By George Manz
In the early 1880s, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) began bringing settlers into present-day southern Saskatchewan to farm the prairie landscape.
The village of Weyburn was founded in 1899, six years before the Province of Saskatchewan entered Canadian Confederation. Earlier in the decade, the federal government divided the southern region of the North-West Territories into four districts, including the District of Assiniboia, which comprised the southernmost quarter of present-day Saskatchewan and later included Weyburn, plus the District of Saskatchewan, which sat just north of Assiniboia.
Weyburn was incorporated as a village in 1900, attained town status in 1903 and received its city charter a decade later as it became the province’s sixth city.
By 1902, a small group of U.S. settlers from South Dakota and Minnesota formed the Weyburn Security Company in the new village. They purchased 50,000 acres of land with the aim to settle southeastern Saskatchewan but soon realized for their combined real estate, private banking, insurance and lumber business to succeed, they needed to set up a chartered bank.
In 1910, the group petitioned the Canadian Parliament for a charter to incorporate as the Weyburn Security Bank.
On Jan. 1, 1911, the Weyburn Security Bank opened for business with $1 million in capital and branches in nine rural southern Saskatchewan towns and villages. Within 13 years, the bank expanded with branches in 27 different towns and villages in addition to Weyburn, but for more than 20 years, the small financial establishment was forced to compete with much larger Canadian chartered banks.
Initially, the Weyburn Security Bank prospered by providing banking and other services to its mainly farming clientele. Unfortunately, the Great Depression resulted in three successive crop failures.
The Weyburn bank then had discussions with the Imperial Bank of Canada, which until then had no branches south of the CPR main line, running from Montreal, Qué., to Port Moody, B.C.
In 1931, the Weyburn Security Bank ceased to exist after it merged with the Imperial Bank of Canada.
The Imperial Bank of Canada continued until 1961, when it amalgamated with the Canadian Bank of Commerce to become the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce – commonly known today as CIBC.