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Hal Jackman, one of the most colourful figures in Canadian business, resigned as chairman and president of E-L Financial Corp. Ltd. yesterday and will be succeeded by his son, Duncan.

"It has to come sooner or later," Mr. Jackman said yesterday. "I'm 70 years old and that's beyond the normal time in this kind of thing. My son, he can handle the annual meeting and all the other things and I can retreat into my natural state of humility."

Mr. Jackman said he has given up most of his other directorships, including Algoma Central Corp., and plans to enjoy retirement. "I'm just going to enjoy things and watch the flowers grow."

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Toronto-based E-L Financial is a holding company whose major subsidiaries include Dominion of Canada General Insurance Co. and Empire Life Insurance Co. E-L has about $6.4-billion in assets and net premium income of more than $1.1-billion.

Duncan Jackman, 35, is chairman of United Corporation Ltd., Economic Investment Trust Ltd. and Fulcrum Investment Co. Ltd.

Mr. Jackman said the transition has been under way for several months. He added that he may remain a director of E-L.

His resignation marks the end of a long career mixed with business and politics. He ran and lost in three federal elections and served as Ontario's lieutenant-governor from 1991 to 1996. He is currently chancellor of the University of Toronto.

In 1997, he sold his controlling stake in National Trustco Inc. in a $1.25-billion transaction with Bank of Nova Scotia. National Trustco was then Canada's largest family-owned trust company.

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