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A Man for All Seasons

Charlie Baillie traced his family from Scotland to India to Canada; now we trace Charlie from Canada to Vero Beach

The Windsor dunes provide a serene backdrop for this Officer of the Order of Canada.

The Windsor dunes provide a serene backdrop for this Officer of the Order of Canada.

Like Gaul in Julius Caesar’s statement, “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres,” Alexander Charles Baillie’s career is divided into three parts. The accomplished banker/chancellor/author, who goes by Charlie, started off rising through the ranks of Toronto Dominion Bank in Canada, eventually becoming CEO in 1997. In 2002, he was appointed chancellor of Queen’s University in Toronto, where he served for six years. And, most recently, in his book, “Call of Empire: From the Highlands to Hindostan,” he tells the history of his Scottish ancestors’ involvement with the East India Company.

These three distinct and demanding careers provide a window into a cerebral, dynamic and well-grounded man. When asked what accounted for his success in such diverse areas, Charlie replies, “I had very supportive parents. I was raised in a nurturing atmosphere in Orillia, a small Canadian town of some 20,000 people. As a child, my mother read to me every night.” Initially attending local public schools, Charlie completed his final two years of secondary school at the prestigious University of Toronto Schools while living with a good friend who was also a student there. “This experience opened many doors, particularly exposing me to a valuable study of history, a serious and lifelong interest,” he says. 

Charlie attended college at the University of Toronto, where he majored in political science and was enrolled in an economics honors program. He then enrolled at Harvard Business School, graduating in 1964 with an MBA. All was going according to plan. Charlie remembers that as early as ninth grade, taking a cue from an older idol, he was determined to attend Harvard Business School and eventually head up a major corporation. After graduation from business school, when it was time to choose an institution to work for, sentiment won out. Charlie says, “I chose Toronto Dominion Bank because my grandfather had been a senior officer in the predecessor Dominion Bank.”