Former Bank of British North America National Historic Site of Canada
Former Bank of British North America
Ancienne banque de la British North America
College of the North Atlantic's Anna Templeton Centre
Centre Anna Templeton du Collège de l’Atlantique Nord
Links and documents
1848/01/01 to 1850/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Former Bank of British North America National Historic Site of Canada is located within the Heritage Conservation Area of St. John’s, Newfoundland. This impressive three-and-a-half-storey brick building with a mansard roof, stone façade, and Italianate features housed Newfoundland’s major banks from 1849 to 1985. Today it is occupied by the College of the North Atlantic’s Anna Templeton Centre as a learning facility. Official recognition refers to the legal limits of the property at the time of designation.
The Former Bank of British North America was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1991 because:
- its close associations to the evolution of banking in Newfoundland;
- this Italianate style recalls the evolution of banking in Newfoundland.
The heritage value of the Former Bank of British North America resides in its long-term association with banking in Newfoundland. The building’s status is reflected in its Italianate style, its substantial institutional presence in both the interior and exterior, its composition, and its site and setting.
The Former Bank of British North America was built in 1849 to plans by Halifax architect David Stirling. Constructed in the Italianate style, a style popular in Canada during this period for commercial architecture including banks, it housed Newfoundland’s first commercial bank (founded in 1835) from 1849-1857. After that, it continued to be occupied by major banking operations for more than a century: the new Commercial Bank of Newfoundland (1857-1894), the Bank of Montreal (1895-1897), then the Newfoundland Savings Bank (1897-1962) and again the Bank of Montreal (1962-1985). A mansard roof was added to the building in 1885, leaving its original exterior largely intact. The bank’s interior was destroyed by the Great Fire of St. John’s and rebuilt in 1892-1894.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1991.
Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its rectangular footprint and cube-like three-and-a-half storey massing;
- its mansard roof with dormers;
- the organization of its main façade in three equal bays, each topped by a pedimented dormer;
- its diminishing layered horizontal composition, with stringcourses, and progressively lower and less ornate levels from bottom to top;
- its Italianate style features, notably its ground floor faced with rusticated stonework and tall segmentally-arched windows decorated with lion heads, its ornate Renaissance style window surrounds with carved brackets on the second floor “piano nobile”, its smaller square third-storey windows, and prominent moulded cornice with scrolled brackets supported on carved pilasters;
- its original exterior materials including stone facing over brick walls on the ground floor façade, and brick above with finely crafted details;
- surviving 19th-century interior layout and finishes, notably its rich late Victorian furnishings and fittings of wood, plaster, panelling, tile, stained glass and pressed metal;
- the continuity of long-term access and circulation patterns;
- the bank’s sympathetic setting in the St. John’s Heritage Conservation Area.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1848/01/01 to 1985/01/01
1892/01/01 to 1894/01/01
1885/01/01 to 1885/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Post-Secondary Institution
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Bank or Stock Exchange
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection