All I can say is “wow!! “… I am not a big reader at all but not only was it an easy read, your book held my interest and the more I read, the more amazed I was of the many trials, tribulations, sheer determination and inner strength you had throughout your life. Very impressive! I just wanted to say “hello” and how much I enjoyed your book … such an inspiration.
Bill got a call from a friend re your book. Needless to say, as soon as I got off the phone I downloaded onto my iPad and haven’t been able to put it down! Just finished and I really enjoyed it! Well done Bill!
Hello Bill, Greeting from Winnipeg. Just a quick note to tell you I just finished reading your book “From Miles to Millions” and to say how much I enjoyed it.
What a wonderful read. Knowing the author makes it a ‘living’ book and I found it hard to put down. With a personal interest in aviation and my day job with small business and entrepreneurs, I identified with so many of your observations and learnings but felt humbled by what you have accomplished and experienced in your lifetime. I firmly believe many of today’s budding entrepreneurs would benefit from reading your book. It would be most aspirational for them.
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 haven’t been told yet. Lucky for us, Bill told his.
I did receive your book. Well you scoundrel, you got me hooked! I did poke around it for and hour or so, and then got so fascinated I went back to the beginning and read the first 200 pages! It’s fun, engaging, well written.The idea of starting with the three stories and then getting into your early life was quite clever. Your first story with the double cockpit crises had its tension even though I knew you would have worked through it, but in telling the story you were able to describe a lot of what a commercial pilot goes through in carrying out his job, and that made it very interesting for me. The second anecdote, the repo one was a real hoot! (I’ve retold it a few times since reading it.) The Mascan affair, was interesting to read in detail and of course reflected that other non-pilot life of yours that that had been emerging in your life for a while.Your style is fluid and pulls one along easily.
Enjoying your book. And thinking of the many hundreds of hours that I sat by your side in The Mighty Eight. It was an honour, every minute. Warmest Regards, Scott
Dear Bill, I had the opportunity to read your book on my vacation to Antigua, It was a fun read, thanks very much.
HI Bill: My Wife wouldn’t let me start reading your book until Dec.25 as it was a Christmas present so, I got a late start. When I started the read I could hardly put it down. At about the three-quarters mark I realized this excellent book would soon be over so I slowed down and paced myself. I finally finished just minutes ago and want to say that you have produced a masterpiece.Thank-you.
Bill, I just finished reading your book. I wanted to jot a note and tell you that I really enjoyed it, it was a delight to read. Congratulations on your book. Happy landings.
Just finished your book. What a great read! Now we come to the mystery. Why was C-FUNK in Hamilton and what did we do to it? I can picture the a/c and I certainly remember the registration, but for the life on me I can’t remember what we did to the a/c. Now that was 30 odd years ago so you may not remember either, but if you do I would appreciate a brief update.
Just a short note to say how much I enjoyed your book.Had trouble putting it down at times! Thanks for a great read!
“Loved your book. The energy that jumped off each page revealed that you have already lived the life of 10 men. It was a relaxing read, though very inspiring. Waiting to hear about your next book”.
HI Bill, I absolutely loved your book, very beautiful, very much enjoyed; write another one!
I received the book in excellent condition and found it to be an outstanding read. I went through the first 480 pages in a few days and enjoyed every minute of your story. Finally I was very impressed by the integrity you showed in all of your business affairs. Congratulations on your success and may good fortune continue to follow you.
I just returned from a week off in Hawaii. I was saving your book to take with me and read while I was there,….. I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly, to the point that I could not put it down at times!! The two topics (real estate and flying) hit the mark for me as well.
Just finished reading “miles to millions”. > I know a fair amount about flying but very little about real estate developing. I found every chapter interesting and most enjoyable. Well done, Bill.
Very ” readable” and interesting from beginning to finish. So much fun in this narrative. I enjoyed and rejoiced in the antics and accomplishments of the young pilot who became more successful than he ever dared dream. You are a true story teller, Bill.
Bill, in my retired years, reading seems to be consumed by student papers and related professional material. Your book is way more interesting. The lens I bring to reading your book is one of leadership, an area of some expertise and passion. As you can imagine, the opening story of Bill sitting in the Captain’s chair, making life and death decisions about crew and passengers caught my interest, but for me it was all about the leadership and not the aviation skills that made it heart pounding. The book is truly a leadership story about a character that literature defines as a heroic leader. Not heroic in the traditional sense of the word, but rather in terms of strength of character, work ethic, risk taking, reward orientation, and organizational impact. It is a great leadership read!
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.
Hi Bill I thoroughly enjoyed your book. Let alone the excellent content, it was a memory catalyst for some of my own experiences long since forgotten. I enjoyed my time flying with you. You are no doubt responsible for some of my professional shaping which is good or bad depending on whom you speak with. I am very proud of your accomplishments. You have moved the profession up a notch. I really do marvel at what you have done with your life. Well done! All the best.
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”.
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Readers are often skeptical about reading autobiographies and self-published autobiographies are often on their “do not fly” list, but From Miles to Millions by Bill Grenier is in a different category from most autobiographies. For one thing the author claims it isn’t an autobiography. He says on the last page, “This book is not an autobiography. It is a memoir of events and anecdotes as I recollect them and therefore not necessarily in chronological order or complete.”
