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Phil Henson spoke to the Globe and Mail about his retirement and how filling his days with sports is so important to him.Ashley Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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

Phil Henson, 67, of Ottawa

I retired at the end of 2014 at age 60. If you count my job as a paperboy since age 10, and all of the other student jobs along the way, that’s 50 years of work. My career included about 35 years at Nortel and then Ciena, which bought the Nortel division I worked at in 2010.

My plan was to retire at age 55 and do some consulting for a few years, but the financial impact of Nortel’s bankruptcy declared in 2009 delayed that dream. My defined-benefit pension plan stopped contributions and was in jeopardy of paying out, but it was finally resolved in October, 2016.

At age 59, my wealth-management adviser showed me that I could retire at any time based on the annuity that I would receive from Nortel, along with my own investments.

It was a big decision to leave work because I really liked my job as a supplier relationship manager, including my colleagues and the suppliers. But I was also getting calls from my retired buddies inviting me to go golfing and I couldn’t because my work calendar was full.

I never expected to be bored in retirement. To enjoy it, you not only need to be financially prepared but also ready to give up the satisfaction you receive from work and your colleagues. You also have to have something to get out of bed for each day.

I really enjoy playing sports. I did consider doing some contract work after I retired, but I have been too busy with all my different sports. In the summer I play golf, softball, tennis and pickleball and go kayaking and fishing. In the winter I play hockey, go snowshoeing, downhill skiing and play both indoor pickleball and golf.

My wife, Valerie, and I also love to travel, which we couldn’t do much of during the pandemic. We usually go to Florida for part of the winter. We used the money we saved not travelling during the past couple of years to do many renovations on the house. With the lockdown, we couldn’t have a contractor into the house to do the flooring, so ended up replacing it ourselves. We puttered away and learned as we went along and ended up doing an excellent job.

The only fear I really had when I retired was financial. My Nortel annuity isn’t indexed to inflation and my investments go up and down with the markets. However, my competent financial adviser has put me at ease, to some extent.

Once the pandemic is under control and things open up again, I’m looking forward to playing sports and travelling to different places. We’d love to travel to Europe, the United States and throughout Canada, and maybe go on one of those European river cruises. Of course, we have a finite budget, but maybe we’ll do a couple of trips a year.

My advice to others who are pondering retirement is that you’ve got to have something to do, something that will motivate you and stimulate you. Enjoy being around family and friends – and make new friends. You work all of your life to earn money for retirement, so enjoy it.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This article has been edited and condensed

Calling all retirees

Are you a retiree interested in discussing what life is like now that you’ve stopped working? What are the highs and lows of leaving the so-called rat race? How has retirement evolved for you? As part of its expanded coverage, Globe Investor is launching a new feature called Tales from the Golden Age, which looks at the realities of retirement living. We’ll also ask you to offer some advice for others in retirement, or those considering it. If you’re interested in being interviewed for this feature, please e-mail us at: with “Golden Age” in the subject line

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