Being “first” in Canada has long been a source of pride for people at BMO. The line “Canada’s first bank” began appearing in the window of bank branches in 1950, and was adopted as the standard sign-off in our advertising.

In 1967, when the “M-bar” logo was launched, the tagline became an official part of the brand. Later, when a vibrant blue was adopted in place of green as the bank’s official colour, it immediately became known as “First Bank Blue.”

In 1975, Bank of Montreal became the principal tenants of a new 72-story office tower in the heart of Toronto’s financial district at the corner of King and Bay Streets. It was named First Bank Tower, and later changed to First Canadian Place.

The Brown Brothers building at 59 and 61 Wall Street in Manhattan

1818: First agency in the U.S.

The young Montreal Bank established its first agency in the United States in 1818. In 1859, the population of New York had swelled to 800,000. That year, a rail link between Montreal and New York was completed, and the bank established a permanent office in Manhattan’s bustling financial district. This was 41 years after the bank had established an agency there, and marked the first permanent office of any Canadian bank in the U.S.

The one-room office was located at 23 William Street. It was so cramped, the bank soon moved a few blocks to 32 Pine Street, a stone’s throw from Wall and Nassau, the crossroads of American finance.

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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.

BMO is a presenting sponsor of the Montréal en Histoires project, celebrating the 375th anniversary of Montreal and BMO’s bicentennial. The sponsorship includes a variety of technology-driven projects and a mobile app.

Visit the Montréal en Histoires site to learn more.


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