Building the future
Paul Bailey (’75)
Paul Bailey (’75) started out at Acadia studying geology, but after a year of tramping through the bush, swatting mosquitoes, he decided that was not for him. He switched to the business program and never looked back.
At graduation, he was recruited into a bank’s training program in Stratford, Ontario, but soon realized that banking was also not for him.
“I got a job with a land developer in Toronto as a gofer,” he says. “I didn’t know a thing about real estate or land development or housing. I’d get the boss’s car washed, pick up his shirts from the cleaners, and then go to a meeting because he didn’t want to. I learned by osmosis for three and a half years.” Then he joined Nu-West, a national land developer, and kept on learning. In 1984, he found a piece of land and borrowed every cent to buy it. That’s when he created Bazil Development, Inc., the business he still owns and operates. “That first deal worked well, and now I’m on about my fifty-sixth project,” he says. After identifying properties that can be developed for residential purposes in the Toronto area, Bailey partners with a home builder. Each project can take up to 12 years to complete, and one of his current projects is a development of about 2,500 houses.
“I had a really fine experience at Acadia. When it ended, I was sorry it was over. I’ve reflected often on how special that was for me. I still have a number of very good friends I talk to on a regular basis from those years. That was the best time of my life – and I have a pretty good life.”
Although Bailey loves his work, he pursues a variety of interests. He is an avid back-country skier and skis in the BC interior and Europe every year. He has taught himself to play guitar, piano, upright bass, and drums and continues to play those instruments today. He collects art – “I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler,” he admits with a laugh – and has been interested in wine and collecting it since the 1970s. He enjoys learning about wine and, in particular, sharing it with other people.
As a volunteer, Bailey serves on a number of boards and committees including the Southlake Hospital in Newmarket, Ontario, and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. He also serves on the advisory committee for MPAC, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation for Ontario, which sets the tax rates for the six million properties that must be appraised and taxed every year.
“I think the university experience I had was very different from those of my high-school friends who went to larger universities,” he says. “So when I was approached to be part of the Campaign Cabinet, it was something I really wanted to do, to try to perpetuate and enhance what Acadia offers. Acadia is a very different place and a very special place.”