OTD: Bank of Montreal opens first branch

The Bank of Montreal (BMO), Canada’s oldest chartered bank, opened its first branch on today’s date in 1817.

Earlier that year, on June 23, nine Montreal merchants – prominent businessman John Richardson among them – signed articles of association to establish the bank. With £250,000 capital, BMO (then known as the Montreal Bank) would eventually issue Canada’s first domestic currency when it opened its doors on Nov. 3, 1817.

The following year, the bank opened agencies in London and New York as well as offices in Québec and the Upper Canada communities of Kingston, York, Queenston and Amherstburg.

By 1859, BMO was Canada’s largest financial institution with permanent branches in New York and Chicago.


In Canada, the bank currently operates as BMO Bank of Montreal and manages assets of more than $300 billion. With more than 900 branches worldwide, the bank serves more than seven million customers.

Nearly 200 years ago – before a single steamship had crossed the ocean, or a single railway could be built – BMO sparked the transition of Canada’s domestic trade, which evolved from the barter system into today’s modern system of finance.

BMO followed the Scottish system of banking, of which Richardson (a Scottish Quebecer) was familiar. One of the best features of this system, which was later co-opted by English bankers, was the ability to maintain numerous branches with fewer banks holding significant capital.

Immediately after BMO opened its first bank in the city from which it took its name, it began preparations to issue new paper and metallic currency to replace the various foreign currency that made up Canada’s economic system at the time. What’s more, it introduced the branch system of banking, and within months, another establishment developed into a full-fledged branch in the city of Québec and another in the town of Kingston.

It was the beginning of modern banking in Canada.

Leave a Reply

Canadian Coin News


Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Coin News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier coin publication. Canadian Coin News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.