Skip to main content


A Brief History of Inorganic Discussion Weekends 

{Reprinted with slight modification from the Programme of the 1988 IDW} 

October 11-16, 1988

The first IDW took place when, in 1968, Barry Lever (York) booked rooms at The Guild Inn, on the Scarborough Bluffs, and asked his inorganic friends to drop over. Some 37 people attended this first conference. [...]

This first meeting was very successful, with no-one falling off the Bluffs despite the instant traditions which were created at that weekend, e.g the need to ingest significant quantities of a liquid  organic substance to lubricate the scientific discussions. While still under the influence of this organic substance it was readily agreed that a second such meeting should be held, and that the organisation of that meeting should fall to another southern Ontario university.

Thus was laid the groundwork for the series of IDWs held annually, across Ontario, without break from that date. The format of a Friday evening mixer, Saturday and Sunday sessions, and a Saturday evening dinner were laid down at that first meeting and have continued largely unchanged, except that we are constrained now to get up earlier on Sunday morning.

Indeed this IDW is innovative having three Keynote Lectures. In the past, longer special lectures have only rarely been incorporated into the programme. The BBQ is also unique, since for the first time a social function will close the meeting. 

During the part 20 years the attendance has climbed to the 80-120 level and the emphasis has shifted towards giving graduate students and port-doctoral fellows the opportunity to present lectures. We have also welcomed participants from northern New York State, eastern Michigan, Quebec, and points further afield. During this 20 year period, the popularity of poster presentations has grown so that now the poster session, also lubricated, contains a substantial fraction of the science presented. It is also commonly a component of the opening Friday evening mixer session. The idea of the weekend discussion group has also caught on, being copied by  inorganic, organic and physical communities across the country. [...]

A.B.P. Lever

Updated on August 26th, 2013.