunity to renew friendships with your former working colleagues. Arrange to arrive a little early to choose and share a table.

The price is $18.50 per person. Please be advised that you must pre-book and pay for the Christmas Lunch by Friday, November 15, 2019 and should make your booking as soon as possible. You may bring a guest if you wish. We will try to accommodate everybody who wants to attend, but seating is limited to 200. You will not be able to pay for your meal on the day of the event.

Please fill out and send in the Booking Form along with your cheque by Friday, November 15, 2019.

For information, contact Debbie Weisensee at 905-818-2618 or

Complimentary Parking

MURA thanks Parking Services for their generous support

Parking Services is providing complimentary parking for this special event starting at 11:00 a.m.

Retirees who do not have a McMaster parking permit and transponder will have access to Parking Lots B, C and D close to the Student Centre, and to the underground Stadium lot. Enter campus via the Sterling Street entrance to access these lots.

Park in any of these lots showing “Visitors - Open”. Take an entry ticket from the machine at the lot entrance. Your MURA hosts will provide you with a rebate voucher to pay for your parking when you leave.

Retirees with a valid parking transponder may park free of charge starting at 11:00 a.m. in any of lots B, C, D, and I, and anytime in any of lots H, K, M, N, P and Underground Stadium that show “Transponder – Open’.

To gain access or be directed to an available lot, use the Help button at any lot entrance.


For the mobility impaired: Be sure to let Debbie know in your RSVP if you have an Ontario Accessible Parking Permit and require accessible parking. Reserved accessible parking will be provided in Lot C close to the Student Centre. Parking staff will be on duty to assist. Please have your permit on display in your vehicle.

Booking Form for MURA Christmas Lunch

Wednesday, December 4, 2019, 12 Noon

$18.50 per person — payable to MURA

Book by November 15, 2019

To reserve seats for the Christmas Lunch, please:

download the printable booking form here

print, and mail with a cheque payable to MURA to:
Debbie Weisensee, 6 Willowtree Court, Dundas, ON L9H 6T4

For more information, contact Debbie Weisensee at 905-818-2618 or

# of persons __________________             Amount (# of persons x $18.50) $     ___________________

Name      ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Address   ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Postal Code ____________    Telephone # _________________    email address ______________________________

Name(s) of Additional Guest(s) 


I have an Ontario Accessible parking permit and require reserved accessible parking:  

Yes __________        No __________

Please list dietary restrictions here:


What’s happening at Mac

The Student Activity and Fitness Expansion at the David Braley Athletic Centre

By John Horsman

Much has already been written online and in the local press about the expansion at the David Braley Athletic Centre (DBAC) but in our on-going coverage of the myriad construction projects, both on and off campus, here is a short synopsis of the new construction site that has sprung up beside the DBAC.

In October 2018, work officially began on the Student Activity and Fitness Expansion at the David Braley Athletic and Ivor Wynne (IWC) Centre in the north end of campus near to the newly constructed Peter George Living and Learning Centre that accepted its first student residents in September. The $31 million Student Activity and Fitness Expansion project is scheduled to open in the late Summer of 2020 and is jointly funded by McMaster University and the McMaster student body.

When completed it will add almost 100,000 square feet of fitness studios, study areas and multi-faith meeting facilities and expand the existing Pulse fitness area. It will include a new three-storey Fitness addition, a four-storey Student Activity building adjacent to the DBAC as well as renovations to the Pulse Centre and a new gymnasium in the IWC. The new additions will include an atrium, social spaces, open mezzanine, student lounge, grocery market, prayer rooms, kitchen facilities, faculty and staff offices and a multi-purpose auditorium with room for 500 people.

The project’s principal architects say their projects focus on designs to maximize social and program interaction, with an emphasis on connecting a wide demographic of user groups. The targeted date for completion is less than 10 months from now and the area at the south end of the football stadium is a hive of activity behind perimeter construction fencing with earth movers digging foundations and preparing the site for the new construction during the fall and winter and on into next spring.

Looking back at my time at McMaster starting in 1966 as a freshman student until my retirement in 2007 and now back on campus with MURA, the expansion both on and off campus and into neighbouring communities, Burlington, Brantford and beyond, boggles the mind. This new addition, the Student Activity and Fitness Expansion, promises to make all Mac people, new and not so young alike, proud and happy. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!


