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Union Bank Building

Edmonton

Other Names:
James Richardson Building
North West Trust Building
Old Union Bank
Richardson Building
Union Bank (Old)
Union Bank Inn
Union Bank of Canada Building

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Union Bank Building is an early twentieth century three-storey rectangular brick and limestone faced building with an ornate street facade. It is located on a city lot on the south side of Jasper Avenue facing 100 A Street in the heart of downtown Edmonton.

Heritage Value
Historical: The Union Bank Building is significant for the role it played in the banking and investment history of Edmonton for over 69 years. As the only remaining bank building of seven built before World War One, it demonstrates the presence of eastern Canadian banks on Jasper Avenue at that time. Its construction in 1910 reflected the expanding needs of the Union Bank's Edmonton branch, during the period of Edmonton's economic boom. The Union Bank Building has shown a remarkable continuity of ownership and occupancy by financial institutions. Purchased in 1928 by Winnipeg's James Richardson and Sons Ltd., it served as an Edmonton base for their grain trading and stock broking business, and was then occupied from 1969 by the North-West Trust Company, which owned the building from 1979 to 1982. The Union Bank Building is significant as the location of a variety of businesses that occupied offices in the building over several decades, including the Cunnard Steamship Co. Ltd.

Architectural: The Union Bank Building demonstrates the sophisticated vision of its architect, the British-trained Roland Lines (1876 to 1916) who designed several other distinctive Edmonton buildings, including the Alex Taylor School (1908), Strathcona Collegiate Institute (1909), and the nearby Canadian Permanent Building (1910) on Jasper Avenue. The Union Bank Building is significant for its solid imposing street facade with classical elements inspired by the Italian Renaissance, most notably, the rusticated ground floor, giant order pilasters and open-bed pediments with oversize keystones above the second floor windows. The central entrance represented an innovation in functional design at the time, whereby the bank entrance also served upstairs offices and third floor living quarters for bank employees.

Landmark: The Union Bank Building has acquired landmark value due to its position at the south end of 100 A Street and because of the high visibility of its exposed party wall above a pedestrian plaza on the east side as one travels west on Jasper Avenue.

Source: City of Edmonton (Bylaw: 11287)


Character-Defining Elements
Form and massing of the building on its visible facades:
- Original features of the north facade including the rusticated base with four ground level arched window openings, six giant order pilasters with ionic capitals, ten first and second floor window openings, and all associated decorative brick and limestone elements;
- Sheet metal cornice with dentils;
- Light well and ten window openings on the east and west facades, which reflect the original functional requirements of interior offices and living quarters for bank employees;
- Ghost signs advertising Cunnard Steamship Co. Ltd. and James Richardson and Sons on east facade


Location



Street Address: 10053 Jasper Avenue
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Lot 6, Plan F
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

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

6


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.540584 -113.492177 Secondary Source NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1996/08/20

Historical Information

Built: 1910 To 1911/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Bank or Stock Exchange
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Hotel, Motel or Inn
Architect: Roland Lines
Builder: Edinger and Nesbit
Context: HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The Union Bank of Canada was founded in 1866 in Quebec. It quickly established itself as Canada's "pioneer bank" and moved across the country opening branches on the edge of settlement. By 1899, they had seven branches in the Northwest and Alberta's first branch opened in Lethbridge in 1887. In 1925, the Union Bank merged with the Royal Bank. Of their two major Alberta banks, only the Edmonton branch remains as the Calgary branch was torn down to make way for the Glenbow Alberta Institute.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

Edmonton experienced a building boom in the years before the First World War. During this time, the Bank of Commerce, the Bank of British North America, the Royal Bank and the Union Bank all built impressive new banks with classicizing details. Of these, only the Union Bank remains. It is a significant reminder of Alberta's pre-war building boom.

(Site Information Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0013
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 4933
Website Link: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/planning_development/historic-resources.aspx
Data Source: City of Edmonton, Planning and Development Department, 10250 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 3P4 (Digital File: 565501)
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