Bank of Montreal – Architectural Work of Art, now the Hockey Hall of Fame

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Between 1900 and 1920 - The Bank of Montreal on the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St W in the Financial District of Toronto
Between 1900 and 1920 – The Bank of Montreal on the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St W in the Financial District of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Item 224-1)

Originally the Bank of Montreal, today’s Hockey Hall of Fame is located at 30 Yonge St (at Front St W on the northwest corner) in the Financial District of Toronto.

The Impressive Architecture

Built between 1885/87, this magnificent structure was designed by architects Darling & Curry. Some say its style of architecture is Beaux-Arts, while others say Rococo. The estimated cost for the Bank of Montreal’s new Ontario head office was $100,000.

Made from Ohio freestone, the building exudes an air of opulence with its many carved stonework details.

Customers entered the Banking Room, a grand hall, through the building’s main doors on the southeast corner. The banking room is three stories in height. The lower portion of the walls is covered in rich cherrywood; the upper walls and ceiling feature elaborate plasterwork crowned with a stained glass dome.

Holbrook and Mornington of Toronto designed the plasterwork at the cost of $3,000. Throughout the room, an ornate cornice is supported by fluted columns. The octagonal-shaped ceiling is divided by eight ribs that run from the wall to the dome’s edge, and inside them are panels.

The stunning stained glass dome depicts mythological figures with provincial emblems and was designed by the Toronto-based McCausland family glasswork company. The dome is covered on the outside by a skylight.

The bank had vaults, offices, a conference room, a kitchen, luncheon rooms, washrooms and custodial apartments.

Great Fire of Toronto of 1904

In the great fire that destroyed over 100 buildings in the downtown core, the Bank of Montreal was spared. There was only one building between the bank and another left in complete ruins.

Notable Robberies

1959 - Police at the Bank of Montreal on Yonge St and Front St W during a robbery
1959 – Police at the Bank of Montreal on Yonge St and Front St W during a robbery (Toronto Public Library TSPA_0119357F)

It took 43 years, but the bank had its first theft in 1921. Police knew pretty quickly that it was an inside job. An exchange teller stole over $21,000 to cover nearly two years of shortages.

A more daring robbery attempt occurred in 1959. Two brothers broke into the bank through the roof one weekend. Unable to open the ancient treasury vault, they stayed inside and waited until staff came in for work on Monday morning. As staff and customers arrived, the brothers tied them up, 83 people in total. No one was physically hurt. The robbers got away and were eventually caught and charged with other robberies, sentenced to ten years in prison and sent back to Ireland.

Haunted Tales

1958 - The magnificent architecture of the Bank of Montreal. Made from Ohio freestone, the building exudes an air of opulence with its stonework details. Notice the water tower in the background
1958 – The magnificent architecture of the Bank of Montreal. Made from Ohio freestone, the building exudes an air of opulence with its stonework details. Notice the water tower in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 52, Item 1)

In 1982, the Toronto Star interviewed the bank’s chief messenger, Len Redwood. He held the position from 1952 to 1977 and was a leading authority on the old building. Mr Redwood was there during the 1959 robbery but said that he mostly remembers the day Dorothy, a young and beautiful teller, came to work very early one morning in 1953. A normally put-together person, she appeared dishevelled and distraught. That day, Dorothy took her life upstairs in the building using the bank’s revolver (at the time, it was common practice for banks to keep one on the premises). Detectives never found a reason why. Dorothy had no need for money as she had a healthy bank account. But, rumours swirled about an affair Dorothy may have been having with the married bank manager, who was said to have broken off their relationship the night before she died.

Since then, Len and others experienced lights switching off by themselves, heavy doors creaking open, and feeling that they were not alone. Staff have also heard footsteps behind them and felt hands on their shoulders. Mr Redwood, who insisted he did not believe in ghosts, said, “When the bank moves out, and the old building seems to be empty, Dorothy will still be there.” Click for more haunted tales.

Closing its Doors

Since 1845, a Bank of Montreal branch had been located at the corner of Yonge St and Front St W. After 137 years of service, the present-day building was in great need of repair and the branch closed in 1982.

The Hockey Hall of Fame

2019 - The entrance of the Hockey Hall of Fame on the lower level of Brookfield Place at 30 Yonge St
2019 – The entrance of the Hockey Hall of Fame on the lower level of Brookfield Place at 30 Yonge St

The former bank structure remained dormant for nearly a decade before it was purchased to build BCE Place (today’s Brookfield Place). As a part of the agreement with the city, the historic building was to be restored and made available to a non-profit cultural institution. The Hockey Hall of Fame was a perfect fit, and in 1993, Canada’s “cathedral for the icons of hockey” opened. The museum expected 325,000 visitors in the first year, but they exceeded that with a half million.

The banking room is now known as Esso Great Hall. It features many major NHL trophies on display, portraits, and biographical sketches of members. A bank vault houses the original Stanley Cup donated by Lord Stanley, championship rings and more. There are 57,000 sq ft of exhibits, interactives and theatres. Visitors can go one-on-one against animated life-size versions of today’s hockey superstars or call the play in some of hockey’s best moments.

Before moving to its present-day location, the Hockey Hall of Fame was located at Exhibition Place grounds, across from the Food Building. It opened in 1961 and shared space with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Over time, the Hockey Hall of Fame needed a larger facility.

Did You Know?

2020 - The Bank of Montreal was founded in 1817 as the Montreal Bank. Today the bank's former Ontario head office and branch at Yonge St and Front St W is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame
2020 – The Bank of Montreal was founded in 1817 as the Montreal Bank. Today the bank’s former Ontario head office and branch at Yonge St and Front St W is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame
  • The Bank of Montreal was founded as the Montreal Bank in 1817.
  • From 1839 to 1845, a post office was located on the site.
  • From 1845 to 1885, the corner was home to the bank’s previous High Renaissance-style building. It was designed by Ireland-born Kivas Tully when he was 25 years old. Mr Tully went on to design many churches, civic buildings and more throughout Ontario.
  • When the building opened in 1887, BMO customers earned 3% for saving accounts, and mortgages were 4%.
  • The building’s brick-backed walls are 0.9 m or 3 ft thick, and where the columns rise, they’re 1.4 m or 4.5 ft thick.
  • The dome is 13.7 m or 45 ft from the floor to its centre, 9.8 m or 32 ft in diameter and has 500 sq ft of glass. It was one of the first banks in the city to bring light into a banking hall.
  • In 1990, Andrew McCausland restored the stained glass his Great-Grandfather, Robert McCausland, created over a century before. In 1991, the glasswork received federal heritage designation.
  • Windsor-based Barnum’s Wire Works designed the ornamental metalwork, including the fence on the south side.
  • Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame was located in Stanley Barracks (yes, Lord Stanley, who the cup is named after) during the Canadian National Exhibition in 1955.
  • In 1973, the Bank of Montreal building was a part of Heritage Toronto’s initial induction list. Three years later, it was given designation by Ontario Heritage Trust.
  • Since 1977, BMO’s Ontario head office has been located in First Canadian Place at 100 King St W.
  • In the early 1990s, the restoration of the historic building cost $27 million.

