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Bank of Montreal Building


Other Names:
The Gate Church

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The two-storey Bank of Montreal building has a flat roof, trimmed sandstone cladding, a polished brown granite base and entry feature. It is located on a corner lot on a commercial avenue in the downtown core of Lethbridge.

Heritage Value
The Bank of Montreal building is significant for its associations with post-World War II commercial development in Lethbridge, the Bank of Montreal, and modern commercial design.

The Bank of Montreal building is an important example of post-World War II commercial development in Lethbridge. The original building was purpose-built by the Bank of Montreal in 1906 as a two-storey brick building but by 1954 the bank wished to modernize their operations. The Bank of Montreal engaged the Calgary firm of Rule Wynn Rule Architects with local associate architect firm Meech Mitchell and Associates to design a new steel building, clad with Indiana Limestone and Granite, articulated as a strong minimalist exterior to reflect the city’s modern prosperity. Bruce Wright Architect noted as a consultant on the project, was the chief architect for the Bank of Montreal from 1945 until 1963. He ensured the Bank of Montreal had a consistent image across Canada, overseeing the design and construction of all their post-war bank branch designs. The population increase in Lethbridge due to returning war veterans and their growing families, combined with the tremendous expansion in agriculture, ranching, industry, and oil and gas fields made the city very prosperous in the post-war years. The Bank of Montreal building is representative of the tremendous growth that occurred in Lethbridge following the Second World War.

The building is significant for its association with the Bank of Montreal. The first Bank of Montreal opened in Montreal in 1817, and the Lethbridge branch of the bank was opened in 1897. The bank constructed a new brick building on this location at the corner of 3 Avenue and 6 Street South in 1906. In 1954, the new building was constructed in place of the original brick structure. The Bank of Montreal closed this branch in 1997, after more than ninety years at this location.

The Bank of Montreal building is significant as a rare surviving example of commercial design in Lethbridge with a restrained Art Deco influence that displays some Art Moderne influence. The style evolved from earlier, more adorned Art Deco architecture after the Second World War and emphasized simplicity of design with clean architectural lines, new building materials, and the elimination of ornament. The basic rectangular floorplan, minimal lines, and modern materials such as the unadorned block and the polished granite are all hallmarks of Art Moderne architecture. The building also clearly exemplifies a heavy, solid, symmetrical appearance still popular with bank architecture in Canada from this period. The wrapping stone façade, with its thick chamfered corner and tall, narrow, vertical windows reinforce for the bank’s customers an image of strength, dependability and security, consistent as an architectural presence across Canada.

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements as expressed in the form, massing, and materials of the 1954 two-storey commercial building include:

- The flat roof;
- The unique pattern and materiality of narrow and wide bands of Indiana Limestone cladding with vertical joints;
- The polished granite frontispiece;
- The vertical granite cove moulding above the window on the frontispiece;
- The polished granite plinth at street level with right-angled corners;
- The pattern, style and construction of all original steel casement windows and doors;
- Fluting above the north entrance 2nd storey window;
- North entrance night deposit box;
- Chamfered north east corner;
- The convex limestone headers over the tall vertical windows on the east elevation;
- Recessed light fixture on north east corner;
- Carved headers;
- Polished granite sills and steps; and
- The granite framed entrances

- Large, uninterrupted double-height main banking hall with partially open mezzanine above the entry;
- Fluted plasterwork and steel and bronze balustrade;
- Bronze gate to safe;
- Marble window sills;
- The dramatic convex vertical plaster fluting on the west and south walls;
- 7 - 6 panelled steel casement windows;
- North entrance marble wall;
- Two bank vaults in basement and one on main floor, each with double door system of closure;
- Stairwell:
- Polished terrazzo treads, risers and landings;
- Square steel newel posts; and
- Bronze handrail and steel railings.


Street Address: 522 - 3 Avenue South
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Lot 37, Block 32, Plan 9810644
Contributing Resources:

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.695567 -112.83897 Digital Maps NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2019/05/27

Historical Information

Built: 1954 to 1954
Significant Date(s) 1954 to 1997
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Bank or Stock Exchange
Current Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect: Bruce Wright Architect
Meech Mitchell and Associates
Rule Wynn Rule Architects

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0005
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 97946
Website Link: http://www.thegate.org/home.html
Data Source: Planning & Development, City of Lethbridge, City Hall, 910 - 4 Ave S, Lethbridge, AB, T1J 0P6
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