The Bank of British North America at 436 Main Street is the only neo-Palladian banking hall remaining in Winnipeg, and is probably the oldest structure of its type on Bankers’ Row of Main Street. It can also be hypothesized that this building possesses the city’s oldest standing steel frame. Before its demise in 1918, the Bank of British North America enjoyed a long, but ultimately unprofitable, history. This London-based institution first opened its doors in rented premises at 371 Main Street in 1887. After several moves in leased accommodation, the bank decided to build its own monumental banking hall. Adjacent to the Dominion Bank on the west side of Main Street, the Bank of British North America commenced operations in 1904, and business continued until absorption by the Bank of Montreal fourteen years later.
In 1919, the new owner sold the structure to its sister corporation, Royal Trust, and this concern utilized the banking hall and upper storeys until the mid 1960s. Their signage still exists on the building. In 1909, just five years after the bank’s opening, directors opted for an interior remodelling. Toronto architects Darling & Pearson received a commission to transform the banking hall into the equivalent of their other Winnipeg creations and to refurbish second storey rental quarters into administrative offices. There was also a third floor residence.
Its current glazing pattern is quite attractive, making the building look like an architectural drawing, concentrating on its stone details.