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Personal Account

Personal Account

25 Tales About Leadership, Learning, and Legacy from a Lifetime at Bank of Montreal
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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Once a Bitcoin Miner

Once a Bitcoin Miner

Scandal and Turmoil in the Cryptocurrency Wild West
edition:Paperback
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Excerpt

 

There was a presentation by Bitwage, which offers a service that allows companies to pay their employees with cryptocurrency. I had been working on a second cryptocurrency article about that very subject, to coincide with Labor Day, and at that event, I met a lot who were taking salaries in Bitcoin—some entirely.

 

One of them was Gerald Cotten, a bright-eyed, sandy-haired 20-something, who like Mt. Gox’s Frenchman Mark Karpeles, seemed to be always smiling. Gerry, as he was known, had founded the exchange platform QuadrigaCX, where people can buy and sell cryptocurrency, and five years later, would die in India and send shockwaves across and beyond the cryptocurrency world—but that is a whole other story.

 

A business-school graduate, Gerry was a fixture in the Toronto’s burgeoning cryptocurrency scene, attending Anthony’s meetups even before the latter had secured his fashion-district building. Reserved, private and an avid player of Settlers of Catan, a nerdy, nerdy strategy board game, Gerry carefully avoided gluten and drank cider instead of beer due to digestive issues.

 

Gerry shook my hand and handed me a black business card, white text upon a dark, perforated steel theme. It was nice-looking, but it was clearly not made by a professional. There were at least three different types of fonts on it.

 

I had known Gerry a little by reputation, but of course, that was not unusual. At the time, there was few places in Canada where you could easily buy and sell cryptocurrency in an organized fashion, with Canadian dollars. Everyone knew Gerry and Quadriga. Aren’t you in Vancouver? I asked.

 

Oh, no, Gerry said, we were, but we just moved to Toronto.

 

I asked Gerry about Quadriga. It was then only nine months old, and it wasn’t doing that well. Only C$7.4 million worth of bitcoin traded hands on the platform that year, and it took in a meager C$22,168 in revenue December 2014 through January 2015, against almost four times that in losses.

 

Yet Gerry had gone all in. “I make all my money in Bitcoin,” he said. He was in for the long haul, a steadfast believer in the future of cryptocurrency.

 

For a while, I almost forgot about all the money I had lost. There was something oddly inspiring about Gerry. I decided to hold on to my Bitcoin.

 

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The Company

The Company

The Rise and Fall of the Hudson's Bay Empire
edition:Hardcover
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Fight or Submit
Excerpt

 

The flight from Kiev, where I have business interests, to my community in the interior of British Columbia is close to 12,000 kms. With stops in Amsterdam and Calgary, it takes 26 hours from the time my driver, Volodya, picks me up my flat near Bessarabska Square and I arrive at my Westbank office in the British Columbia interior. It is a flight I take back and forth several times a year, often after several months-long stays. But each time I arrive on the last leg of the trip from Calgary to Kelowna, I feel a surge of energy as we pass over the towering peaks of the outer Rockies and begin our descent onto the interior plateau where my Okanagan people have lived since time immemorial. My Indigenous territory is part of me. It belongs to me and I belong to it. Or rather, what’s left of it.

 

The airport is on the other end of town, so while we chat, we pass through the heart of the city where my great grandfather once owned a major part of the downtown area before he was cheated out of it by locals working with a corrupt magistrate.

 

The Westbank reserve is on the west side of the W.A.C. Bennett Bridge spanning the narrow section of Lake Okanagan. It is one of a few tiny pieces of the once vast Okanagan territory that remains under our control. I was born and grew up in a shack without plumbing or electricity on the hills overlooking the lake. My earliest memories are of kneeling in the field, gathering vegetables alongside my mother. And, when I was older, riding our horses along the ridge with my brother Noll. As a young man, I ranched these lands and for more than a dozen years, in the 1970s and 1980s and again at the turn of the century, I was Chief of the Westbank First Nation.

 

Both sides of the road cutting through the reserve are now crowded with stores and businesses on leased reserve lands in deals I negotiated to bring income into what was once the poorest reserve in Canada. During my first ten years as chief, I increased the band’s leasing revenues by more than 3,500%. I fought for every advantage for my people so we could have the economic development we needed to give a future to our children. But I always fought for more than that. I fought and I continue to fight for the land and the resources on our greater Okanagan territory that encompasses thousands of square kilometres in the B.C. interior.

 

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Picking Winners

Picking Winners

The Inside Story from Scott Fraser, co-founder of the Legendary Investment firm, Jarislowsky Fraser
edition:Hardcover
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Peace by Chocolate

Peace by Chocolate

The Hadhad Family’s Remarkable Journey from Syria to Canada
edition:Paperback
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