I was ushered into a small, but very nice, office where a friendly, well-dressed, young man asked me take a seat across the desk from him, saying something along the lines of, “So, you want to become a chartered accountant.”
“Yes,” I replied without elaboration.
Although I was twenty-two years old at the time I looked about sixteen, which was probably why he asked me if I intended to go to university or enter right into the CA training. I told him I wanted to get started right away.
He then explained that I had to get a job with a CA firm and enroll in a five-year course via correspondence through Queen’s University. He said I should apply for a job right away because I had to be employed with a CA firm and enrolled with Queen’s by early September. Then he said, “You’ll have to attach a copy of your Grade Thirteen certificate to your application.” I told him I hadn’t completed high school. The conversation then went somewhat as follows.
“Well, you have to have completed Grade Thirteen to qualify for the course. How far have you gone?”
“Then you couldn’t possibly do the work.”
“I understand there are rules for admitting people under a mature student rule.”
“Yes, but you couldn’t possibly qualify as a mature student at this time. You simply don’t have enough education to be able to handle such an advanced course.”
“Why?” I asked, “I’ve been working for eight years and I’m in my third year of the RIA course.”
He finally got around to asking me how old I was and a bit about my work but went on to say, “Well, I still think being three years shy of the minimum high school requirement is too great a gap and I’m confident that with only Grade Ten you couldn’t possibly do the course work, the CA course is a lot harder than the RIA course.”
I had noticed earlier that there was a letter on his desk with the letterhead The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Prince Edward Island, so I asked him what the Ontario Institute had to do with the PEI Institute and he told me that because the PEI Institute was so small the Ontario Institute administered the CA course for them. That prompted me to ask if students in PEI took the same course as students in Ontario, He said they did. Then I asked him if a student got his CA in PEI would he automatically be a CA in Ontario. He told me he would be a CA anywhere in Canada by simply applying for admission to the particular provincial Institute. I immediately knew what I was going to do. I thanked him for his time and headed back to TCPL where I told Gerry Hutchko and Hugh Hamilton of my plans, with which they heartily agreed.
The first step was to immediately take my two-week vacation and head for PEI, just as I had done every other year except 1958, the year I was in Saskatchewan, when I didn’t make it home to PEI until the middle of December.
Step number two was to see if the PEI Institute would let me in the course. I went to Charlottetown and got out the yellow pages. There were three or four company names and a couple of individuals listed under “Accountants, Chartered.” Only one of the names was in bold print (H. R. Doane & Co.), so thinking that it was probably the biggest I decided to start there. Also figuring that it would be too easy for them to brush me off on the telephone I decided to just walk in, which was what I did.
H. R. Doane & Co was located on the second floor of a building on Richmond St. just a bit east of Queen. The main floor was the Charlottetown bus stop. I climbed the stairs and entered. There was a counter and about a dozen desks in a fairly large open space. I noticed four private offices along the side and one large office which took up about half of the far end of the room overlooking Richmond St.
A tall, slim, friendly-looking young woman (Blanche Walsh, who would become a great friend) got up from her typewriter, came to the counter and asked how she could help me. I said I wanted to see the boss. She was completely unabashed by this naive request, simply saying, “That would be Mr. Manning. What’s your name and what do you want to see him about?” I told her my name and that I wanted to become a CA. She thanked me and walked to the large office at the end. She came back almost immediately, said that Mr. Manning would see me, and told me to go on in.
I walked into the biggest office I’d ever seen up to that time, bigger even than the senior executives at TransCanadaPipeLines, and was greeted by an impeccably-dressed, tall, grey-haired, kindly-looking, soft-spoken gentleman who stood up and offered me his hand saying, “Hello, Lyman. I’m Randy Manning; nice to meet you. Blanche said you want to become a CA.”
“Yes,” I said, “but there’s a problem.”
“I didn’t finish high school. I’ve been working in Toronto and the Ontario Institute wouldn’t accept me as a mature student. I’m hoping the PEI Institute will.”
“Well, we just might. Tell me about yourself.”
When I finished bringing him up to date he had no hesitation in saying that he saw no problem and that he’d be happy to hire me as a CA student. He said that because of my experience and RIA training he’d pay me $250 a month, which was almost double what a new CA student would normally receive. As I had a car and could live with my sister and her family in Morell (about twenty-five miles from Charlottetown) I knew that I could easily live on that salary, so I said that would be fine.
He asked me when I could start. I explained that I’d have to go back to Toronto, give TCPL reasonable notice and find someone to take my place in the apartment (including buying my share of the furniture), so I suggested right after Labour Day. Mr. Manning said that was fine. He went on to say that he would then be in Australia so when I came in to work I should ask for his partner, Gordon Williams, whom I couldn’t meet now because he was on vacation. He said Gordon would take care of all the paperwork and get me settled in.
I asked Mr. Manning if there would be any problem with getting PEI Institute approval. He simply said there wouldn’t be. I didn’t know it then, but Mr. Manning was by far the most respected CA in PEI and if he was happy to have me then so would the PEI Institute.
Mr. Manning asked me if I had any questions and when I said I didn’t he shook my hand saying something like, “Welcome aboard, be here at 9:00 on September 5th and Gordon will look after you. I’ll see you when I get back from Australia.”
I headed back to Toronto, resigned from TCPL, found a colleague in the accounting department (Bill Rozak) to take over my place in the apartment at 412 Eglinton Ave East, and by Thursday, August 31st, was on my way to PEI with everything I owned in the world packed in the trunk and back seat of my 1957 Pontiac.
I felt I was on the threshold of something great. I was.