Three-storey vault

Winnipeg Main Office vault, circa 1920.

Winnipeg main office vault, circa 1920.

Built into all three floors of the Winnipeg main branch in 1912, this was the thickest and most secure bank vault ever made.

The vault had three sections. Day-to-day business needs were met by the bank’s cash vault, located on the main floor. A second section served as a book vault to secure ledgers and various account books. The basement-floor section – 32′ long, 9′ 2″ wide and 8′ high – served as the bank’s safety deposit vault.

The steel in the doors and the lining of the vault alone totaled 250 tons. The outer door was 18.5″ thick and weighed 18 tons, while the inner door weighed 10 tons, and they were reinforced by thick layers of corundum to prevent burning through the door. The outer doors featured 24 solid steel locking bolts, 4″ in diameter, and two combination locks on each door. The codes were known only to two officers of the bank. Quadruple time locks ensured extra security, as did security patrols and “electric protection.”

An elaborate daily ritual accompanied the opening and closing of the vaults in almost every branch across Bank of Montreal territory.


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