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Old Imperial Bank of Canada


Other Names:
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Imperial Bank of Canada Building

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Old Imperial Bank of Canada is a two-storey commercial building with a front-facing gable roof, clapboard siding, large classically inspired pilasters with square capitals, and a cornice and pediment adorned with dentils. It is located on a corner lot of Main Street and Railway Avenue in the Village of Donalda, overlooking the west bank of Meeting Creek Coulee on Highway 53 in east-central Alberta.

Heritage Value
The Old Imperial Bank of Canada is significant for its association with the theme of commercial development in Donalda, as a variation on the prairie bank design of the early 1900s, and as a local landmark.
Constructed in 1928 by the Bank of Montreal after the previous bank was destroyed by fire, the Old Imperial Bank of Canada is significant for its association with the theme of commercial development in Donalda. Donalda's previous bank was constructed on the same lot in 1912 by the Merchant's Bank of Canada, and after the Merchant's Bank and the Bank of Montreal amalgamated in 1922, the Bank of Montreal assumed operations at the Donalda branch. The 1912 bank building was destroyed by fire in late 1926 or 1927, and although the valult survived, several days passed before it had cooled enough for bank employees to retrieve its contents. When the Bank of Montreal built this structure in 1928, it incorporated the original vault into the new design. In 1932 the Imperial Bank of Canada took over banking operations in Donalda and became an important source of economic stability in the community. The Imperial Bank of Canada assisted farmers through teh Great Depression by allowing them to use their life insurance as collateral for loans because the non-productive land was nearly worthless. The Imperial Bank of Canada continued to meet the financial needs of Donalda through World War Two and the subsequent economic boom. In 1961 the Imperial Bank of Canada merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce to become the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). In 1996 the CIBC closed their Donalda branch and the building was sold to the Donalda Museum Society for $1.00. Shortly thereafter the bank presented the Society with a generous donation of $5,000 to assist in restoring the structure that had become a landmark within the community. The restored bank is currently used as an art gallery and its importance to the Village of Donalda was recognized when it was designated a Registered Historic Resource by the Province of Alberta in 2003.
The Old Imperial Bank of Canada is also significant for its design, which is a variation of the prefabricated bank design found throughout the prairies in the early 1900s. The communities that rapidly populated Western Canada in the early 1900s needed banks, and the banks needed a way to quickly construct in expensive buildings that inspired confidence in investors. Prefabricated bank buildings were designed and used by several banks in Canada at the time, including the Bank of Montreal, and often incorporated classical elements such as pediments, pilasters and Palladian style entrances. The 1928 wooden frame bank building in Donalda follows these same design principles, although it is not believed to be a prefabricated structure. The Old Imperial Bank of Canada is unusual for several reasons. The Bank incorporates a pediment in its design, an element found on less than one htird of prairie banks sharing a similar overall design. The building was also constructed much later than the other prairie style banks in Alberta with known dates of construction, all of which were built prior to the First World War.
The Old Imperial Bank of Canada is significant as a landmark in Donalda. The building is one of the largest in the community, and presents the most impressive architecture. Employing Greek Revival design elements, the bank was deisgned to be visually appealing and to inspire a sense of permanence and pride when it was biult in 1928, and it continues to act as visual anchor in Donalda's commercial downtown. The building is one of the first structures seen when driving into the village along Railway Avenue, and its location, a corner lot overlooking Meeting Creek Coulee adjacent to the train station furthe renhances its value as one of Donalda's most important historic landmarks.

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements as expressed in the form, massing and mateirals of the 1928 two-storey Old Imperial Bank of Canada include:
-the front-facing gable roof with pediment and dentils;
-the clapboard siding;
-the classically inspired pilasters on the corners with inset rectangular designs and square capital;
-the cornice with dentils;
-the tall brick chimney;
-the applied lettering underneath the pediment that reads "IMPERIAL BANK OF CANADA"; and
-the pattern, style and construction of all wooden windows, especially the round window openings in the gable ends.


Street Address: 5002 Main Street
Community: Donalda
Boundaries: Lots 9 and 10, Block 2, Plan 5965AE
Contributing Resources: Building

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
9 and 10

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.585373 -112.574025 NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2009/08/13

Historical Information

Period of Significance: 1932-1996
Theme(s): Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s):
Current Function(s):

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0046
Designation File:
Related Listing(s): 4665-0827
Heritage Survey File: HS 33567
Website Link:
Data Source:
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