Bank of Montreal / Hockey Hall of Fame Photos

1890 - The Bank of Montreal's Ontario head office at Yonge St and Front St W in Toronto. The building cost $100,000 to construct, and this photo was taken just a few years after completion
1890 – The Bank of Montreal’s Ontario head office at Yonge St and Front St W in Toronto. The building cost $100,000 to construct, and this photo was taken just a few years after completion (Toronto Public Library R-2012)
Between 1900 and 1920 - The Bank of Montreal on the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St W in the Financial District of Toronto
Between 1900 and 1920 – The Bank of Montreal on the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St W in the Financial District of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Item 224-1)
2022 - The Hockey Hall of Fame is located on the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St W in downtown Toronto. There are 57,000 sq ft of exhibits, interactives and theatres. Visitors can go one-on-one against animated life-size versions of today's hockey superstars or call the play in some of hockey's best moments. The Hockey Hall of Fame is housed in the magnificent former Bank of Montreal Building built in the 1880s
2022 – The Hockey Hall of Fame is located on the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St W in downtown Toronto. There are 57,000 sq ft of exhibits, interactives and theatres. Visitors can go one-on-one against animated life-size versions of today’s hockey superstars or call the play in some of hockey’s best moments. The Hockey Hall of Fame is housed in the magnificent former Bank of Montreal Building built in the 1880s
1982 - The Bank of Montreal at Yonge St and Front St W was designed by architects Darling & Curry. Notice a modernized clock and glass doors were added to the building
1982 – The Bank of Montreal at Yonge St and Front St W was designed by architects Darling & Curry. Notice a modernized clock and glass doors were added to the building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 102, Item 11)
1950 - Looking northeast from Front St W, just west of Yonge St, towards the Bank of Montreal and the former Toronto Board of Trade Building
1950 – Looking northeast from Front St W, just west of Yonge St, towards the Bank of Montreal and the former Toronto Board of Trade Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 183)
1973 - Looking northeast from Front St W, just west of Yonge St, towards the Bank of Montreal. Notice the King Edward Hotel and the Cathedral Church of St James steeple in the background
1973 – Looking northeast from Front St W, just west of Yonge St, towards the Bank of Montreal. Notice the King Edward Hotel and the Cathedral Church of St James steeple in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 52, Item 4)
Between 1979 and 1984 – Looking north up Yonge St from south of Front St towards the Bank of Montreal building on the left, which is today home to the Hockey Hall of Fame
Between 1979 and 1984 – Looking north up Yonge St from south of Front St towards the Bank of Montreal building on the left, which is today home to the Hockey Hall of Fame (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 613, Item 12)
1973 - Looking northeast towards the Bank of Montreal from Front St W, just west of Yonge St. Notice the King Edward Hotel in the background
1973 – Looking northeast towards the Bank of Montreal from Front St W, just west of Yonge St. Notice the King Edward Hotel in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 52, Item 3)
1958 - The carved stonework details on the Bank of Montreal, which is today home to the Hockey Hall of Fame
1958 – The carved stonework details on the Bank of Montreal, which is today home to the Hockey Hall of Fame (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 52, Item 2)
2022 - Carved stonework on the handsome Bank of Montreal building
2022 – Carved stonework on the handsome Bank of Montreal building
1958 - The magnificent architecture of the Bank of Montreal. Made from Ohio freestone, the building exudes an air of opulence with its stonework details. Notice the water tower in the background
1958 – The magnificent architecture of the Bank of Montreal. Made from Ohio freestone, the building exudes an air of opulence with its stonework details. Notice the water tower in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 52, Item 1)
2022 – The stunning stained glass dome inside the Great Hall of today's Hockey Hall of Fame depicts mythological figures with provincial emblems. It was designed in 1885 by the Toronto-based McCausland family glasswork company and has National Historic designation
2022 – The stunning stained glass dome inside the Great Hall of today’s Hockey Hall of Fame depicts mythological figures with provincial emblems. It was designed in 1885 by the Toronto-based McCausland family glasswork company and has National Historic designation
2022 - The heritage plaque reads:

McCausland Stained Glass

“This magnificent dome represents an extensive legacy of stained glass produced by the McCausland family and their employees for buildings throughout Canada. In business under various company names since 1856, the Toronto-based firm Robert McCausland Limited is credited with the earliest and most numerous examples of Canadian stained glass and the longest record for glasswork in North America. Richly adorned with mythological figures and provincial emblems, the dome was executed in 1885 by Robert McCausland, while working for his father, Joseph, the firm's founder.”

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
2022 – The heritage plaque reads:

McCausland Stained Glass

“This magnificent dome represents an extensive legacy of stained glass produced by the McCausland family and their employees for buildings throughout Canada. In business under various company names since 1856, the Toronto-based firm Robert McCausland Limited is credited with the earliest and most numerous examples of Canadian stained glass and the longest record for glasswork in North America. Richly adorned with mythological figures and provincial emblems, the dome was executed in 1885 by Robert McCausland, while working for his father, Joseph, the firm’s founder.”

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
2022 – Inside the Great Hall of the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was originally the Banking Room for the Bank of Montreal and was built in 1885/87
2022 – Inside the Great Hall of the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was originally the Banking Room for the Bank of Montreal and was built in 1885/87
2022 – The Stanley Cup on display in the Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto
2022 – The Stanley Cup on display in the Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto
2022 – The stained glass dome in the Hockey Hall of Fame's Great Hall.
Notice the octagonal pattern on the ceiling forms a cobweb design
2022 – The stained glass dome in the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Great Hall. Notice the octagonal pattern on the ceiling forms a cobweb design
2022 – The walls and ceiling of the Great Hall are harmoniously done in warm greens, golds and reds
2022 – The walls and ceiling of the Great Hall are harmoniously done in warm greens, golds and reds
2022 – The clock inside what was once known as the Banking Room of the Bank of Montreal, today's Hockey Hall of Fame
2022 – The clock inside what was once known as the Banking Room of the Bank of Montreal, today’s Hockey Hall of Fame
2022 – On either side of the capitals above the vault are decorative plaques. This one shows the date it was placed "A.D. 1886" inside the former Bank of Montreal building
2022 – On either side of the capitals above the vault are decorative plaques. This one shows the date it was placed “A.D. 1886” inside the former Bank of Montreal building
2022 – Once the vaults for the Bank of Montreal, today Lord Stanley's vault at the Hockey Hall of Fame houses the original Stanley Cup, a collection of Stanley Cup championship rings, removed/retired Stanley Cup bands and more
2022 – Once the vaults for the Bank of Montreal, today Lord Stanley’s vault at the Hockey Hall of Fame houses the original Stanley Cup, a collection of Stanley Cup championship rings, removed/retired Stanley Cup bands and more
2022 – The Hockey Hall of Fame's Lord Stanley exhibit inside the vaults of the former Bank of Montreal
2022 – The Hockey Hall of Fame’s Lord Stanley exhibit inside the vaults of the former Bank of Montreal
2022 – The rich wood door, trim and panelled walls and ceiling inside the former Bank of Montreal building
2022 – The rich wood door, trim and panelled walls and ceiling inside the former Bank of Montreal building
2022 – Trophies on display inside the Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame
2022 – Trophies on display inside the Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame
1904 - Looking west along Front St from just east of Yonge St after the Great Fire of Toronto 1904
1904 – Looking west along Front St from just east of Yonge St after the Great Fire of Toronto 1904 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 7561)
1950 - Looking west towards the Bank of Montreal from Yonge St and Front St
1950 – Looking west towards the Bank of Montreal from Yonge St and Front St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 160)
1959 - Police at the Bank of Montreal on Yonge St and Front St W during a robbery
1959 – Police at the Bank of Montreal on Yonge St and Front St W during a robbery (Toronto Public Library TSPA 0119357F)
1950 - The entrance of the Bank of Montreal at Yonge St and Front St W
1950 – The entrance of the Bank of Montreal at Yonge St and Front St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 112)
2021 - The wooden and metalwork doors and the carved stone details of the Bank of Montreal, today's Hockey Hall of Fame at Yonge St and Front St W
2021 – The wooden and metalwork doors and the carved stone details of the Bank of Montreal, today’s Hockey Hall of Fame at Yonge St and Front St W
2022 – At one time, this was the main customer entrance of the Bank of Montreal building at Yonge St and Front St W
2022 – At one time, this was the main customer entrance of the Bank of Montreal building at Yonge St and Front St W
2022 – A door on the west wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame
2022 – A door on the west wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame
2019 - The "Our Game" statue on the south side of the Hockey Hall of Fame depicts excited young hockey players, some climbing over the boards, ready for action. The 5 m or 17 ft long bronze statue was created by Oakville artist Edie Parker and was inspired by a 1970s ad
2019 – The “Our Game” statue on the south side of the Hockey Hall of Fame depicts excited young hockey players, some climbing over the boards, ready for action. The 5 m or 17 ft long bronze statue was created by Oakville artist Edie Parker and was inspired by a 1970s ad
2022 – The Hockey Hall of Fame plaque reads:
“The Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1943 to establish a memorial to those who have developed Canada's great winter sport - ice hockey. Its mandate is to recognize and honour the achievements of individuals and teams who have brought special distinction to the game of hockey and those who have made a major contribution to the development and advancement of hockey anywhere in the world. Built in 1885, the historic bank building at BCE Place, Toronto began a new era as "a cathedral for the icons of hockey" officially opened to the public on June 18, 1993.”
2022 – The Hockey Hall of Fame plaque reads:

