What’s a “bee-mo”?

Ever wonder where the name “BMO” comes from? It’s the bank’s stock ticker symbol on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges. For decades, “bee-mo” was how investment industry insiders commonly referred to the bank. So it was the natural choice when considering a new name to join the companies and lines of business together – BMO Financial Group.

War and the workforce

World War I had a profound impact on Bank of Montreal’s workforce. By 1917, almost 50% of our staff – 810 men – had left their jobs to join the war effort. Women stepped in to take their place.

Prior to 1914, women stenographers were rare, even at head office, and women accountants were unheard of. By the war’s end, 42% of our employees were women. Hundreds of women had been hired not only as stenographers and secretaries but also in every clerical position below the rank of manager.

A similar shift occurred during the Second World War. Between 1939 and 1945, 1,269 men and 181 women – approximately one quarter of the bank’s staff – joined the armed services. At the war’s end, 40% of Bank of Montreal employees were women.

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Covers of Whom Fortune Favours volumes 1 & 2

The definitive history of one of North America's most enduring banks, Whom Fortune Favours: The Bank of Montreal and the Rise of North American Finance, Volume 1 & 2, by Laurence B. Mussio.

Visit the McGill Queen’s University Press site to order your copy.

A visually rich tribute to Canada’s first bank, A Vision Greater than Themselves: The Making of the Bank of Montreal, 1817-2017 by Laurence B. Mussio tells the compelling story of the bank from its origins to present day.

Visit the McGill Queen’s University Press site to order your copy.


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