In his defence, Grenier signed up lots of professional help in the editing, proofreading and layout of the book and the final product is on par with any that you would find from the commercial publishers of Canada.
Even though it is a self-published autobiography there is no need to accuse the author of arrogance, as, at many points in the book he humbly addresses that. For instance, on page 274 he says, “it’s not exactly a chip on my shoulder – at times it is more like a block of wood.” But given the era of the story (1936-87) and his childhood experiences, the reader really wants to forgive him any shortcomings in that regard. If he had been reticent he couldn’t have done the things he accomplished in life in that period of history.
Also worth noting is that the book is for a good cause. His website says, “net proceeds from the sale of From Miles to Millions by Bill Grenier will be donated to aviation student scholarships.The author has sent the first installment of $2000 to the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association who will add it to the Neil Armstrong scholarship fund for the express purpose of assisting aviation students in their quest for advanced training in flying skills.” Now that is hard to take umbrage with! It is a book about aviation that will lead to future flying for some worthy young people.
This is the story of a person who learned to fly, worked his way though the dues-paying flying years making little money and then broke into corporate aviation and finally a job with Air Canada. He worked his way up in that famous company, too, becoming a 747 captain in that plane’s early days with the airline. He started a housing development to provide his family with a place to live and ended up spending his off days in the real estate business, gradually building up what became a large property development empire, Pagebrook. He took early retirement from Air Canada at age 50 in 1985 and dedicated himself to the real estate business full time. He covered many miles flying, but in the end made more dollars in real estate than miles flown, as he concludes in the book.
The book starts with a chapter detailing a dramatic pilot incapacitation incident combined with a non-retracted main gear on a fully-loaded Boeing 747 taking off from London and bound across the Atlantic for Canada. Grenier was first officer on that flight and managed to get the captain and the rest of the aircraft and crew home all in one piece. He offers this up as some of the most challenging flying that can be found on airline heavy iron and the chapter is a very engaging start to the book.
The second chapter goes back in time to the author’s days trying to scratch out a living flying in Florida in the early 1960s, when he ended up doing light airplane repossessions. He recounts many lessons he learned there in the deep south in that rather rough game. He goes on next to detail the day he was asked by a bank to take over and fix a large real estate development company, Mascan, that had fallen in arrears. Similar to the 747 incident in the first chapter, Grenier describes how he used the same sort of flying skills to tackle that job.
The author waits until the fourth chapter to go over his childhood and it was a rough one, full of conflict, violence and too much abuse and neglect for a small child. It isn’t hard to see where Grenier developed his approach to life, his drive to succeed and his “street smarts”. The chapter fits in well with the rest of his story.
Having owned many personal aircraft, the author dedicates one whole chapter to the clapped-out Funk B85C he and a friend bought as a time builder early in their aviation careers. You can feel his affection for the odd-ball and much-maligned plane shine through. Eventually he owned and restored another Funk B many years later, one that was later often flown by his youngest son and one-time COPA Board Member, Glenn Grenier. Today the younger Grenier is COPA’s legal counsel.
Other chapters give accounts his flying on the DEW line construction in DC-3s and Avro Yorks, his early days getting hired by and then laid-off by Trans Canada Airlines, which left him having to move to the US to feed his young family and led to the airplane repo job. His big break was being hired by General Electric for their corporate aviation department, a place he worked and honed his flying skills on aircraft like the Convair 440 and Grumman Gulfstream I.
Finally he was recalled to Trans Canada, now Air Canada, and flew Viscounts, Vanguards, DC-8s and ultimately the 747 there. It was during this time that he got into real estate development in Toronto and he relates many of the lessons learned in that business as well.
The book is approximately half aviation and half business stories, but it is a very worthwhile work for anyone interested in either field of endeavour. This is not a thin book, but it moves along at a good clip and never gets bogged down in the minutia of the business world that would lose the attention of aviation readers. Right until the end of the story the book remains engaging and genuinely hard to put down. It is a good read, would make an excellent gift, and would be a splendid addition to anyone’s aviation bookshelf.
The book won a bronze medal from the American Independent Book Publishers.
Bill, I have just finished the 548 pages of your book. Very interesting indeed. The parts regarding aviation were so interesting, for obvious reasons. The business world items were as well, although far removed from my knowledge and lack of business talent. Thanks for the great read and the memories recalled. I’m proud to have shared a few cockpits with you on the DC-9 and DC- 8.
Captain J. Desmarais An exciting book. It can’t help but be because the real estate business is fascinating. And complex. “Grenier deftly gets that across, tying in the legal and accounting sides inseparable from any big real estate deal. He shows us the interplay of personalities, the jockeying, the bluffing. It must have been fun, indeed.” I was fascinated by the real estate business, knowing nothing about it. Bill explains it well for the layman. He says he kept going at it, in spite of the pressures, the two jobs, the family, because it was so much fun. I can easily believe that. I think, knowing him, the challenge was a big part. After a while airline flying, when you have no difficulty doing it, has little challenge. Still immensely pleasurable, though. I finish with my book reviewer hat on. “The public should enjoy that book; there are two exciting disciplines described there, each with its thrills and dangers. What it took was a guy who could tell us about those worlds in an engaging way. Grenier does that and he does it well.
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!
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 today’s 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, Bill’s 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.