Thursday, March 27, 2014

# 45 ~ Old Banks of Toronto, Then and Now, Part Two

In my last article, I introduced the history of just a few of Toronto's historic bank buildings. Many are gone, while several that still stand have been turned over to other purposes, and are no longer temples (or at least, smaller chapels) dedicated to the exchange and storage of funds. However, we are fortunate than an elegantly built bank will often always still look like a bank, even decades after it has stopped serving as one.
In this second article on the history of banks in the city, I will carry on with the same format that I have used for the first article. Of course, whole volumes could be assembled on old banks in the city. What I've offered up here, even in two articles, is not even the “tip of the iceberg”, and I envision there being more entries to come, either more immediately or at some point in the future.
The Bank of Toronto was established in 1857.  Both William Gooderham and his son, George, were active in the early years of the Bank of Toronto. William Gooderham was the family patriarch who led an entourage of 54 family members to the Town of York in the summer of 1832. William Gooderham had been encouraged to emigrate by James Worts, who was married to William's sister. Together, the various members of the Worts and Gooderham clans operated a windmill on the east side of town at the Don River. Within a few years this windmill evolved into the family run distillery which would become the cornerstone of the families' fortunes and the Distillery District that we know today.
THEN : William Gooderham, Sr., 1790 - 1881
THEN : The Worts and Gooderham windmill formed the basis of today's Distillery District.

There was no denying the business acumen of either William or his son George. In 1856, George became a full partner in the family distillery business, along with his father and his cousin James Worts. Financial newspapers of the era, like the Monetary Times, credited George Gooderham with helping to grow the family business. He had an excellent technical knowledge of the business and was also a perfectionist.
THEN : George Gooderham, 1830 - 1905.
The two Gooderhams, father and son, saw the writing on the wall and had the foresight to invest in some of the emerging enterprises of the mid-nineteenth century. The first was the construction of railways, which had been launched in Ontario when the first steam train to operate in the province ran between Toronto and Aurora in 1853.  By 1870, George Gooderham was a director of the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway, which, along with the Toronto and Nipissing Railway, was controlled by Gooderham and Worts and distributed all the freight for the family firm.
THEN : The Toronto, the first locomotive to operate in Ontario, was steam powered and travelled from Toronto to Aurora in the Spring of 1853.
Apart from the production of alcohol and the running of railways, banking was the other major endeavour for the Gooderham family. George Gooderham served as a director and later a vice president of the Bank of Toronto for several years, and as its president from 1882 until his death in 1905. Gooderham ran the Bank of Toronto in a style similar to his other business entrances. Growth came slowly, perhaps, but surely. New branches of the bank opened gradually, and the mainstream of the bank's customers tended to be in industries like distilling, brewing, and milling, as well as farmers and merchants.

The first branch of the Bank of Toronto to be opened outside of Ontario was one that began operation in Montreal in 1860. As northern Ontario and the Prairie provinces became more developed in the 1880s and 1890s, the Bank of Toronto expanded a little more quickly. Like other banks, it was offering loans to manufacturers and those who were harvesting natural resources. The Bank of Toronto reached the west coast in 1899 when it opened a branch in the mining town of Rossland, British Columbia.
THEN : A "branch" of the Bank of Toronto operates out of a tent near the Dome Mine in Timmins, in this photograph from 1913.
During the First World War, Canadian banks were solicited to help finance the expense of war, and the Bank of Toronto became involved with the marketing of War Bonds to the Canadian public. A significant portion of the staff of the Bank of Toronto gave military service during the war. The 1920s were generally prosperous for the Bank of Toronto, and although the bank's earnings declined during the Great Depression through the 1930s, it didn't suffer any great losses. Like every other chartered bank, the Bank of Toronto resisted the introduction of a central Bank of Canada, but when this was established in the 1930s, the Bank of Toronto gave up their rights to print their own currency.
THEN : Canadian troops celebrate their victory at Vimy in 1917.  Images like this were incorporated into advertisements for War Bonds, like the one below.  Canadian banks were involved in marketing War Bonds, as part of their campaign to help the Canadian Government finance the war.

During the Second World War, the Bank of Toronto, along with its competitors, was once again involved in marketing war bonds, as well as rationing and the control of the foreign exchange. The Bank of Toronto had little more than one thousand employees during the war years, and nearly half that number went into the armed forces.
In the six years that the war went on, the Bank of Toronto more than doubled its assets. However, the bank also faced much larger rivals, and began to contemplate a partnership with another bank of equal size in order to take advantage of new economic opportunities. So, on February 1, 1955, the Bank of Toronto merged with the Dominion Bank, giving birth to the Toronto-Dominion Bank.  In 2000, the Canada Trust Company was acquired by the Toronto-Dominion Bank, giving us the present day company of TD Canada Trust.
The very first branch of the Bank of Toronto was constructed in 1856, with staff preparing for the official public opening of the institution the following year. This branch was located at 78 Church Street, just south of Adelaide Street, and had a staff of three people. Rather remarkably, this building is still standing, and his now home to the Commissionaires. 
THEN : The very first branch of the Bank of Toronto was operated out of 78 Church Street from 1856 until 1862.  The building is shown here in 1956.

NOW : 78 Church Street, now home to the Commissionaires, in 2014.
Just a few years later, the Bank of Toronto moved to new headquarters on the northwest corner of Wellington and Church streets.  This building opened in 1862 and has become a rather notorious example of lost buildings in Toronto.  This beautiful Bank of Toronto building on the north side of Wellington Street would stand for just under a century, before being demolished in 1961, and becoming one of the first casualties of the so-called “urban renewal” of the 1960s.

THEN : The Bank of Toronto at the northwest corner of Wellington and Church streets is shown here in 1890.

NOW : What we have now, instead of the old Bank of Toronto building, is a stunning example of postmodern Toronto architecture ...

Gooderham's office – now more commonly known as the Flatiron Building – still stands across the street, on the south side of Wellington Street. So, his office stood across the street from the bank with which he was so involved, and rumours abound of an underground tunnel that Gooderham could use to sneak across the street and get into the bank's vaults. According to some sources, anyway, the tunnel is still there, but access from the tavern that is now in the basement of Gooderham's office has been completely sealed off.

THEN : The Bank of Toronto building at the northwest corner of Wellington and Church streets is shown here in 1870.

NOW : An accessible tunnel once ran from the Gooderham Building, on the left, under Wellington Street, to where the Bank of Toronto once stood on the right.  Apparently, the entrance to the tunnels from the basement of the Gooderham building are all bricked up.  Goodness only knows what one would find in the basement of "The Works".

As early as 1901, the Bank of Toronto began contemplating the construction of a new headquarters. The bank purchased a large plot of land at the southwest corner of King and Bay streets in 1902. With a frontage of 120 feet on King Street, and 134 feet on Bay Street, it was the largest parcel of land that had been bought up for redevelopment up until that point in the city's history. The lease on some of the buildings that stood at that corner did not expire until 1911, so actual construction of the new Bank of Toronto building did not begin until January of 1912.
An American architectural firm, Carrere & Hastings, was chosen to design the new building. It was a time when there was a great deal of nationalism in architectural design in Canadian citizens, and the choice of an American firm probably caused a stir. But Carrere & Hastings was at the top of the list of respected American architectural companies, and their work on the building would have brought the Bank of Toronto a lot of prestige, as well as the security of knowing that their new headquarters would be well designed and well built. The design of the new Bank of Toronto building was inspired by the Bourse de Paris – the Paris Stock Exchange building – that had been constructed over almost twenty years from 1808 to 1826. The Bank of Toronto building took considerably less time, and was completed in 1913.
THEN : The elegance and grandeur of the Bourse de Paris would serve as inspiration for the Bank of Toronto's new headquarters at King and Bay streets.

THEN : The new Bank of Toronto headquarters were completed in 1913.
The Corinthian columns of the building evoked a sense of the Classical world that could be found in a number of bank buildings from the time. A large plinth, taller than the height of pedestrians passing by, held the columns above the level of the traffic, and evoked a sense that the bank was built on a strong foundation. The building looked like an imposing, geometric monument that exuded self confidence. The elegance of the exterior of the building hid the fact that there were five levels of offices on the inside, and two full basements with space enough for vaults and storage. Inside, at the centre of the building, was a vaulted two storey banking hall. Marble, bronze and glass certainly made it one of the most stunning commercial interiors at the time.