By Mary Johnston

The McMaster campus is blessed with many fine trees. As you walk through the park-like setting of central campus, you pass a variety of interesting specimens; one of my favourites is the fastigiate English Oak outside the Burke Science Building. You will also find interesting trees in unexpected spots scattered around the University grounds.

Thanks to an interactive website developed by a group of students in the Arts and Science Program, you can get information about more than 30 different species of trees on campus. Trees@Mac will take you to an interactive map where you can click on icons to see information about individual trees. The site may continue to evolve with time and at the moment, does not include photos of all the trees marked. To get the most out of the web site, you may want to use it as you walk around campus.

To find out more, see The story behind your favourite tree on campus on the McMaster Daily News site.

Course Proposals for 55+

Are you itching to get back in the classroom? Or maybe you have an interesting course concept you’d like to bring to life? McMaster Continuing Education is looking for individuals like you to bring your skills and expertise as we develop a program aimed at mature learners 55+ looking for lifelong learning opportunities.

McMaster University is dedicated to the pursuit of lifelong learning and skill development. With your help, we believe that lifelong learning can extend to any age group and to any stage of life. We are actively accepting proposals for potential courses for the Winter 2020 term.

Visit us at McMaster Learning for 55+ to learn more and to submit your course ideas! We look forward to hearing from you!

Your Money/Your Health

Retiree Health Benefits for Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses, and Laser Eye Correction Surgery

 By Brian Beckberger and Mary Law

All of the extended Health, Dental and Group Life Benefit plans for McMaster retirees provide reimbursement of costs for eyeglasses (including prescription sunglasses), contact lenses and laser eye correction surgery once every 24 months. The amount of reimbursement varies with each plan. Plans will typically cover 100% of the initial purchase for prescription glasses if these are required because of an accident. Specific information for your plan can be found on the McMaster Human Resources page Post Retirement Benefits.

Timing is very important for reimbursement for eye care expenses. Sun Life, who administer the university’s benefit plan, are very strict about the 24 month rule. Your receipt needs to be dated at least 24 months after your last claim or it will be denied. For example, you could require new eyeglass lenses because of cataract surgery. If these lenses are required within 24 months of your last claim for eyeglasses, the new claim will be denied.

The 24 month rule also means you cannot make two claims to reach your maximum payable within 24 months. For example, if your maximum is $250 for 24 months, you cannot claim $150 at one point and then an additional $100 for another purchase during the same 24 months.

You can check your eligibility for reimbursement before visiting an optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist by:

  • Contacting Sun Life at 1-800-361-6212 between 7 am and 8 pm Monday to Friday. Have your employee ID# and policy number (25018) available.
  • Signing in to the Sun Life website. You will need to obtain an ID and password from Sun Life to use this site.

For more information about benefits and Sun Life coverage, check your benefits plan booklet or contact Human Resources at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247 or

Are your affairs in order?

Much as we’d like to live in the here-and-now, the reality is that none of us is getting any younger. We need to prepare for the possibility that illness could render us incapable of making decisions, leaving family or friends to take responsibility for handling our affairs.

It’s important to let those close to us know what kind of health and personal care we want if we become disabled. One resource that may help us to start thinking about these issues and to open conversations with loved ones is available from Advance Care Planning in Canada. They offer online and printable workbooks designed to take you through the Advanced Care Planning process and document your wishes for care at the end of your life. These workbooks can be downloaded or obtained in print from Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, Annex D, Saint-Vincent Hospital, 60 Cambridge Street North, Ottawa, ON K1R 7A5.

After covering the big issues (e.g., What would make prolonging life unacceptable for me? If I were nearing death, what would I want to make the end more peaceful for me?), the workbook provides space to record where your Substitute Decision Maker(s) may find your Living Will, Power of Attorney, Will and other documents. In addition to these important paper documents, you should consider what will happen to your online accounts: social media such as Facebook; email; photos, music and documents you have stored in ‘the Cloud’; online banking accounts and records; loyalty points, for example from frequent-flyer programs. You may want to consult your lawyer about documenting your wishes on winding up your online accounts in your Will or Power of Attorney. A recent article by Rob Carrick in the Globe and Mail, This could be the all-time most ignored piece of personal-finance advice, offers some helpful insights into documenting your digital assets.

Volunteer Opportunities

Don’t want to volunteer alone? Sign up with a friend.

Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice

MURA members seeking an opportunity to lend their knowledge and skills to helping patient-clients, and their families, who are living with life threatening illnesses, are invited to consider volunteering with the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice. The goal of the hospice is to provide excellence in care, whether that be at home, in hospital, in a long-term care facility or in the Dr. Bob Kemp residential hospice. Hospice is about celebrating life and quality of living. All services offered through the hospice are provided at no cost to the clients or their families.

The Bob Kemp Hospice is always looking for volunteers to share their time and talents. Volunteers are asked for a minimum commitment of 15 hours per month for at least one year. Programs needing volunteers are:

  • Day Hospice Program/Pediatric Day Wellness: Participants spend their day involved in many activities with lunch provided,
  • Visiting Volunteer: Volunteers offer emotional and respite (non-medical) support to a person/family living in the community,
  • Residential Hospice: Volunteer visits with a resident in the hospice.
  • Help is also needed for Kitchen, Housekeeping/ Maintenance, Special Events, Office/Administrative Support, and Board Membership.
The Hospice is now setting up training sessions in February and March 2020. For more information and volunteer applications go to the Volunteer page of the Kemp Hospice website. Or contact Karen Nowicki, Volunteer Administrative Assistant, 905-387-2448, Ext. 2208.

There are a variety of roles for volunteers in hospice and palliative care programs. Each program requires specific training for its volunteers. Although the experience recounted below by the friend of a MURA member did not take place at the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice, we hope that it will inspire you to consider volunteering there or in a similar setting.

A personal account from a Palliative Care Volunteer

As reported to a MURA member

For several years while living in Dunnville, Ontario, I served as a volunteer palliative care worker with Haldimand-Norfolk Senior Support Services, and also served as a member of the organization’s board of directors. To prepare for this, I was required to take a course at Fanshawe College. The job involved visiting clients who had been deemed palliative and acting as an advocate for the client in contacts with family, medical professionals and clergy. Of course, between the volunteer and the client, confidentiality was absolutely essential. Each volunteer was assigned a client and the assignment would continue until the client passed away. I was personally present when one of my clients passed. While this kind of work is not for everyone, I found it the most fulfilling I have ever done. I truly felt that I was making a positive difference, and this was confirmed for me in comments and notes from clients and families.

Mac Research Study needs Women 60–75

Effects of n-3 PUFA supplementation on healthy older women undergoing unilateral knee Immobilization; Principal Investigator: Dr. Stuart Phillips, Department of Kinesiology

Healthy, non-smoking, non-diabetic women between the ages of 60-75 years are needed for this study, which will investigate the effects of fish oil supplementation on muscle growth during single leg immobilization.

Participants will undergo 7 weeks of supplementation, including 1 week of one legged immobilization. Muscle mass and strength will be measured during weekly visits to campus.

Participants will be compensated for their time.

Please contact Mr. Jonathan Mcleod; phone 647-628-1287 for more information.

Exam Hospitality Fall 2019 @ McMaster

Volunteers are being welcomed to help out for exam drop-in this December. We are looking for individuals who would like to spend time with students dropping in for a coffee break from studying. The shifts are from 5:30pm - 7:15pm or 7:15pm - 9:00pm. Drop-ins are hosted Sunday, December 8 until Wednesday, December 18 excluding Saturday, December 14. We also welcome cookie donations (store bought or homemade — peanut free).

If interested, please contact Kristine Sabido at or call 905-525-9140 x24207.

Computer Tips & Tricks

Sharing Photos and Other Large Files – Alternatives to Email

by Nora Gaskin

Sending photos and other large files by email isn’t always ideal: your email account may not be able to handle files over 25MB in size; your recipient’s account may not accept them; and storage space is eaten up by large files sitting in sent mail, inboxes and trash folders. Workarounds like file compression or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) exist, but there are better, easier alternatives.

File transfer services allow users to share files, such as documents, data, photos and video over the web for other people to download, on either a mobile device or desktop computer. Some of these services are also an excellent way to work on projects collaboratively. Here are three of the most popular:


After creating an account and downloading the app, create a new folder in Dropbox, and upload your photos to it. Right-click the folder, and in the resulting dropdown menu, choose “Copy Dropbox link”. On a mobile device, you’ll find a link icon when viewing the folder within the Dropbox app.

You can now share this link with family and friends, and only those who have the link will be able to view the album and/or download photos to their own computer. You can also share videos, documents, presentations, etc. and set up shared folders where others can contribute content if you like.

Google Drive

If you already have a Google account, you have access to Google Drive. If not, you can set one up for free. On a desktop, you can either download the app, or simply use a web browser like Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer to upload files.


  • established 2009
  • unlimited free storage
  • 2GB limit per transfer for a free account
  • files remain for 28 days
  • neither you nor your recipients need an account for files under 2GB

Perhaps the simplest service to use, WeTransfer only requires a web browser. Go to the URL above, click “add your files” or “select a folder” and select the file or folder you want to send. Type the recipient’s email address, your email address, and an optional accompanying message, then click “transfer” – that’s all there is to it! The recipient will receive an email with a link to download the file; you will receive an email saying the link was sent, and another email confirming that your recipient has downloaded the file.

One MURA Member’s Personal Experience with a Phone Scam

by Marju Drynan

It was just after 8:30 in the morning when the phone rang. The call was from a 647 area code, but nothing I recognized. Just curious, I answered. A man's voice with a strong foreign accent told me that he was calling from Visa Headquarters, and that they had noticed an unusual charge at 5 o’clock that morning against my Visa card – it was for some speakers from eBay. I confirmed that I do buy things online, but that this charge was not mine – I had not bought anything from eBay in months.

I could hear background noises, such as might come from a shared office space or call centre, and our connection kept breaking up. When I repeatedly complained about this, he switched to a much better line, one where there were no background sounds. The caller then gave my name and address, which I confirmed, and asked whether the first four numbers of my Visa card were xxxx, which I also confirmed.

The red flag did not really go up until he asked for the number of my bank access card! I promptly refused further conversation with him, and told him I would go to the bank to check this out – at that, he told me that he was cancelling my Visa card and freezing my bank access card immediately. I hung up.

A visit to the bank confirmed that all was in order with my Visa card. I was informed that the first four digits of anyone's Visa card are common to thousands of their customers.

On the mornings of the following two days I got exactly the same voice mail, from two other 647 numbers, with the female caller speaking perfect English. Of course, I just deleted those messages.

Hard to believe how close I came to being successfully Vished!


‘Vishing’ is the telephone equivalent of phishing. Vishing uses telephone calls and messages in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for financial and identity theft. The scammer usually pretends to be a legitimate business. ‘Phishing’ uses email for the same purpose.

For more information on telephone scams, see another article by Marju in the Summer 2018 issue of MURAnews.

Other News

CURAC logo

Have you seen the latest news from CURAC?

MURA is one of 40 retiree associations from across Canada belonging to CURAC/ARUCC (College and University Retiree Associations of Canada /Associations de retraités des universités et collèges du Canada). As a federation of retiree associations, CURAC represents some 15,000 university and college retirees through its member associations. A Board of Directors and a number of committees, all made up of volunteers from member retiree associations, manage the day-to-day business of CURAC. CURAC’s modest budget is derived mainly from dues paid by member associations such as MURA.

Communication between CURAC and members like you takes place through MURA Council and similar governing bodies at each association. From time to time, MURA may forward email messages to you from CURAC.

To see the latest news from CURAC, visit the MURA web site. You will find links there to the Summer 2019 issue of the CURAC newsletter in two formats (an attractive PDF document and an easy-to-read web version) as well as past issues.

For more information on CURAC, visit

Welcome New Members

Lori Barker, McMaster Children's Centre
Clealand Berwick, Science and Engineering Machine Shop
Kenrick Chin, Physics & Astronomy
Sheree Cox, Mathematics & Statistics
Olga Cannon, Sociology
Jeanette Hunter, DeGroote School of Business
Margot Loosley-Millman, Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Cheryl Missiuna, Rehabilitation Science
Gabriel Ronen, Pediatrics
Joseph Rose, DeGroote School of Business
Henriette Silman, Student Accessibility Services

Recent Passings

Douglas Clifford, Security, July 31/19
Douglas Davidson, Biology, Aug. 15/19
Mohamed Dokainish, Mechanical Engineering, Aug. 26/19
Pierette Gaulin, Modern Languages & Linguistics, Aug. 22/19
Margaret Ivan, Building Operations, July 11/19
Zdenek Konicek, School of the Arts, Sept. 28/19
Walter Luxon, Physical Plant, Aug. 13/19
James MacDougall, Kinesiology, June 25/19
Mark McDermott, Pathology, Aug. 13/19
Larry Roberts, Psychology Neuroscience & Behaviour, July 17/19
Dusky Lee Smith, Sociology, Aug. 7/19

Parking Permit Expiry Renewal Reminder

Retiree parking permits are issued on a 12-month basis and must be renewed annually. Renew prior to your expiry date, online or in person at the Parking Office (T32 room 106, or Campus Store). Your transponder number is on the front of your transponder. If you have questions or have not made a note of your expiry date, please contact McMaster Parking Services by email at or at 905-525-9140 ext. 24232.

Note that central-campus parking (with a transponder) is available to McMaster Retirees as follows:
  • May to August each year:
    • Access to lots B, C, D, H, I, K, M, N, P and Underground Stadium at all times.
  • September to April each year:
  • Access to Lots B, C, D and I will be permitted after 12:30 pm on weekdays.
  • Access to Lots H, K, M, N, P and Underground Stadium at all times on weekdays.
  • Access to Lots B, C, D, H, I, K, M, N, P and Underground Stadium at all times on weekends and holidays.
A note to retirees without parking transponders
Free parking on campus is available to retirees. To take advantage of this perk, go to the McMaster Parking Services web page or visit the Parking Office in Room 106 in T32 (building adjacent to the McMaster Children's Centre) between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. There is also service available at the Parking Services and Photo Identification Kiosk in the Campus Store in Gilmour Hall; call (905) 525-9140 extension 23018 for current hours of operation.

A Message from the Unifor Retired Workers Chapter

Some of you may not know that Unifor Local 5555 has a Retired Workers Chapter.

I would like to extend an invitation to you to be part of this group. The Chapter welcomes retirees from Unifor Local 5555, CAW Local 555 (Unifor’s predecessor) and MUSA (CAW’s predecessor). Essentially any and all retired non-management, non-academic, administrative, professional or technical retirees can participate. The Chapter also welcomes those retired from Parking Services staff positions or as Special Constables, and Regional Medical Associates retirees.

The Chapter’s role is determined by the people who participate in it. It’s a place for retired members of Local 5555 to participate in social activities with their colleagues and to keep in touch with what is happening at their local and within the workplaces they retired from. The Chapter will work with the Local Executive on issues that are important to retirees (for example benefits & pensions), attend talks and workshops on issues of interest to retirees, offer exercise programs to keep retirees fit and active, and encourage members to participate in events, rallies and political activities related to retirees and their families.

Local 5555’s Retired Workers Chapter is neither part of, nor in competition with MURA, whose membership includes all retirees of the University. Local 5555 continues to support MURA financially, and we collaborate on issues of concern to all retirees.

The Local’s Retired Workers Chapter meetings are held on the last Tuesday of each month, from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon. Meetings are held at the Local’s administrative office located at 86 Hester Street. If you have an interest in learning more about the Chapter, keeping in touch with your colleagues or being part of something that will keep your mind and body active, please email

I hope you are truly enjoying your retirement.

Rosemary Viola, Chairperson
Unifor 5555 Retired Workers Chapter

Website:  Retired Workers Committee
Facebook: @RWC5555

Let Us Know If We Can Stop Mailing MURAnews to YOU

Please help MURA’s budget by opting out of the postal mailing of MURAnews. Email the Membership Chair, Kathy Overholt, at or leave a message on the MURA phone (905-525-9140, extension 23171).

You can print your own MURAnews from the PDF copy we send by email, or just click the link in the email and read online. Current and past issues of MURAnews can be found online.

If you do not have access to a computer and would like a copy of any of the items for which we have provided computer links, please leave a message on the MURA phone (905-525-9140, extension 23171) and we will print a copy and mail it to you.

MURAnews is produced by MURA members Denise Anderson (Production Editor), Helen Barton, Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting, Marju Drynan, John Horsman, Mary Johnston (News Editor for this issue), and Kathy Overholt. We welcome submissions from MURA members.

© 2021 McMaster University Retirees Association | Having trouble with this site? Contact our Webmaster.

MURA, McMaster University, Gilmour Hall Room B108, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L8

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software