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Merchants Bank of Canada Building


Other Names:
Former Bank of Montreal Building
Bank of Montreal
Merchants Bank of Canada
Sedgewick Bank Building

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Merchants Bank of Canada in Sedgewick is a two-storey structure with cast stone concrete block exterior walls. Built in 1910, it has a flat roof with a parapet, cornice and a chimney located on the south elevation. The front (east) elevation features two windows on the second floor, indicating a residential apartment and a double doorway flanked by windows on the main floor. The bank building occupies two lots on 47th Street in Sedgewick's main commercial district.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of Sedgewick's Merchants Bank of Canada lies in its identity as an early and excellent example of cast stone concrete block construction, atypical of small town Alberta bank branch buildings.

Banks built in Alberta's smaller communities prior to the First World War were typically wood frame structures with flat roofs based on a three-bay plan. The Merchants Bank of Canada building in Sedgewick, built in 1910, differs markedly from the norms of bank design in some ways, while conforming in others. Instead of being a wood clad building, the Sedgewick bank distinctively features a cast stone concrete block superstructure. This heavy use of concrete is unusual for small-town construction for this period. Concrete construction, both block and poured, was rare in Alberta prior to the twentieth century. After 1900, concrete was used with greater frequency, particularly after the establishment of concrete manufacturers in Calgary, in 1908, and at Exshaw, in 1910. However, while concrete was highly valued for its durability and fireproofing qualities, it was rarely used in such large quantities due to the relative difficulty of transporting this heavy material and the wider availability of wood and brick. Consequently, concrete was used most frequently for basements and foundations, but not for other structural components. Sedgewick's Merchants Bank of Canada building is significant in that it is an early example of concrete being used as the predominant structural material. The cast stone concrete blocks used to build the Sedgewick Merchants Bank of Canada building were produced by a local company with sand from nearby Lake Sedgewick. Following common practices used elsewhere in Canada, the blocks were moulded to resemble rusticated stone. These moulded blocks cover the majority of the building's four exterior walls, giving the building a uniform gray colour. These blocks were also used as the base of a fence that enclosed a rear garden plot and ran along the north side of the lot. Variation in the building's facades is provided through the use of smooth faced concrete blocks to create belt courses at the lintel level of the first and second storey windows and at the sill level of the second storey windows.

Other than the use of concrete as a major construction material, the bank demonstrates features typical of many small town Alberta banks. It is two-storey structure based on a three-bay design. The first floor housed the bank while the upper floor contained an apartment for the bank manager. A doorway to the second floor staircase is located on the north edge of the front facade, throwing off the otherwise highly symmetrical design of the building. Although the building is sparsely ornamented, it does demonstrate some classical detailing, including columns, pilasters, cornices, pediments, parapets and moulded ornamentation. These features are commonly found in bank design of this period and were integrated to communicate a sense of stability and permanence. The building operated as a Merchants Bank of Canada branch until 1921, at which time the parent bank amalgamated with the Bank of Montreal. In 1976, the Bank of Montreal moved its Sedgewick branch into a modern building.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1490)

Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage value of the Merchants bank of Canada in Sedgewick include elements such as its:

Exterior Elements
- location in the Sedgewick's main commercial district;
- exterior walls clad in locally manufactured cast stone concrete blocks moulded to resemble rusticated stone;
- belt courses of smooth-faced concrete blocks at the first and second storey lintel level and second storey sill level;
- smooth-faced concrete window sills;
- cast stone concrete block parapet on the front and side elevations;
- concrete chimney projecting from the south elevation;
- cornice capped with smooth-faced concrete blocks;
- predominant natural gray colour of the cast stone concrete blocks throughout the building;
- flat roof;
- large wooden balcony or fire escape at the rear of the building with a built in wooden storage shed;
- front (east) elevation fenestration and doorway pattern with a double main entrance with space for transom windows flanked by one large and one narrow window opening, and a doorway with transom on the northern edge of the first storey, and two large openings on the second storey;
- south elevation fenestration pattern of bands of four openings on the first and second storey;
- north elevation fenestration pattern of irregularly spaced openings, two on the first storey and three on the second storey;
- rear (west) fenestration and doorway pattern with a single window opening and a doorway with original door on the second storey and a single window opening and a doorway with transom and original door on the ground storey;
- concrete steps at the front of the building;
- wooden window and door frames;
- iron bars on basement windows;
- cast stone concrete blocks forming the base of a former fence-line that runs along the north side of the building and around the perimeter of a former garden plot to the building's rear.

Interior Elements
- differentiation of space between the publicly accessible first floor and private residential space on the second floor;
- wooden floor and roof supporting structure;
- many original doors and wood trim on both floors;
- original brick fireplace with metal grill, oak mantle and glazed brick tile surround, located on the second floor;
- decorative oak room divider on the second floor;
- original maple wood strip flooring on portions of the second floor;
- lath and plaster walls;
- coal chute doors in the basement;
- some original plumbing fixtures, such as a sink on the main floor and a claw foot bathtub on the second floor.


Street Address: 4813 - 47 Street
Community: Sedgewick
Boundaries: Lots 20 and 21, Block 2, Plan 3825P
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4 (ptn.)
5 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
3825 P
3825 P

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.774268 -111.692707 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2009/06/24

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Bank or Stock Exchange
Current Function(s): Leisure : Museum

The town site of Sedgewick was surveyed by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1906 during the construction of its branch line from Camrose to Hardisty. The town site immediately began to develop as a service centre for the adjacent area in which settlement was stimulated by the CPR's establishment of a number of ready-made farms.

The Merchants Bank of Canada placed a branch line in Sedgewick in its very first year. This Montreal based bank was one of the most aggressive chartered banks in Canada during the boom of the 1900s, and one of the first to establish itself in the Canadian west. By 1921, when it was taken over by the Bank of Montreal, it had over four hundred branches from the Maritimes to Vancouver Island.

The Sedgewick branch of the Merchants Bank of Canada opened in September 1906. J.L. Clarke, the first manager, played a variety of roles in the economic and social life of the community. In addition to being bank manager, he also served as president of the Board of Trade in 1908, 1909 and 1910 and proved up a homestead south of the town on which he specialized in raising of purebred stock.

The bank occupied rented quarters until the fall of 1910, when it moved into its new building. The upper storey of the building served as the manger's residence. In 1921, ownership of the property was transferred to the Bank of Montreal that occupied the building until 1976.

The Sedgewick Bank building reflects the traditional preference of banks for classically inspired architecture, with its clear articulation of space on the front facade and the entablature. The concrete blocks manufactured in Sedgewick by the Barn Grain Company Limited were modified to simulate rusticated sandstone.

The building also reflects the common practice of including living quarters on the second floor.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0649
Designation File: DES 1490
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 38464
Website Link: N/A
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. 1490)
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