The party’s over

It was my maternal grandfather who first got me interested in stocks. Robert R. Work was a retired druggist living in Toronto when I was a boy growing up in Guelph. I was about twelve when he told me that he owned some shares in a gold mine called Couchenour-Willans. “If it doubles, I’ll sell it, and give you half the proceeds,” he said. Soon after, he announced that he’d sold it and gave me $300.

There was no advance arrangement about what I was to do with the money, but reinvestment in the market seemed appropriate. My father subscribed to The Financial Post, then a weekly, so I read several issues of the paper and decided I’d buy Home Oil B. With the exception of a few lean years, I’ve owned shares in something ever since.

Maybe it was that same research that eventually led me into business journalism. Anyway, that deal my grandfather offered me was one of those moments in a young man’s life when a door opens and the future arrives.

For years my RSP portfolio was invested 60 per in equities. As a result, I, along with the rest of the world, went sailing off the cliff in 2008 when the global crisis arrived. I cut back to 40 per cent equities. During these last few days, even being 60 per cent in cash and fixed income seems too low.

After half a century of stock ownership, I’ve had enough. Returns during the last decade have been scant; the mayhem too great. Maybe the stock market works for a teenager but not for a senior. But thanks, Grandpa, I had a great ride.

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