1912: Three-storey vault
In 1912, Bank of Montreal’s Winnipeg main branch vault was the heaviest and most protected ever built.
When the bank needed to transport valuables in the early days, it depended on the Miller Chest to keep them safe. This inconspicuous black box would have travelled through many dangerous and forlorn places, often in the back of stagecoaches dragged through the snow, trekking through brush and forest and hauled through the worst that a northeastern North American climate could throw at it.
Because of its valuable contents – the wealth, treasure and vital information of the bank, and the merchants and customers it served – the chest was one of the most anticipated objects to arrive in settlements and military outposts, where currency was scarce. These treasure chests often held much of a community’s wealth, destined for more secure places or for investment. It’s no surprise they were perpetually in the crosshairs of highwaymen and criminals.
The Miller Chest is a stark reminder of the hardships of early Canadian banking.
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