$37M lotto winner dies heartbroken recluse

Apr 11, 2011, 9:37 am (40 comments)

After the Big Win

Ontario's biggest-ever lottery winner died a heartbroken and miserly recluse, estranged from family and too sick — or too tightfisted — to spend his millions.

Friends of 59-year-old Graham Gelineau, who won $37 million in 2007 from a Canada Lotto 6/49 ticket, told the Sun the "eccentric" and mysterious Graham disappeared after collecting his jackpot, not returning to the cheap room he rented in a boarding house on St. Clair Ave. W.

Friends aren't sure of the exact date of his death but have heard it was a week ago.

"He made his escape plan, and nobody ever saw him again," Tom Bailey, 57, says.

"He knew that (people) would be crawling all over that rooming house looking for him after he won."

Even in death, Gelineau remains an elusive mystery.

There will be no viewing for friends and family, and no funeral, says Ken Burnley of Trull Funeral Home and Cremation Centre on Yonge St., just south of Glencairn Ave., which is handling Gelineau's arrangements.

There won't even be a death notice, he says.

Burnley won't say who is handling Gelineau's estate, or the exact date he died, citing privacy legislation.

And he says he knows nothing of Gelineau's windfall.

When Gelineau won his millions he said little would change in his life although looking for an apartment — where he could live alone — was a priority.

He planned to help out family and friends, and give some cash to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was being treated for an undisclosed illness.

"My life's going to stay pretty much the same," Gelineau said.

"That's what I think, but who knows what the future brings?"

Before winning the jackpot, Gelineau held down a low-paying job as a clerk at an off-track betting parlour in the Bathrust and Bloor Sts. area.

He revealed little of himself or his past to anyone, and according to one source, kept the money he earned as a clerk tucked away in books in his rented room.

He was also a chess fanatic, and an avid reader of science fiction.

But he also struggled with his weight — at one point hovering around the 300 pound mark — and was ill much of the time as a result, Bailey says.

After scoring his windfall, Gelineau quit his clerk's job, and apparently rented a small apartment at the foot of Spadina.

No one the Sun interviewed knew what Gelineau did with his millions, but there were rumours he donated some of it to hospitals.

Gelineau was a guarded, private man who never talked of his parents or any siblings, and never dated, Bailey says.

But at one point he did have a family of sorts — a woman he lived with and loved.

"At one time, he had a girlfriend," Bailey says, "but he came home one day and she had disappeared — walked out — and he never got over it. He clearly stated he would never be interested in a relationship again after she disappeared."

Gelineau, who Bailey says always earned a "modest" income, was tight with money but still likable.

"if he sat down, people would want to buy him drinks... you were just glad to have him around." A former landlord remembers Gelineau as an intensely private man who may have had "terminal cancer" the year before winning the big prize.

Gelineau rarely left his room during that time, other than for work.

"He was seriously ill, I think," says Tom, owner of a two-storey house on Follis Ave in the Bloor and Christie Sts. area where Gelineau rented a room from 1997 to early 2007.

"He kept to himself. He didn't really want anyone to really know him."

The only sign of possible family, says Tom, who declined to give his last name, were two women who showed up on Christmas Day a few years before Gelineau won the jackpot.

Gelineau lost his temper and screamed at them to "just leave".

Even though he lived close to the poverty line, Gelineau squirrelled away his money, Tom says. He once found a wad of thousands of dollars that Gelineau had accidentally thrown in the trash. He returned the money to a grateful Gelineau.

A woman, who worked on-and-off with Gelineau for 15 years at Albert's Parlour, an off-track betting lounge on the second floor of the Brunswick House bar, calls him a "generous spirit" who loved to read and play chess, but never spent money or talked about his personal life.

"He was an eccentric guy," says the woman who didn't want to be identified. "He was just Graham."

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Thanks to Sherry for the tip.

Toronto Sun


dpoly1's avatardpoly1

I would choose to enjoy the money if I would win a large amount.

Living a more comfortable life and helping other would be most enjoyable !

Big Grin


What a bummer, such a sad story.

sully16's avatarsully16

Quote: Originally posted by ameriken on Apr 11, 2011

What a bummer, such a sad story.

Very sad indeed.

Raven62's avatarRaven62

Can Money Buy Happiness?

It can if the Money Winner doesn't Limit their own Potential to be Happy with the Choices They Make!

R. I. P. Graham!

foragoodcause's avatarforagoodcause

Unfortunately when you become millionaire overnight you have to hide from people specially your family.

hearsetrax's avatarhearsetrax

Quote: Originally posted by Raven62 on Apr 11, 2011

Can Money Buy Happiness?

It can if the Money Winner doesn't Limit their own Potential to be Happy with the Choices They Make!

R. I. P. Graham!

Skeptical dunno about that ..... but I reckon the answer died with him

personally am curious as to his last days,beliefs/figgurings/lessons learned and how many true friends he had if any

 bad enough he died alone  Twitch

Jon D's avatarJon D

Money can buy a lot of things and solve many of life's problems.

But it just goes to show: if you don't have your health, not a lot of good those millions will do.

Stay healthy.

nickey t's avatarnickey t

so so sad .. but the idea i'm getting is that 1) he was already sickly and 2) he previously had issues with family .. so, who knows where the money is or who he left in charge but i respect recluses and their privacy and assume this was all part of his plan .. he certainly could have enjoyed the millions if he wanted to and who is to say he didn't .. well, his estate knows everything Disapprove

konane's avatarkonane

Seems he lived life and faced death under his own terms.  RIP.  Blue Angel


what a face indeed, they will do anything for that face and to that face....Is called: CLASS...And in canada and with that French name or so it looks...guys dont mind me...is also written on his face but i think this time it was environment...


talking about a future: BILLIONAIRE...

He died a hermit, i could had told you that: 50 years ago...he must had had a good heart...


Here is a quote from the movie: Gladiator...

Death smiles at us ALL [whao!], all a man can do is, smile back...

you never know live life to the fullest...


Quote: Originally posted by pumpi76 on Apr 11, 2011

Here is a quote from the movie: Gladiator...

Death smiles at us ALL [whao!], all a man can do is, smile back...

you never know live life to the fullest...

you know one of the many reasons why i say that??? Just to THINK how many THOUSANDS of times this planet in the past would had been eliminated, just to think that we came from a bacteria and from a monkey just to think that we are a ball hovering in space in MID AIR with no chords, just to look at the Sun in close shots, just to look at what occurs in other parts of the universe or other planets, just to think that there is life here but NO WHERE ELSE, just to see how man happily celebrate every day as if he was in heaven, ect, ect, ect, ect AND ECT is like standing at the very edge of a never ending PRECIPICE.....Makes me conclude that: DEATH SMILES AT US ALL...

So i dont know whats the: CELEBRATION....


my favorite poem in the ENTIRE WORLD is Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryan....

you dont have no possession in this world, all you got is: EACH OTHER...


they should drop the name: HUmankind and replaced it by: BY-A-WHISKER...

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