by Bill Grenier 




When he became a commercial pilot at age nineteen, Bill Grenier never imagined that one day he'd be a wealthy man.

But he would ultimately control an empire worth nearly a billion dollars - all on his days off from flying!

With liberal doses of wit and humour, Miles to Millions shows what a little luck, lots of perseverance, and an appetite for adventure can do.

From boarding house to boardroom, from cradle to cockpit, the reader will be along for the ride in this tale peppered with anecdotes that bring his story to life.

**Miles to Millions won a Bronze Medal for Canada at a ceremony New York city for non-fiction out of 6000 international entries. That award from the Independent Publishers Awards for Excellence.



Hard copies: Chapters/indigo bookstores, Canadian Aviator Magazine, or author's website (see below)

ebooks: Amazon, Kobo, iTunes

ISBN number 978-1987857-84-9. Use this number at any bookstore to find copies on hand  or for those stores to order copies.  

In most of BC CHAPTERS/INDIGO have stock available. Elsewhere they will order within a few days.

For ebooks on your Kindle or iPad just google Amazon or Indigo in the book section and request by Author (Bill Grenier) or title (Miles to Millions)

This also works for any of the other ebook publishers.





AUTHOR'S EMAIL:  billgrenier@shaw.ca


Bill Grenier (born Bill White) in Newfoundland, adopted by Jacques Grenier on his mothers remarriage, started his flight training at age 19 in Winnipeg Manitoba at the Winnipeg Flying club.  On the day of receiving his commercial license on his 20th birthday, and only a high school education, Bill obtained a flying job in the Canadian Arctic on the Distant Early Warning Line hauling freight from Churchill to the sites. A few months later he was accepted on the mainline with Canadian Pacific Airlines as temporary holiday relief.  After a short stint back on the DEW line Bill was accepted on a DC-3 course with Trans Canada Airlines October, 1957. Flying out of Winnipeg for the first 5 years on DC-3’s and Viscounts, a layoff came with the introduction of the DC-8’s.  Too many pilots and too few airplanes seemed the norm for most major airlines in North America in the early sixties. Thousands of pilots were on layoff.  Moving to Florida and obtaining a US Airline Transport Rating, Bill became a repo man around the US, picking up defaulted mortgage laden aircraft.  Dangerous but exhilarating.  Unlike the current TV glamour shows, this was early in the genre of repo.  Flying clapped-out un-maintained junk required a certain panache.

A call from General Electric put him back in the cockpit - now in the executive fleet for GE flying out of White Plains, NY.  After a two year stint there,  a recall from Air Canada saw him on Viscounts based in Toronto. Not satisfied with the living conditions in Toronto for a young family, Bill undertook a search for suitable land to build a home north of Pearson airport. A parcel of land of 86 acres became available. That purchase became the foundation for him to build a subdivision of 26 homes.

During his 30 years with TCA-Air Canada, Bill built a real estate company on his days off. At its crest, the Pagebrook Group of companies consisted of 53 individual and related companies all controlled by Bill as President and Chairman of the Board.  He also had a seat on the Toronto Stock Exchange.  Pagecorp (realty division) went public and an offer to purchase the division sold for $400 million one year later. Approximately 1200 pilots were shareholders in Pagecorp and Bill got a 98% positive response to go forward with the sale.  The major driver of the deal was the tax benefit  enjoyed by the shareholders.

The Federal Government had just introduced a $100,000 tax relief bill on capital gains so the timing was propitious. Most investors paid little or no income tax on the resulting transaction.

Bill, as Chairman of the Fair Rental Policy Organization,  (a lobby group representing 43,000 rental units) was seconded to the Ontario Government of David Peterson to Chair the Rent Review Advisory Committee to assist the Province in a balanced and more equitable rent control system. A new Government bill C-51 became law and was the result of six months of hard bargaining. Note the letters on Bill’s website (meet Bill page ) from the Premier.

Shortly thereafter, a consortium of banks enlisted him to salvage another public company, Mascan, to which he was appointed Chairman of the Board. That appointment resulted in another $400 million sale and a tripling of the share price to shareholders in less than 4 months.  At one point during this operation, nearly one billions dollars was under his control.  During all the time he was building the Pagebrook Group, he was was still flying his regular schedule with Air Canada. When asked if the two endeavours were conflicting, Bill replied in a public forum that making money was great in real estate but flying was still his number one choice for lifestyle. His loyalty lay with the company that gave him a 747 to take to Paris on the weekends and had provided so many opportunities to learn. And put bread on the table.

His pilots licence is endorsed with the following aircraft:  Avro 85 Yorks, Convair C-46, C-440, Douglas B-23, DC-3, DC-9, DC-8,  Vickers Viscount, Vanguard,  Gulfstream G-159, Boeing 747 and R 22, R44 Helicopters. 

But responsibility comes with burdens and there had to be a change.  With hundreds of people in his employ,  hundreds of millions of dollars in projects in-line with ongoing requests for his time, a choice had to be made.

The Canadian newspapers were often printing stories about the ‘airline pilot multi millionaire’ which brought unwelcome publicity to some of his efforts. While the left wing papers were consistent in their criticism of his effort to abate or cancel rent control, the conservative newsprint was upholding his work as a torchbearer.  The Ontario Securities Commission called and asked him to form a Board for succession…. “in case you run into a mountain and leave thousands of shareholders with no recourse” to quote the reporter. The OSC was concerned that they would be criticized if there was no board to take the helm. While not a legal responsibility, it was an issue which made sense; it was done. 

