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Ted Lennox, a retired engineer, builds model railroads in the basement of his Ottawa home. Mr. Lennox is pictured here with his wife, Nancy.Ashley Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.

Ted Lennox, 72, Ottawa

I retired in 2016 at 64 years old, two years after selling my aviation planning and consulting engineering company. I stayed on for a couple of years afterward to help ensure a smooth transition. I decided to sell the company partly because I was tired of the endless pursuit of new business. Keeping operations professionally interesting, fun and profitable – while keeping the payroll stable and secure – takes a toll on your life and health.

I did expect to work as a consultant after I retired. My first assignment was to go to the European Arctic to help fix a project that had gone off the rails. That was when I realized how relieved I was to have left the stress and responsibilities of the business world behind. Today, I provide only occasional ad-hoc advice to my former employees on a pro bono basis.

My wife of 37 years and I lead hectic lives in retirement. We’ve travelled extensively to places such as the U.K., Europe, Israel, Mexico and the Caribbean. At home in Ottawa, I can often be found in the basement, working on my model railroad. Once a year, I make it available for public viewing as part of a city-wide tour.

I also have a model airplane collection and an extensive military library that keeps me busy and engaged. During the pandemic lockdowns, I researched and wrote a biography of my airport architect father, who served in the Polish Air Force in the Second World War.

We also have a cottage we’ve been renovating and where we like spending time with friends and family. We have one son, whose wife recently had a baby, so we’re new grandparents. Life continues to be exciting.

My wife and I have been saving for retirement for decades. Still, it wasn’t until we switched advisors in 2007 – dumping our mutual fund and some double-leveraged positions in favour of stocks – that our retirement accounts really started to grow. Selling the business has also helped us live comfortably.

Our retirement strategy is to maintain our financial investments at a fixed level in the longer term, using any returns above this level for discretionary spending. We leave the portfolio management to the experts. I’m an engineering businessman, not a financial, legal or tax specialist. I believe in hiring people smarter than me and taking their advice.

That said, I don’t mind offering some advice for others on how to have a happy and successful retirement. Don’t wait for society to come to you; get out there and do things and meet people. Most of our current social life was developed since we retired. And lastly, try to look at the bright side of life. It’s contagious.

As told to Brenda Bouw.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Are you a Canadian retiree interested in discussing what life is like now that you’ve stopped working? The Globe is looking for people to participate in its Tales from the Golden Age feature, which examines the personal and financial realities of retirement. If you’re interested in being interviewed for this feature and agree to use your full name and have a photo taken, please e-mail us at: Please include a few details about how you saved and invested for retirement and what your life is like now.

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