Local banker ‘retires’ to farming

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Dorothy Gonneau and Laird Graham meet again after 42 years.

Scott Campbell

SHAWVILLE – The first time Laird Graham walked through bank doors as an employee was on October 9, 1969 at a Bank of Montreal branch in Pembroke. July 31, 2013 was Graham’s final day at the National Bank Branch on Main Street, for a total of 43 years in banking, 22 of those here.
“It was a great day and I saw lots of people. I was quite pleased,” said Graham. Along with stops in Deep River, Almonte and nine branches in Ottawa before finding his way to Shawville, he has crossed paths with many people, but one in particular who came to his farewell party caught him by surprise.
Dorothy Gonneau worked as a Loans Officer for the Bank of Montreal in Deep River. Gonneau taught Graham about loans processing as part of his branch administrative manager training.
“Dorothy thought I was hopeless,” Graham laughed. “She wanted perfection. I’ve told my colleagues why I always wanted things right; it’s because of her.” Gonneau’s visit was the first time Graham had seen her since his stint in Deep River back in 1971 (photo).
Graham has worn many hats over the years, from Commercial Account Manager in agriculture to Small Business Advisor, Branch Manager, Personal Loan Manager, Customer Service Manager and Personal Banking Advisor.
“The branch is changing again with a new mortgage system and I felt the time had come,” continued Graham on his decision to move. He and his wife Gayle operate Willow Lane Alpacas off Highway 148 in Bristol. They are now up to 27 animals. “With the alpaca business and in a busy season and the farm still growing, I can concentrate more on it.”