Our roots go back to Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, where our founder, Donald H. Wheaton Sr. worked at the local general store. Along with three partners, he became part owner of a small General Motors dealership in town. The partners soon realized the car business wasn’t for them, and Don Sr. became the sole owner. In 1961 a large dealership in Edmonton became available and General Motors offered him the opportunity to move. Along with his wife and family Don Sr. moved to Edmonton and took over what was to become Don Wheaton Chevrolet Oldsmobile. Our parent company remains headquartered in that same building today.
In the mid-80s our founder and his family saw an opportunity to offer creditor life and disability insurance to car buyers and First Canadian Insurance Corporation was created. Before long this line of business was offered to other dealerships in Edmonton and eventually, across Canada. First Canadian is now the country’s largest credit life and disability insurance provider in the automotive space. A property and casualty insurance company, Millennium Insurance Corporation, soon followed offering protection to home owners and drivers as well as warranty products for car buyers.
Looking for the next logical step in dealership based financial services, in 2005, General Bank of Canada was started. With three employees, our first loan was made in July 2005. Now, almost ten years later, the bank has 38 employees, most based in our head office in Edmonton, with a sales force spread across the country from British Columbia to Ontario. While still small relative to the big banks, General Bank has established itself as a credible presence in dealerships that value our brand of service and appreciate the personal touch that we provide. In ten years, we have become the nation’s seventh largest indirect automotive lender.
In 2015 General Bank will be expanding into commercial lending, focussing on commercial real estate, equipment and aircraft financing.
The success of the General Bank is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude of our founder and his family. We are proud to carry on the tradition of treating people well, borne out of our modest beginnings in rural Saskatchewan.