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.

Post-War Boom

North America’s rapidly expanding post-war economy fuelled unprecedented increases in household income and wealth. Banks and financial institutions also experienced something of a consumer-finance revolution after 1945. People had more and more ability to spend, borrow, deposit, and invest. They also began to demand access to an expanding range of financial products and services.

1903: The Montreal Bankers Hockey League

Established when bank president Lord Strathcona offered a cup to the best bank clerk hockey team. The games were hugely popular, drawing over 4,000 people to each game.

After the Interprovincial Bank Championship of 1914, in which Bank of Montreal trounced the Canadian Bank of Commerce, an epic ballad was written to document the highlights in dramatic fashion. The final stanza tells us the winning score:

Twice more the puck through Commerce goals is fired.
The whistle blows, the warriors’ rage subdue.
The game is won. The score stands twelve to two.
The Commerce team slinks mournfully away.
The B of M are heroes of the day!

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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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