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One of Bay Street's legendary traders is retiring, as GMP Capital Inc. announced that Michael Wekerle is leaving the brokerage firm.

Mr. Wekerle's last day was Wednesday, Toronto-based GMP said.

While the announcement of the end of his tenure at GMP was sudden, it's not going to be a surprise to many who followed the firm closely. Mr. Wekerle's role had been diminished of late. He stepped back from his role as head of trading at GMP earlier in the year and, according to some at GMP, he had been largely absent from the firm's day-to-day operations for months.

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GMP is giving Mr. Wekerle a parting gift, saying it will record a cost of $5-million "in connection with Mr. Wekerle's retirement and in recognition of his long-standing contributions to the firm." Mr. Wekerle has a two-year consulting contract with GMP, the firm said. That will likely prevent him from going to work at a competing dealer.

Mr. Wekerle was one of a handful of employees who started at GMP in 1995, when the firm launched as the new independent brokerage on the street. He was key to the firm's strategy and success, as his trading desk was known for big volumes and the best information on markets, both of which drew clients.

Mr. Wekerle is "a trader without peers and an even better person," said Bill Holland, executive chairman of CI Financial Corp.

The departure comes as GMP negotiates a cultural transition from an upstart to a more established financial institution.

"We fully understand and support Mike's decision and want to express our deep appreciation for his leadership and guidance to GMP's trading operations over the past 15 years," GMP chief executive officer Harris Fricker said in a statement.

In addition to his role on the trading desk, where he was known as one of the best at helping clients move large blocks of stock, he also helped GMP build its asset-management side, including starting a hedge fund in the firm.

In May, he officially left the trading desk, giving up his role as head of institutional trading. GMP said at the time that he would focus on "strategic initiatives" and business development, as well as working with big clients. He has also been building up interests outside of GMP, including property ventures in Florida.

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In the statement, Mr. Wekerle said, "It has been my privilege to lead the evolution of GMP into one of the country's leading institutional trading firms and it has been an honour to work with such an exceptional and dynamic group of professionals."

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