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Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Medicine Hat

Other Names:
Medicine Hat Bank of Commerce

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is a two-and-a-half storey gable-roofed brick structure, in the Classical Revival style of the Edwardian era, located on three city lots in downtown Medicine Hat.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Medicine Hat lies in its representation of the evolution of southern Alberta's urban centres amid the economic expansion of the pre-First World War period. It is also significant as an excellent example of the classical architectural style favoured by public and commercial buildings at this time.

At the turn of the twentieth century, central Canadian banks expanded their interests in the Maritimes and the booming Prairie west. In 1902, the manager of the Winnipeg branch of what was then the Canadian Bank of Commerce, Sir John Aird, toured the North-West Territories and recommended the establishment of new branches. Medicine Hat was growing rapidly as a divisional point on the railway, a supply depot for ranchers, and a nascent industrial centre thanks to its supplies of natural gas and coal. The construction of the stately bank building in Medicine Hat illustrated the Canadian Bank of Commerce's confidence in the buoyant economy of south eastern Alberta during the great wave of immigration after 1896. It also represented an attempt to compete for local business and the Western Canadian grain trade against its rival, the Bank of Montreal.

The Classical Revival style of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Medicine Hat is typical of many bank buildings of the time. The robust massing and elegant detailing were intended to project stability, sophistication, and permanence - desirable qualities for any financial institution. The bank is one of a few pre-1914 structures that remain in downtown Medicine Hat.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 258)


Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce resides in such character-defining elements as:

Exterior:
- original brick and stone detailing on symmetrical facades, including red brown brick set in common bond trimmed with ashlar and corner quoins;
- pedimented central front gable above slightly projecting central bay;
- pedimented gables on each end of the building;
- oculus window in the front pediment and blind oculi in the other gables;
- paired, glazed terra cotta fluted pilasters, topped with Corinthian capitals, flanking the entrance and defining the central bay;
- full classical entablature of a two part moulded-stone architrave, a frieze on which is carved the bank's name, and pressed metal cornice with modillions;
- front and side entrances, capped by a flat hood supported on consoles;
-fenestration pattern, square-hooded windows on the first floor with moulded surrounds and keystones, smaller rectangular windows on the second storey including a tripartite rectangular window with stone mullions in the centre of the front facade;
- two-storey rear gable-roofed addition (built 1913);
- cedar shingle roofs.

Interior:
- original skylights on the main floor ceiling;
- original wall, ceiling and floor finishes as well as door and window trim, hardware, and light fixtures on the upper two floors.


Location



Street Address: 577 - 2 Street SE
Community: Medicine Hat
Boundaries: Lot 41, Block 15, Plan 9411655
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
4
4
4
5
5
5
5
12
12
12
12
31
31
31
31
03
04
05
06

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
9411655
1491
1491
15
15
15
41
30
19




Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
50.040350 -110.676437 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1991/03/25

Historical Information

Built: 1908 to 1908
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):
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was founded in August 1866 by Toronto financial interests and remained a Central Canadian Institution until the turn of the century, when expansion broadened the Bank's interests in the Maritimes and the Prairies. In 1902, a tour of the North West Territories was conducted by the manager of the Winnipeg branch, Sir John Aird, who recommended the establishment of new branches in what is now southern Alberta. The Medicine Hat branch first opened in rented quarters, but business was so successful in the burgeoning town that in 1907, the branch constructed its building.


ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Medicine Hat is a two and a half storey gable roofed structure built of brick in a loosely classical style in 1907. Its erection illustrated the Commerce Bank's confidence in the buoyant economy of south eastern Alberta during the grave wave of immigration of that period. Its presence in Medicine Hat, as in many Canadian Pacific Railroad towns rivalled that of the Bank of Montreal in capturing the business of local industry and the financial management of the Western Canadian grain trade. While classical detailing was evident in most of the CIBC buildings, in this case, an adaptation of traditional Ontario gable styles is clearly evident. It is one of a few pre-1914 structures which remain in downtown Medicine Hat.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0184
Designation File: DES 0258
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 18700
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 258)
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