“The Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1943 to establish a memorial to those who have developed Canada’s great winter sport – ice hockey. Its mandate is to recognize and honour the achievements of individuals and teams who have brought special distinction to the game of hockey and those who have made a major contribution to the development and advancement of hockey anywhere in the world. Built in 1885, the historic bank building at BCE Place, Toronto began a new era as “a cathedral for the icons of hockey” officially opened to the public on June 18, 1993.”
2022 - The monument "Canada's Team of the Century" was dedicated by the Royal Canadian Mint. It commemorates Canada's victory in the September 1972 tournament, where Team Canada faced the Soviets in an 8-game series. The monument is located on the south side of the Hockey Hall of Fame at 30 Yonge St
2022 – The monument “Canada’s Team of the Century” was dedicated by the Royal Canadian Mint. It commemorates Canada’s victory in the September 1972 tournament, where Team Canada faced the Soviets in an 8-game series. The monument is located on the south side of the Hockey Hall of Fame at 30 Yonge St
2023 - "At the Crease" statue is located inside Brookfield Place, at the entrance of the Hockey Hall of Fame's Spirit of Hockey store in Sam Pollock Square. It honours the 1972 painting by Canadian artist Ken Danby which depicts a masked hockey goalie hunched in the crease
2023 – “At the Crease” statue is located inside Brookfield Place, at the entrance of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Spirit of Hockey store in Sam Pollock Square. It honours the 1972 painting by Canadian artist Ken Danby which depicts a masked hockey goalie hunched in the crease
2019 - The entrance of the Hockey Hall of Fame on the lower level of Brookfield Place at 30 Yonge St
2019 – The entrance of the Hockey Hall of Fame on the lower level of Brookfield Place at 30 Yonge St
2020 - The Bank of Montreal was founded in 1817 as the Montreal Bank. Today the bank's former Ontario head office and branch at Yonge St and Front St W is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame
2020 – The Bank of Montreal was founded in 1817 as the Montreal Bank. Today the bank’s former Ontario head office and branch at Yonge St and Front St W is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame
1888 - Looking north up Yonge St from Front St with the Bank of Montreal on the left
1888 – Looking north up Yonge St from Front St with the Bank of Montreal on the left (Toronto Public Library R-1637)
1949 - An aerial view looking north up Yonge St from Front St. Notice the skylight covering the dome on the roof of the Bank of Montreal on the left and the Board of Trade Building on the right
1949 – An aerial view looking north up Yonge St from Front St. Notice the skylight covering the dome on the roof of the Bank of Montreal on the left and the Board of Trade Building on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1567, Series 577, Item 14)
1950s - Looking northwest up Yonge St from south of Front St. The tall building behind the Bank of Montreal is the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building
1950s – Looking northwest up Yonge St from south of Front St. The tall building behind the Bank of Montreal is the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 206)
1968 - Looking northwest from Yonge St, just south of Front St, towards the Bank of Montreal. Notice the bank's main entrance featured glass doors and a clock
1968 – Looking northwest from Yonge St, just south of Front St, towards the Bank of Montreal. Notice the bank’s main entrance featured glass doors and a clock (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 52, Item 4)
2020 - The Hockey Hall of Fame in the former Bank of Montreal at Yonge St and Front St W, northwest corner
2020 – The Hockey Hall of Fame in the former Bank of Montreal at Yonge St and Front St W, northwest corner
2022 - Heritage Toronto plaque crediting architects Darling & Curry for the Bank of Montreal building dated 1886
2022 – Heritage Toronto plaque crediting architects Darling & Curry for the Bank of Montreal building dated 1886
1867 - The first Bank of Montreal at the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St from 1845 until 1885. The structure was designed by architect Kivas Tully
1867 – The first Bank of Montreal at the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St from 1845 until 1885. The structure was designed by architect Kivas Tully (Toronto Public Library R-2026)
An illustration of the post office that was located on the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St W from 1839 to 1845
An illustration of the post office that was located on the northwest corner of Yonge St and Front St W from 1839 to 1845 (Toronto Public Library R-5192)
1961 - The former Hockey Hall of Fame was located just south of the Food Building at Exhibition Place from 1961 until 1992
1961 – The former Hockey Hall of Fame was located just south of the Food Building at Exhibition Place from 1961 until 1992 (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
Between 1967 and 1971 - The former Hockey Hall of Fame/Canada's Sports Hall of Fame at Exhibition Place
Between 1967 and 1971 – The former Hockey Hall of Fame/Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame at Exhibition Place (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
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