It’s a walk through the history of the city as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce looks back at 100 years of banking on the North coast.
The bank at the corner of Fourth street and Third Avenue, (beside City Hall) held an open house on Thursday night and plans for a cake cutting ceremony on Friday at 10 am.
The Wednesday edition of the Daily News recreated some of the early days of banking in Prince Rupert, as part of their preview of the festivities.
Bank celebrating long roots in Prince Rupert
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
Special to the Daily News
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
On Feb. 1, 1907 the Canadian Bank of Commerce opened its doors for business in Prince Rupert.
This week, the bank, now called the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), is celebrating its 100th year of being in business on the North Coast.
Bank staff won't be calling on community members to help rescue a safe that has broken through the sled on the wharf. Something the first manager E.W. Carr Hilton did when he arrived by the steamer Amur on Jan. 12, l907.
In fact, Hilton spent his first night in Prince Rupert sitting on the safe all night until it could be hauled safely up to the bank building on Centre Street.
Instead, the staff is inviting the public to an open house on May 17 from 6:30 - 8 p.m., and a cake-cutting ceremony on May 18 at 10 a.m., at the bank, located on the corner of Third Avenue West and Fourth Street.
Branch Manager Jan Loroff said the decision to postpone the anniversary celebrations until May, rather than hold them in February, was due to the weather.
"We did invite some former employees and chose to have the festivities in the spring before the long weekend when the weather's decent."
Visitors to the bank will be able to see a historical photo display of the various locations where the bank was located around town before it was established where it is today.
When Hilton opened the bank for business back in l907, the manager's room was the only department completed in the building. The staff converted the room into a teller's cage by barricading the door with a dining-room table. An old beer cask was used for a desk because furniture had not yet arrived.
The first depositor was the two-year-old daughter of a doctor and the amount was $1, placed in trust by her mother. Her name is blacked out in a copy of a memo written by Hilton on April 9, l907.
In the memo, Hilton described Prince Rupert as "the embryo city of the Pacific" with its two-mile wharfage being built and several donkey engines at work clearing the townsite.
He also wrote: "There are several nice buildings in Prince Rupert today and many plans are in preparation for more; amongst the most prominent are the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway offices, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, Kelly Carruther's Store, Prince Rupert Hardware Co and the Episcopalean Church which has just been completed, Bishop Du Vernet giving us the first communion service on Easter Sunday."
By l911 a new bank building was erected on Second Avenue.
Loroff said the original contract between the bank and the contractor is housed in the bank's vaults. That location was home to the bank until l961, when it moved to the location where it is today.
On Jan. 14, l961, one of the bank directors cut the ribbon to open the bank by using a halibut knife. Two totem poles, carved in red cedar by Chief Charlie Dudoward of the Tsimpsean Nation, were featured in the main banking hall.
That same year, the Canadian Bank of Commerce merged with the Imperial Bank of Canada to become CIBC.
In l980, the branch was renovated and expanded and in l987 it absorbed the business of the Queen Charlotte City and Sandspit branches when they were closed.