The sale of the assets from the public company was controversial in that some of the players who had been involved on a syndicate basis wanted a piece of the action to which they were not entitled. They took their complaint to the OSC and the newspapers. The OSC quite rightly dismissed their claim as unjustified but it left minor cloud over a brilliant deal for a few weeks until the verdict was in.

Bill retired at age 50 from the airline and went on to  build more hotels, condominiums and other real estate projects across Canada and in the USA. In addition to those endeavours, he bought and operated 3 ocean going cargo ships. On safari in Johannesburg,  South Africa, a local newspaper heralded a story about a Pagebrook ship (oil rig supply vessel) that ‘lassoed’ a major iceberg threatening a rig on its drift, and towed it out of the line of collision. That was a first for any ship and any rig.  A fellow pilot travelling with him asked “Can’t you go anywhere without getting in the newspaper?”  Rhetorical question but it showed the extent of the coverage and reach of the company Bill had built over a 15 year span.

Prior to retirement Bill owned an Oshkosh winning Grumman Widgeon which he had converted with higher horsepower engines. That kept his hand in flying and he then moved into helicopters and bought an R-44.  With projects in the Gulf Islands building another subdivision it made for easy oversight of the work in progress. Mountain flying added new thrills and new challenges. Swimming in a mountain lake never before having been touched by human hands was another adventure.

When one of his grandchildren asked how he got into flying, Bill realized that none of his 6 grandchildren has ever seen him in uniform, had any knowledge of his flying background or of his early start in aviation.  He then decided to write a memoir and dedicated it to his grandchildren.

Bill also decided to donate any funds from the sale to scholarships for young pilots trying to make their way in the aviation world. All income funds have therefore been dedicated to the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) to administer the awards. To date some $5000 has gone to that effort for which COPA awarded Bill the Award of Merit for…. ‘’Recognition of his personal contribution, commitment and expertise to personal aviation and our Freedom to Fly. 2016”

First published by his own company Pagebrook Publishing, the book was then picked up by a publisher in Victoria, Promontory Press. Deeming it worth the effort, the publisher insisted on a re-edit to shorten it from over 540 pages to under 400.  “It has to fit into a briefcase" said the editor.

Bill is a life member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society and was a Board member for several years. He is also a member of the Royal Canadian  Military Institute.  

Bill resides in Vancouver with his wife Sharon. Three sons by a previous marriage are Michael, a real estate developer, Guy a doctor, and Glenn a lawyer.

Bill Grenier is a member of the First Nations Ktaqamkuk Mi’kmaq Alliance of Newfoundland.



Hi Bill, The book arrived in fine condition and on time, thank you. It is brilliant and should be required reading for every student pilot that has had the  desire to fly. It is an inspiration for all of us to tell our own story.


This is truly a fascinating book on the life of an airline pilot in postwar Canada when the airline industry was beginning its climb to prominence in world travel. Captain Grenier has captured the time, with remarkable clarity and memory, of his life in Winnipeg and the start of a wonderful journey in aviation and the business world.  His very readable and very hard-to-put-down book will captivate and bring to life anyone who loves aviation. Fond memories of the good old days


Bill, I hope everyone finds it as enjoyable to read as I did You have enjoyed a unique career for an airline pilot, but very rewarding and you should feel proud of your achievements. Many thanks Bill. As a Pagebrook investor I never doubted your ability.


Captain Bill Grenier immerses readers in this absorbing and fast-paced book which intertwines aviation with his business acumen as a real estate and marine investor. Anecdotes from his odyssey as a fledging pilot in a Funk light airplane, a stint as a pilot for GE and his career with Air Canada grab attention. As a bold negotiator and persuader, Bill melded two disciplines into one very successful career. As his boss, I can attest to his exceptional skills! A terrific read!


In todays conventional wisdom, Bill Grenier would have had little hope of prospering in Canadian society. But this book is filled with anecdotes that are at times funny, poignant and fulfilling of the human spirit. Demonstrating courage, character, and hard work, Bills story provides more than enough evidence that dreams can overcome adversity. Within these pages you will fly with him, spot opportunities missed by others, and find out how he lived two uniquely fulfilling careers. An absorbing and interesting read which describes activities outside the bounds of most readers experiences.


Meet Bill Grenier, a captain not only of jumbo jets but also of finance, who wore both hats with equal panache and succeeded brilliantly in both of these demanding milieux with his secret recipe of skill, discipline, prudence and luck.This delightful memoir ranges from nail-biting aviation exploits (hence “miles”) to nail-biting business adventures (hence millions). In his dual captainship, Bill proved his mettle at the helm of airliners as well of corporations. He is a great story teller as well. His narrative is both captivating and occasionally, very funny. It seems there are many more great stories out there that havent been told yet. Lucky for us, Bill told his.  


An inspirational story of triumph over adversity, of determination in the face of overwhelming odds, and of the personal journey of a man with uncommon wisdom and integrity. This uplifting and entertaining saga of a Newfoundland boy who went from boarding schools to Air Canada Captain to successful developer will leave you chuckling and wanting more. A fascinating tale well told!


Dear Bill, thanks for sending me a copy of your book, From Miles to Millions! Congratulations for your Bronze Award, and I wish you continued success! Sincerely, John.



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