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2. Who Am I?

Alan Chalmers

 I was born in February 1942.  My parents were living in Bristol England where my Dad was an aircraft engineer.  When my due date was near Mum took the train to Scotland, wanting me to be born there in case I ever had the opportunity to play soccer for Scotland. It never happened, but I did represent Scotland in Table Tennis and Archery. Sandra my wife also shot on the Scottish Archery team, so my Mum’s trip, arduous as it was, was not in vain.

 We returned to Scotland after the war when I was 5, and in no time at all I lost my English accent.  We lived in Edinburgh where I attended school and passed all my A levels. I chose not to attend University as I had an opportunity to be an apprentice Cartographer, a person who compiles and draws maps. In those days maps were hand drawn and lettered, in fact we lettered backwards on glass with a brush then it was reversed for printing.  


We also printed Scottish bank notes for the Mint. The odd time the numbers on the notes didn’t print too clearly and I would have to touch them up by hand rather than rerun the presses and waste the bad ones as the special paper was accounted for.

After 5 years I completed my training and became a fully qualified Cartographer.  One of my duties was to read the London Times in search of geographical information around the world (not an onerous task).  One day I saw an ad for a Cartographer in London
for an American oil co. to map the land under the North Sea. I applied and got the job.  It was a 2 year contract and I moved to London.  I was engaged to my beautiful wife Sandra and wrote to her every day (she still has all the letters)  I came home in February 1965 to be married. After a skiing honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands we moved down to London for me to finish my contract.  It was gratifying after the contract was finished, they discovered oil under the North Sea, to think that I had drawn the maps.

We then moved back to Edinburgh
in late 1965 and I worked for John Bartholomew & Sons who were the premier map makers in Britain.  In 1968 we decided to emigrate to Canada for two years as an adventure before returning to Edinburgh and starting a family, well 41 years later we are still here.

 We arrived in Toronto October ’68, I had on a tweed suit and carried a sheepskin coat, it was 76 degrees.  We stayed with friends of friends for two weeks until we found an apartment.  I had arranged 12 interviews before we arrived and accepted a job with the Dept of Mines in Toronto mapping the land in Northern Ontario.  My love of cars surfaced and as we were only here for what we thought was 2 years I decided to try something a little more exciting and thought “I will sell cars.” Here I am 41 years later still selling cars.

I started at Rumble Pontiac in Toronto.  I went into the Dealership and asked for the General Manager, told him I had no experience but if he hired me and I didn’t sell anything he didn’t have to pay me.  He said “Son, that’s what we do in this country, it’s called commission.”  I sold for 4 years and in 1972 became a Sales Manager.  In 1976 I took a job offer at Grant Brown Cadillac as Sales Manager. We were the largest GM dealership in Toronto selling 300 retail new vehicles a month with only myself and an assistant and 16 salespeople.  Then I moved to London Ont, as a General Manager.

 In between these moves we had two beautiful daughters. Lori was born in 1971 and Lesley in 1973.

 Bill Stedelbauer and I had been friends, so when the Stedelbauers bought Orr’s in Kitchener in 1979 I joined them as the General Manager. In 1982 I became the Nissan Dealer in Waterloo in partnership with Bill.  I sold out to Bill in 1985. I went over the street to Forbes Motors as their Vice President and General Manager and have been there ever since.

 In 2007 when I hit 65 I decided to reduce my workload and became the General Manager of the Cadillac Division, selling cars to friends and past/new , but not just restricted to Cadillacs. I work 3 ½ days in the summer leaving time for golf.

 I have always been a believer in Community work..  I’ve been President of Kiwanis, The Sales & Ad club and Westmount Golf Club.  Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, 25 years on the Sign Variance Committee for Waterloo and Founding Director of Crimestoppers in 1986 where I met Gord Ferguson.

Sandra and I have been Married 45 years and now have two wonderful grandchildren to add to our family - Tyler 7 and Avery 5.

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