Andrew Welch sees the big picture in everything he does.
The Caledon Enterprise & Erin Advocate
Alton resident Andrew Welch is surely a Renaissance man, maybe even a superman.
With talents as a take charge environmentalist, businessman, actor,
musician, facilitator, IT specialist, writer and mountain climber,
Welch sees the big picture in everything he does, a talent, which is
having an impact right here in Caledon.
Born in Scotland, and raised largely in Halifax, Welch got hooked on
computer programming in Grade 8 while taking classes at the Nova Scotia
Institute of Technology.
From 1980 to1984, Welch studied mathematics at the University of
Waterloo, where several co-op positions introduced him to leading-edge
software design for medical technology systems.
While at Waterloo, Welch developed a passion for performing arts.
Waterloo's little theatre scene was a dynamic place in those days, and
proved an irresistible diversion from his studies. With his imposing
six-foot-frame, striking looks, and baritone voice, Welch has been in
great demand for many years in film, television, and stage productions.
In both volunteer and professional capacities, he has had many roles
before the footlights, but also backstage, as designer, stage manager,
director, and playwright. Andrew's six-page theatrical résumé lists his
involvement with many of the more interesting productions in Southern
Ontario for the last 25 years.
In 2004, Welch moved with his equally talented fiancé, Elswyth, from
Toronto to Alton and 'retired' from his full-time gig in the medical
software and corporate worlds.
He decided it was time to choose what he wanted to do, and could afford
the luxury of being a consultant, selecting the projects he found
interesting. He was determined to combine his three passions: climbing,
theatre and corporate business, and founded the Canadian Experiential
Education Practitioners Symposium (CEEPS), as well as his consulting
But, it is Welch's environmental ethic that perhaps defines him the most these days.
From his early childhood, Welch's parents instilled in him a 'waste
not, want not' ideal. Seeing the big picture of environmental issues in
Caledon, and the world, Welch and Elswyth wanted to ensure their home
had a small ecological footprint.
When planning their move out of Toronto, Andrew wanted to build an
earth sheltered, passive solar house, perhaps in Pickering. He had his
design almost completed when his wife discovered a house for sale in
Alton. As it was similar to the house they were planning, it made sense
to make the move to Alton rather than build from scratch.
While the house required considerable renovation, it fit the bill for
the low energy criteria they had in mind. It was built into a hill, the
lower level below ground, with south facing windows for passive solar
collection. The property also had a wooded bush area for the beehives,
which now yield their wonderful Aanimad honey, and an added bonus was
the stunning southerly view of the Caledon Hills and sufficient space
for the large vegetable gardens they planned.
During their first experience of a blustery Caledon Mountain winter,
Welch realized the new hilltop locale might have good potential for
wind power generation. He installed a small turbine on a forty-six-foot
tower, and a bank of power storage batteries in the garage. The home is
by no means off the grid, but the wind generation system is now
supplying all the power required to run the refrigerator and the home's
computer systems. Should there be power surplus to the home's
requirements, it could, in theory, be directed into the Ontario Hydro
grid, resulting in revenue.
While getting the wind system up and running, Welch realized there were
gaps in the information he required to understand how the system was
working for him.
From scratch, he designed completely new computer software (WattPlot)
to track both wind and solar generated power, along with system
"The software has the ability to adjust the system to optimize power
production," he explains. "It is a system which gives its users the
ability to have an awareness of the details of their own power usage,
and enables a paradigm shift in the way we use power."
Discussing those monitoring aspects of his wind turbine with other
off-grid power aficionados over the internet allowed Welch to refine
his system. He then received inquiries about perhaps selling the
software to other wind and solar power users.
One thing led to another and Welch found himself presenting his system
at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Wisconsin, earlier this year.
He now receives sufficient volume of internet orders for the software
that he has completely recouped the costs of his wind generator system
and has a regular income from those sales.
Welch's interesting mind leads him constantly into new ideas and new avenues for exploration.
As if being a mathematician, actor, musician, software designer and
management consultant were not enough, Welch is poised to add 'writer'
and 'author' to his list of achievements.
Later this year, he hopes to publish his non-fiction book: "A Lack of
Currency," which he describes as "an exploration of money, value
systems, corporations and global issues."
Welch is also very willing to share his talents for charitable
purposes. This coming November, in conjunction with the Claude Fiddle
Club, he will present his dramatic reading of Charles Dickens' A
Christmas Carol, at Caledon's Claude Church, to benefit the food bank
of Caledon Community Services.
It promises to be a wonderful evening, with Welch playing all the parts
- from Scrooge, to Bob Cratchit, and even Tiny Tim, in his inimitable