CANADIAN BANK OF COMMERCE BUILDING
C. I. B. C.
1907 Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Union Bank of Canada Building
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (1907)
Innisfree Prairie Bank of Commerce
Prairie Bank of Commerce
Imperial Bank of Commerce
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Canadian Bank of Commerce Building is an early twentieth century, two-storey wood building situated on a double corner lot on Innisfree's main street. Built in the Neo-Classical style, the bank features a rounded pediment above the front entrance, fluted pilasters crowned by Ionic capitals, a plain frieze and a pedimented gable containing an ox-eye window.
The heritage value of the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building lies in its association with the early establishment of financial institutions in Alberta's rural areas. It also possesses heritage value for its fine embodiment of the "Prairie Type" of Neo-Classical architecture commonly used for rural banks in western Canada.
In 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway (C.Nor.R) completed work on its line from Edmonton to Lloydminster. Numerous sidings had been established along the track to service the railway and its workers. One of these sidings, Delnorte, developed into a modest, but prosperous, mixed farming community that also provided services to the surrounding agricultural hinterland. Local lore has it that in 1905, Sir Edmund Walker, general manager of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, toured the Delnorte area and noted the similarities between the landscape of nearby Birch Lake and that of Innisfree, his family retreat beside Ontario's Lake Simcoe. Walker reputedly agreed to provide the settlement with a branch bank in exchange for the townsfolk renaming their community after his summer place. Perhaps as a result, Delnorte became Innisfree and, in 1906, the first Canadian Bank of Commerce branch was established in the community in temporary premises. The following year, the branch relocated to the impressive Neo-Classical bank building that it would occupy for the next nine decades. The founding of the branch bank at Innisfree mirrored the establishment of early financial institutions in other rural communities throughout the province. Banking in western Canada during the first decade of the twentieth century was both highly speculative and highly competitive; financial institutions built banks in promising settlements like Innisfree in the hopes of establishing a regional monopoly. These village banks become essential institutions in rural Alberta, integral parts of the growing agricultural economy of the province after the turn of the century. The bank at Innisfree is one of the earliest village banks still standing in Alberta.
Built between 1906 and 1907, the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building is a fine example of Neo-Classical bank architecture in western Canada. Neo-Classicism was a favoured style for Canadian bank buildings. Typically rendered in stone or brick, the style conveyed a sense of solidity, permanency, and strength. Like larger, urban banks throughout Canada, the bank in Innisfree also embodied the Neo-Classical style and its associated virtues, but it did so through wood, imparting this building - and others like it across the Prairies - with a distinctively western Canadian feel. The bank was built according to one of three "Prairie Type" designs for pre-fabricated branch banks created by the renowned Toronto architectural firm, Darling and Pearson. The building materials were sent from B.C. Mills and assembled into an elegant composition featuring fluted pilasters, a plain frieze with an ox-eye window, and a rounded, broken pediment above the front entrance. The pre-fabricated wood construction of this and other western Canadian banks allowed for rapid building and relatively low costs - essential considerations in the competitive, speculative financial environment of the early twentieth century. In spite of its economic, pre-fabricated design, the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building in Innisfree, like other village banks, was one of the most sophisticated structures in the early community and has remained a prominent local landmark.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2032)
The character-defining elements of the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building include such features as:
- form, mass, and style;
- low-pitched gable roof with flagpole and chimney;
- pedimented gable-end featuring an ox-eye window;
- clapboard siding and pre-fabricated panel exterior walls;
- fluted pilasters topped by Ionic capitals;
- decorative entabulature with cornice supported by modillions, plain frieze and architrave;
- transomed, double-doored front entryway flanked by columns and topped by a broken round arch pediment;
- fenestration pattern and original single-hung windows;
- original vault door;
- original interior finishes, including oak floor on second floor.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Bank or Stock Exchange
Architect / Designer
Darling and Pearson
British Columbia Mills, Timber and Trading Company (prefabricated by BC Mills, then shipped to Innisfree)
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 2032)
Cross-Reference to Collection