The former Bank of Montreal at 173 Yonge Street on December 30, 1913. Toronto Archives F 1231, It. 2036.
In the first decade of the 20th century, the podium of the office tower on the northeast corner of Yonge and Queen was the site of a branch of the Bank of Montreal. When it was built, it was at one of the city’s most important intersections, sharing its advantageous location with Toronto’s two largest retailers— Eaton’s and Simpson’s. The Simpson Store is now The Bay and the site of Eaton’s is incorporated within the Eaton Centre.
The Bank of Montreal was built in 1910, designed by the architects Frank Darling and John Pearson. They chose the Italianate Renaissance style, containing a myriad of classical detailing. The windows and the doorway facing Yonge Street were richly ornamented with garlands, leaves and wreaths. The west and south facades were clad with terracotta tiles that imitated carved stone; they were supplied by Doulton and Company. The building was designed with a heavy cornice at the top, with large modillions (brackets) beneath it.
In the banking hall, in the interior, the ornate classical designs displayed on the facade were continued. Marble trim and intricate plaster mouldings added to the impressive space. The support beams in the ceiling were covered with plaster representations of flowers, fruits, and ornamental leaves. In its day, bank customers were greatly impressed by the grandness of the building, both interior and exterior.
At the beginning of the 21st century, rather than demolish the bank, its facades were restored and the interior renovated to create an entrance to the Yonge Subway. The banking hall was converted into a pedestrian space to accommodate those entering or departing the subway. Fortunately, the marble trim and classical designs were retained. A cafe was also included, where customers were able to appreciate the craftsmanship that the building displays.
Because of the bank’s excellent location, to make better use of the site, on top of the old bank they constructed an office tower of glass and steel. Despite the changes that the many decades have imposed, the bank remains an important architectural feature of the intersection, similar to when the bank was the only building located on the northeast corner of Yonge and Queen Streets.
Gazing north to the intersection of Yonge and Queen at noon on August 31, 1929. The bank is partly obscured by a Queen streetcar. Toronto Archives, Series 71, S0071, It.7132
The former Bank of Montreal building in 2014, the sunlight and shadows on its facades appearing as attractive as when it was built.
The west facade of the bank in the summer of 2014, when there was a pedestrian area on Yonge Street with planter boxes.
The bank’s doorway on Yonge Street (left) and a close-up view of the trim surrounding it (right).
Intricate designs in the overhanging cornice, the space beneath it, and the detailing above the doorway.
The former banking hall in 2014, where there is now a pedestrian space for people entering and departing the subway. The cafe is visible on the right-hand side of the photo.
Arches in the ceiling covered with plaster containing intricate designs of flowers, fruit and leaves.
Large south windows of the banking hall in 2014.
The bank and office tower that was built above it. Photo taken in 2014.
The bank on a summer night in 2014.
The former bank and the tower above it in 2014.
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To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern
Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.
To place an order for this book:
Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791
Theatres Included in the Book:
Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto
Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)
Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons
Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown
Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s
Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede
Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression
Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue