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The NCDA is sad to learn of the passing of Mr. Graeme Roberts at his home in Victoria on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

Graeme was a larger-than-life character, with a lifetime spent in our sector, from apprentice mechanic to working for several OEMs, to running dealerships in Nanaimo and becoming Mayor, to the Chair of the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA).

“Seems only a few of the originals are left. Graeme was a life well lived, and he left great impressions on those he met. He was a fabulous ambassador for our industry. A classy, wonderful man.”
–Moray Keith, Dealer Principal, Dueck Auto Group, former VSA Board member and longtime friend of Graeme.


Graeme’s automotive history began as an apprentice mechanic in the UK, followed by several years at various OEMs including Ford, GM, Renault, and Toyoyta-Isuzu. Graeme then shifted gears and began working in dealerships, eventually becoming owner of Toyota, Honda, BMW, and Mercedes dealerships in Nanaimo.

Among his private passions has been 25 years of volunteer work in amateur sport for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities through the B.C. Games Society. In this cause, he attended close to 60 Games in more than 40 B.C. communities.

As a past board member of the New Car Dealers Association of BC, former Mayor of Nanaimo, and among the city’s prominent business personalities for more than a generation, Graeme served in senior executive and Board of Directors positions for a succession of public and private sector entities, locally, regionally, and nationally.

Short Story of Interest – Mayor of Nanaimo
In the 1980’s, there was debate about the the City of Nanaimo’s new slogan – “Hub City” versus “Harbour City”. As city mayor, Graeme wanted Harbour City – he reasoned that everyone already knew Nanaimo was the transportation hub of the Island; he thought the city needed something unique. The day Nanaimo was declared the Harbour City was one of his proudest moments as mayor. The occasion was the visit of Prince Charles and Princess Diana when the royal couple unveiled the “Harbour City” plaque and cairn. Read more.

Graeme is survived by his artist wife, Kathryn, residing in Brentwood Bay near Victoria. Our condolences to the family during this difficult time.

From the SIGNALS Archives
A presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. Roberts was made in 2017 at the BC Auto Industry Conference (see Page 8 in the button below). Previous recipients of the award have been Jim Pattison, Marnie Carter and, the late Tom Harris.

Statement from Mayor Krog on passing of former Mayor Graeme Roberts
STATEMENT – Distributed June 14, 2021 12:15 PM

On behalf of Nanaimo City Council, and City Staff, I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Graeme Roberts, who served as the Mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-1986.

During Mr. Roberts’ tenure, the City’s waterfront transformed through development. It was also during his term, in 1986, that Prince Charles and Princess Diana made a trip to Nanaimo to help then-mayor Roberts proclaim the new slogan for our City…read more.

In the Times Colonist