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After almost a century in Nelson, B.C., the last Greyhound rolls through





Seventy-five-year-old Helena Petkau waits patiently for the Greyhound to roll into Nelson B.C.’s bus depot at the back of a shopping mall.

Petkau is from Richmond and takes the Greyhound to see her daughter in Kelowna and grandson in Nelson every couple of months.

She’s not sure what she’ll do when the bus service ends.

“I am shattered by it. I can’t believe they are actually doing it. I don’t know how I will get back here to see my grandson,” said Petkau.

Helena Petkau has been taking the Greyhound bus for years. She says it will be missed. (Bob Keating)

The last Greyhound is scheduled to pull out of Nelson on Sunday. A handwritten sign in the depot reads “last bus east October 27, last bus west October 28.”

It’s the end of a vital service for people like Petkau and the culmination of 100 years of history in Nelson, where Canadian Greyhound Coaches Ltd. began.

The story opens with John Learmonth, a businessman who built all sorts of things in his shop just outside Nelson. As the First World War ended in 1918, Learmonth saw the need for a bus service to ply the rutted wagon track between Nelson and nearby Balfour.

So, Learmonth modified a one tonne Oldsmobile — building seats in the back for passengers. His grandson, Vic Learmonth, has a working model of the century-old bus.

Vic Learmonth poses for a photo in front of models of his grandfather’s buses. (Bob Keating)

“He’d haul freight by day and then had a passenger service, morning and night, from Balfour,” said Learmonth.

The service proved to be so popular that Learmonth built a second, larger bus on the frame of a Packard automobile. With that, Learmonth Motor Coach was born, and it ran from 1925 until 1929 when the company was bought by Barney Olson and incorporated as Canadian Greyhound Coaches — with Learmonth’s Packard continuing the run between Nelson and Trail.

Learmonth’s modified version of a Packard automobile. (Burt Learmonth)

“He seemed pretty proud of it. I was awfully young then, but I know he was strict about how people drove and the whole professional attitude of his people. So I would think he had a lot of pride in doing it,” said Vic Learmonth. 

In 1930, Greyhound set up shop in Calgary, building one of the most ornate terminals in North America, and, in 1940, the company sold to the Greyhound Corporation in the United States. The new transcontinental service grew in the 1950s when tourism and long distance travel began to take off.

Greyhound flourished until the beginning of this century when flying became more affordable, vehicle ownership went up and travellers stopped seeing the bus as an option. This summer, the company announced the cancellation of almost all its service to western Canada, ending passenger and freight service in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and cancelling all but one route in B.C. — the run between Vancouver and Seattle.

The changes make Ontario and Quebec the only regions where the familiar Greyhound logo will continue to roll across Canadian highways.

“It’s been run into the ground by management from Dallas, Texas,” said Tom Lymbry, a historian who’s written extensively about Greyhound.

Learmonth’s buses were loaded on ferries during the early 20th century. (Burt Learmonth)

Lymbry can remember when Greyhound buses were loaded on a paddlewheeler to cross Kootenay Lake outside his home. This summer, he celebrated his 90th birthday with a trip to the Yukon where he interviewed retired Greyhound bus drivers and workers.

“And all of the depot people blamed Texas for the disaster,” says Lymbry.

Lymbry has organized one final trip on the last Greyhound on Saturday from Nelson to Grand Forks. He says it will be a sad journey.

Vic Learmonth will be onboard, remembering how his grandfather helped start the company a century ago. Helena Petkau won’t be making the trip and says she may never get on another Greyhound again.

“I’m really gonna miss it,” she said. “It’s deteriorated over the recent past, and so, that was sad, but it’s a great ride.”

With files from Bob Keating


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Real Estate

Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom





MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Real Estate

Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices





NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments





TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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