Bank of Montreal leaving historic building in Winnipeg after more than 100 years

Cars travel down Main Street past the Bank of Montreal building in 1938. Many of the buildings in this photo are still standing. Courtesy of Archives of Manitoba

An historic building at Winnipeg’s most iconic corner is losing a long-time tenant.

The Bank of Montreal has occupied 335 Main St. for more than a century, but according to a letter sent to bank customers, it’s on the move.

The bank isn’t going far, however.

The famous Main Street branch – as well as the branch at Portage Avenue and Hargrave Street – will be moving across the street, into the main floor of 201 Portage Avenue.

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The iconic Portage and Main building, built in 1913, has been a municipally-designated heritage site since 1980.

It’s perhaps best known for its nine-foot-tall statue of a Canadian soldier, memorializing the more than 200 bank staff who died in the First World War.

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CentreVenture’s Brent Bellamy told 680 CJOB it will be difficult to repurpose the building, but it’s not all bad news.

“It’ll be really great to see the ground floor of 201 Portage finally developed,” he said.

“It’s been a blank wall on Portage Avenue for a long time, so there is positive to it.”

Bellamy said the historic building is one of the last remaining pieces of a once internationally-famous strip of Main Street.

“That strip of land there between the Union Bank at the bend in Main Street, all the way to Portage and Main, was the most expensive real estate property in North America at the time,” he said.

“It was called Bankers’ Row and it was lined with about 20 different banks from that corner to Portage and Main, so it was really a phenomenal thing.

“(The Bank of Montreal) was really the crowning piece.”

Because of the building’s unique history and its high profile in the city, the bank is holding a public meeting on Sept. 17 at the Fort Garry Hotel to answer questions.

WATCH: Through the years: images of Winnipeg’s historic intersection

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Through the years: images of Winnipeg’s historic intersection



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