On This Day in 1924 – the last locally owned bank closes its doors.

Jan 2, 1924 – Bank of Hamilton merges with the Commerce Bank (later known as the CIBC).

Donald McInnes (1824-1900) led the effort to create a bank to serve the needs of the local business community after the Gore Bank (1836-1870) was taken over by the Bank of Commerce.  McInnes had moved to Upper Canada in 1840 and by 1852 he had established D. McInnes and Company in Hamilton.  As a manufacturers’ agent and dry-goods wholesaler, he would import goods from New York City and England. McInnes believed that access to local banking was critical to expanding his business.  The Bank of Hamilton was incorporated in 1871 and opened in the  McInnes Building at the corner of King Street and John Street.  McInnes served as the banks first President from 1872 to 1881.

By 1879, McInnes was the largest dry-goods wholesaler west of Toronto. However, fortunes quickly changed when the economic depression of 1872 to 1879 caused a number of banks to halt activities in the summer of 1879.  This crisis happens just as the McInnes fire of Aug 1st, 1879 destroyed his office and warehouse with the insurance not being enough to cover the losses. After four years, the Bank of Hamilton got a new building at the corner of King and James.

In 1905, the Bank added eight stories to the exiting four floors, making it the first skyscraper in Hamilton.  Between 1898 and 1910, the bank opened 128 branches in Ontario and Western Canada. After the 1924 merger, the building serve as bank until 1985 when the CIBC tore down the structure and replaced it with the current glass office towers. McInnes’ wealth from his business and banking enabled him to buy Dundurn Park in 1872.  A year before his death in 1900, he sold Dundurn to the City, thus helping to keep a historic Hamilton landmark.

About Chris Erskine

Visual Artist and independent film-maker. Try to post summaries of my artistic activities once per month. View all posts by Chris Erskine

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