When the Bank of Toronto amalgamated with the Dominion Bank in 1955, a decision was made to construct a new building to house the combined offices of both of the former banks. The 1913 Bank of Toronto building, and the current Toronto-Dominion Centre was built in its place. Two towers were built in the second half of the 1960s, with another four being built between 1974 and 1991. The bronze tinted glass and black steel of the buildings are perhaps the best example that Toronto has of the “International Style” of corporate tower that was popular in North America fifty years ago. On one hand, it is easy to imagine a film about the world of banking, set in New York City in the 1960s, being set in and around the complex. On the other hand, it's hard not to miss the classical style of the old 1913 Bank of Toronto building.
THEN : Topping off the 56-storey tower of the Toronto Dominion Centre, just prior to its completion in 1966.

THEN : The original two towers of the Toronto Dominion Centre in 1966.  The Royal York Hotel can still be seen to dominate Front Street in the background.  The Toronto Stock Exchange building can be seen in the lower left hand corner of the photograph.  Later additions to the Toronto Dominion Centre would eventually wrap themselves around the Toronto Stock Exchange building, and the old Art Deco fa├žade now looks out from a wall of black glass.

THEN : The original two Toronto Dominion Towers, circa 1967, just after they were completed. With "new" city hall in the background, and the Royal York and the Bank of Commerce building visible, I really think that this photograph points to a time when Toronto was delineated between the first and second halves of the twentieth century. The hotel and Bank of Commerce are still obvious giants, but the nuances of Revell's city hall and the soaring height of the new TD towers are like the opening chords of the modern glass and steel symphony.
The first run of banknotes from the Bank of Toronto were printed between 1856 and 1865. Few survive, so they are quite valuable to collectors. However, a large number of the banknotes from this period issued by the Bank of Toronto were counterfeited. Banknotes from these years were issued in denominations of $1, $2, $4, $5 and $10. Many of the banknotes were overprinted with the location of branches, including locations in Barrie, Cobourg, Collingwood, Montreal, Peterborough, Port Hope, and St. Catharines. Like any other chartered bank, the signatures of various bank officials appear on these banknotes – two names of note were William Gooderham and James Worts.

THEN : $1 and $4 banknotes from the Bank of Toronto, dating from the 1856 to 1865 period.

In 1876, the Bank of Toronto did a run of only 25,000 banknotes, all with a face value of $4. No other denominations were produced. They were either overprinted to show branch locations in Collingwood or St. Catharines, or had no overprint at all. J.G. Worts is pictured on the left and William Gooderham is on the right. Because of the limited number that were produced, these banknotes are considered to be rare and quite valuable.

THEN : $4 banknote from the Bank of Toronto, dated 1876.  J.G. Worts is portrayed on the left, and William Gooderham is on the right.
For a little more than forty years between 1887 and 1929, the Bank of Toronto did little to change the appearance of their banknotes. Perhaps they felt that loyal customers would be more secure having a recognizable mode of currency from year to year. However, printing also cost less if the design remained stagnant. The opening decades of the twentieth century were years in which other banks modernized the appearance of their currency, but banknotes issued by the Bank of Toronto retained a more “retro” look. Overprints from various branches show a wide range of locations all across Canada, signifying that the Bank of Toronto was growing across the country.

THEN : Bank of Toronto banknotes from the period between 1887 and 1929.  The $5 note portrays the Canadian Coat of Arms at the time, while the $10 note portrays what was then the Coat of Arms for Toronto.  The $20 note contains a reference to the railroads, a cornerstone of the Gooderham family fortune, while the $50 banknote shows Toronto's 1899 City Hall.
These Bank of Toronto banknotes from either 1935 or 1937 show little variation at all from what had been produced between 1887 and 1929.

THEN : Bank of Toronto banknotes from 1935 and 1937, looking like something out of the nineteenth century.
The Dominion Bank began in 1871, and had a history that was in some ways similar to the Bank of Toronto. It was founded on cautious and conservative principles, but spread its branches of networks fairly quickly. In 1872 it became the first bank in Canada to have two branches in the same city – right here, in Toronto.
James Austin was to the Dominion Bank what William and George Gooderham had been to the Bank of Toronto. Born in Northern Ireland in 1813, he was sixteen years old when his family came to Canada. He became a printer's apprentice and spent a decade in that trade, both in Canada and the United States. However, the cornerstone of his fortunes would lay in other endeavours. He went into partnership with Patrick Foy and together they established the Austin & Foy wholesale company, which operated out of the Daniel Brooke building, which had been built at the northeast corner of King and Jarvis streets in 1833 and which still stands today. The venture was a profitable one, but Austin was drawn away by interests in other ventures. The partnership was dissolved, and Austin was left with a decent sum of money to invest elsewhere.


THEN : The Daniel Brooke building has stood at the northeast corner of King and Jarvis streets since 1833.  The Austin & Foy Wholesale Company has been just one of the enterprises to inhabit this building, which is one of the few intrepid survivors from Georgian Toronto.

With his establishment of the Dominion Bank in 1871, he became a central figure in Canadian finance. He was involved in several different insurance and mortgage companies. He had also been one of the founding directors of Consumers' Gas, and by 1881 he had staked out further control of that company and became its president.
In 1866, Austin had a new family home built on top of Spadina Road, overlooking the escarpment. The Eaton family were nearby neighbours, and of course, Sir Henry Pellatt's notorious residence, Casa Loma, would eventually be built across the street. The estate had been previously owned by the Baldwin family, and noted Canadian political reformer Robert Baldwin had died in the home that stood on the property. Austin had this house replaced, but kept the estate name as Spadina. Austin ended up selling off some portions of the eighty acres that he had purchased, and the 1866 home was renovated and added to, but it still survives today.

NOW : James Austin's estate of Spadina, as it looks today.  Built in 1866 on the foundations of the Baldwin family estate, it now functions as a jewel in the crown of Toronto's museums.
The last member of the family to live in the house was Anna Kathleen Thompson, a granddaughter of James Austin. In 1982, she negotiated to turn the house over to the City of Toronto, and two years later, the house opened as a municipal museum, and is still in operation as such today. Renovated in 2010, the museum offers a number of unique historical experiences, including an exhibit on the wardrobe and costuming from the popular television series Downton Abbey.

Find media coverage for the "Dressing for Downton" exhibit at Spadina here ...
... or visit here for official information!

NOW : The Austin family vault at St. James' Cemetery.
Getting back to the Dominion Bank, it spread through northern Ontario and western Canada, just like the Bank of Toronto, and many other Canadian banks. The bank's target clientele were employees of utility, resource and manufacturing companies. The bank's history also mirrored that of the Bank of Toronto when it got involved in War Bonds in the First World War, and then rationing and foreign exchange in the Second World War.

THEN : An ad campaign for Victory Bonds from 1918.  All major Canadian banks were expected to help finance the war effort by promoting investment in the Canadian government.


The Dominion Bank didn't suffer too greatly during the Great Depression, and the late 1930s and 1940s were a very prosperous time for the bank as an institution. However, in order to compete with other large banks, the Dominion Bank merged with the Bank of Toronto in 1955. The two conservative institutions with a very similar history made for a successful partnership that still exists today.
The very first branch, which also housed the corporate headquarters of the Dominion Bank, stood at 40 King Street East, opening there when the bank was established in 1871. The bank was actually renting these quarters from a retailer, known as the Harris Store, and was paying a rental fee of $92.50 per month. Within a few years, the bank outgrew this location, and in 1879, a new building was constructed at the southwest corner of King and Yonge streets, at 1 King Street West. The location had originally been home to a retail outlet, the Michie & Company Grocers and Wine Merchants, but this would be demolished in order to build the headquarters for the Dominion Bank. The cost of construction was $40,000.


THEN : A photograph of the Dominion Bank building at 1 King Street West circa 1879, the year it was opened.
Standing at a height of five stories, the new building that was constructed for the Dominion Bank in 1879 was an early entry in the race for architects to build taller and taller. The Beard Building stood at a height of seven storeys at the southeast corner of King and Jarvis streets from 1894 until 1935, the twelve storey Temple Building towered over Richmond and Bay streets from 1896 until 1970, and the Trader's Bank Building, constructed in 1905 to an amazing height of fifteen storeys, still stands at the northeast corner of Yonge and Colborne streets. But the five storey Dominion Bank headquarters at King and Yonge streets was certainly seen as a “skyscraper” when it went up in 1879.
THEN : The Beard Building, on the southeast corner, King and Jarvis streets, 1894 to 1935, stood seven storeys.

THEN : The Temple Building, on the northwest corner of Richmond and Bay streets, 1896 to 1970, stood twelve storeys.

NOW : The Trader's Bank Building, at the northeast corner of Colborne and Yonge streets, built in 1905 and still standing, soars to fifteen stories.  All of these buildings, in turn, amazed Torontonians with their ever growing heights.  They all came after the five storey Dominion Bank building, constructed in 1879.

THEN : The Dominion Bank building in 1903, looking diagonally across the street, from the northeast corner of King and Yonge streets, towards the bank at the southwest corner.
THEN : Looking east across King Street towards the Dominion Bank, on the corner of Yonge Street.  When the bank replaced Michie & Company at the corner, that enterprise seems to have found a new home, two doors west (so, towards the camera) from the bank.

That record would seen be toppled, of course, and the ever growing success of the Dominion Bank led to the construction of an even taller building. Work on the building began in March of 1913, and the result was a twelve storey Beaux-Arts skyscraper. When plans were unveiled for the new building, detractors claimed that such a tall building would ruin the city's skyline. However, the work of the architectural firm of Darling and Pearson silenced all the critics when the new Bank of Dominion building was completed in 1914.

  Pearson and Darling would work on a great many number of Toronto landmarks from the early 20th century, including Flavelle House (now a part of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law), Convocation Hall and the Sanford Fleming Building (both also located at the University of Toronto), wings of both the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Bank of Commerce building, which still stands at King and Jordan streets, and is a neighbour of the Dominion Bank building. The architectural firm's work on the Dominion Bank building was acclaimed as an attractive addition to Toronto's blossoming financial district.

NOW : The (former) Dominion Bank building at 1 King Street West, as it appears today.
In addition to the building's soaring height of twelve storeys, there were certainly other grand properties to the building, too. The Grand Banking Hall, on the second floor, boasted a forty-five foot high ceiling. The hall seems cavernous, measuring 154 feet long and 68 feet wide. In a time when the bank lobbies of today are only large enough to fit a few bank machines, the banking hall of the 1914 Dominion Bank seems enormous indeed. The massive nature of the building was also supported by an excavation that went thirty-five feet beneath street level.

NOW : The grand banking hall at the Dominion Bank today.  Like a number of historic venues, the bank has been converted to entertainment space.  As familiar as we are with small little vestibules for automated banking machines, it's hard to remember a time when so much space was needed to efficiently process bank customers.
The vault located in the basement soon became a famous feature of the Dominion Bank. Located at the base of a grand marble staircase that leads down from the main floor, the vault was at one time considered to be one of the biggest and best in Canada. It measures thirty-three square feet square, and has a height of twenty-five feet. The vault is actually divided into two levels. The upper one is known as the Safety Deposit Vault and the lower one is known as the Treasury Vault. The circular door to the upper vault is over four feet thick, and has a circumference of over seven feet.  Before the door could be installed, it was pulled down Yonge Street by a team of horses.  This turned into something of a procession and was covered by local newspapers, which no doubt enhanced the bank's profile. 

THEN : This photograph from 1914 shows the vault of the Dominion Bank being transported to the new bank headquarters at Yonge and King streets.
NOW : The marble staircase that leads down from the refurbished main floor of the bank, downstairs to the Safety Deposit Vaults.

NOW : The massive vault in the basement as it appears today.

With the merger of the Dominion Bank with the Bank of Toronto in 1955, many of the corporate functions of the new Toronto-Dominion Bank were moved to what had been the Bank of Toronto headquarters, just down the street at the southwest corner of King and Bay streets. A branch of the bank did continue to occupy the building at King and Yonge streets into the 1990s. Ownership changed in 1999, when the old Dominion Bank Building at 1 King Street West was bought up to form the nucleus of a new hotel and condominium complex. By 2006, the adjacent glass and steel tower, nicknamed “the Sliver”, was completed and the complex – commonly referred to as the 1 King West Hotel - opened for business.

NOW : The Dominion Bank building and "the Sliver" at 1 King Street West.
The Dominion Bank printed its first currency in 1871, with another series following shortly after in 1873. Available denominations were $4, $5, $10, $20 and $100 bills. The $4 bill shown here carried a portrait of Prince Arthur, who had been born in 1850 and who would go on to become a Governor General of Canada. His mother, Queen Victoria, is pictured on the $5 bill. Like early banknotes from the Bank of Toronto, these often fell prey to counterfeiters, so authentic banknotes are very rare today.

THEN : $4 and $5 banknotes from the Dominion Bank shortly after it opened.  The $4 banknote features Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, who would serve as a Governor General of Canada.  He had many connections with Toronto.  Prince Arthur Road, which runs west from Avenue Road, just north of Bloor Street, is named for him.

In a five year period between 1876 and 1881, the Dominion Bank printed a series of 110,000 banknotes with a denomination of $4, 312,000 banknotes with a denomination of $5, and 105,000 banknotes with a denomination of $10. Like other banknotes from the Dominion Bank, these are considered to be rare and valuable today.

THEN : Banknotes issued from the Dominion Bank between 1876 and 1881.  Generally speaking, the Dominion Bank issued banknotes that were more elaborate and vibrant than those of the Bank of Toronto.
Through to the final years of the nineteenth century, banknotes from the Dominion Bank continued to display the signature of James Austin. He died in 1897 and his son Albert William Austin (1857 to 1934) took over the family fortunes.

THEN : Signatures on the banknotes from the Dominion Bank at the end of the nineteenth century began to reflect a change in bank management, when Albert William Austin took over after his father's death in 1897.

In 1931, the Dominion Bank issued a banknote series in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. The various denominations show a uniform type of design. A portrait of Albert William Austin appears on the banknotes, along with one of Clarence A. Bogert. Austin was the president of the bank from 1925 until 1933, and Bogert was president from 1933 until 1934. $5 bills were the most commonly printed, with one million of them going into circulation. 600,000 of the $10 bills were printed, 46,000 of the $20 bills were printed, 8,800 of the $50 bills were printed, and only 6,800 of the $100 bills were printed. This gives you an idea as to the relative scarcity of each of them, and a sense of the corresponding numismatic value.

THEN : The 1931 series of banknotes from the Dominion Bank, featuring the portraits of Albert Austin (left) and Clarence Bogert.
Although the $5 and $10 banknotes issued by the Dominion Bank are more common than other issues, they were still designed in a very attractive manner. Austin and Bogert have disappeared off the banknotes in favour of Clifton Carlisle, the new bank president, and Dudley Dawson, the vice-president. These banknotes, as well as those produced in 1938, were slightly smaller than those previously issued by the Dominion Bank.

THEN : The $5 and $10 banknotes issued by the Dominion Bank in 1938, featuring Clifton Carlisle and Dudley Dawson.
The 1938 $5 and $10 banknotes featured portraits of Robert Rae and Clifton Carlise.

THEN : The 1938 $5 and $10 banknotes featuring Robert Rae and Clifton Carlisle.
Here's a throwback to an advertisement produced by Canada Trust, before they amalgamated with Toronto-Dominion. It showcases a brand new technology in banking – the ATM. Johnny Cash made a cameo appearance to help Canada Trust to convince bankers that the “Johnny Cash cash machine” was a safe, secure and convenient way to do banking.
Don't go away! An upcoming article will relate the history of institutions like the Royal Bank and the Bank of Nova Scotia.