Thank-you for your email, good to hear from you as always.
I sent that particular blog – “Old Hat” – to a number of my closer friends and acquaintances whom I wished to inform of our present travel plans as we shift from the usual simple Florida menu for the winter to new possibilities. I hadn’t anticipated that the blog would excite such interest in my personal profligacy! Re-opening my historical manoeuvres has unwittingly characterized me as a schemer!
As for the spendthrift nature of my financial record, I crawl! I quickly learned upon opening my own law practice (and having purchased the law practice of my predecessor Raymond Algernon Jamieson QC) that bankers were in the business of selling money. In fact from the very beginning of my sole practitioner’s model, my banker literally said to me in response to my plea for money, “Are you sure that is enough? Wouldn’t you want more money?”
In fact, I never took more money from that particular banker than I originally thought sufficient, but the experience taught me to expand my frontiers in the future. When I bought my office building for example, I borrowed more money than the purchase price!
Even when I suffered a decline in income during a pervasive economic downturn, and the banker suggested he was thereby restricted in the amount he could lend, I exploded with indignity and got him to meet my objective while encouraging him to tread lightly upon his internal banking boundaries. This chap – like the banker who initially funded my sole proprietorship – was a personal friend and occasional client.
I was so good at manufacturing reasons for borrowing that, when my friend Grant Jameson told me in 1978 that he wished he could afford a new BMW motor vehicle, I made a proposal to him. How much does the car cost? If he borrowed the money, what would the monthly payment be? What would that translate to weekly payments? Then, I suggested he tell (not ask) his employers at Perley-Roberston, Panet, Hill & McDougall, Barrs etc. that he wanted a weekly salary increase sufficient to cover the monthly lending payments. Grant arrived in Almonte within weeks to show me his new BMW! Poof! Magic!
I suspect the LLB attached to my name helped the bankers get over certain of the customary obstructions to lending. I would manufacture capital by getting it from “secured” (that is, mortgage registration) loans on other properties. When I purchased 25 acres of rural property, I bargained for a VTB (Vendor Take Bake) mortgage. The Vendor was a personal friend of mine; we broke the fast routinely each business day at the local restaurant. When I bought the apartment condominium in By Ward Market in Ottawa, it was enabled by money from other loans on other properties. When the loans related to investment properties I naturally ensured the accountant entered the borrowing costs as a deduction against my income. I liked using the lines of credit because the related mortgage security (if any) was always “open” for removal as required.
For years I got a new car every two or three years (depending on the borrowing contract for the initial purchase). Naturally a portion of the borrowing costs were shown as a deductible business expense. It was only after retirement that I actually paid my own cash for a car which I now replace every year (in deference to my acknowledgement that you can’t beat the automotive industry at their own game).
Nor was my extravagance limited to appraised investments. One rainy Thursday night in early 1980s I visited the Steinway retailer in Ottawa. We made a deal. The next day I attended the office of the manager of the Royal Bank of Canada and told him he had overnight arranged the purchase for me of a Steinway salon grand which then listed at $35,000 (I believe the identical piano today is over $106,000).
I relieve myself of punishment for my squandering by recalling that, 1) I never missed a payment to the bank; and, 2) all of the assets were sold upon my retirement or earlier for substantially more than I had paid. Even my old Steinway was sold 30 years later for the same price I had originally paid. I mention this in particular because the Steinway was bought by Peter Mansfield who is the architect of the new apartment building in which we now reside. I adore serendipity!
There is no question I adopted that traditional commercial posture of buoyancy. I felt that it was appropriate for me to have at least the appearance of success. I therefore spent whatever was required to embellish my office and home. This subdued my personal ambition while cultivating what I thought to be an agreeable environment for me and my clients.
I rest my case!
My present financial circumstances are by comparison far less engrossing. We have capitulated any further involvement in the subject to our financial advisors; this not only for professional purposes but also as one of several submissions to vicarious management in the event of subsequent incapacity. As I like to quip, if anything critical arises, Ask my lawyer! Or my accountant! Or the funeral director!
Trust you and your family are well. Any news? Is your daughter (the model) still thriving?
L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
Barrister, Solicitor & Notary Public (ret’d)Riverfront Estates
225 Johanna Street
Almonte, ON K0A 1A0Cellular:
On Aug 5, 2023, at 9:50 AM, Daniel Laprès wrote:
Thanks for the essay, as usual delightful to read.
BUT, these sentences, very amusing for sure:
“After having spent a lifetime not having to bear deprivation, I am currently adapting myself to today’s economic reality. My erstwhile extravagance was predominantly the product of lines of credit with every chartered bank in the Dominion of Canada (with an immodest measure of succour from the mortgage securities).”
This is the exact opposite of how I imagined you to have led your “country solicitor” life.
Say it ain’t so, Joe . . . please!!!!!!
But, perhaps, we have more in common than I knew!!!!
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Daniel Arthur Laprès
Avocat au Barreau de Paris
Barrister & Solicitor (Nova Scotia)
222 boulevard Saint-Germain
75007 Paris France
web site: www.lapres.net