Canadian Bank of Commerce National Historic Site of Canada
Canadian Bank of Commerce
Banque de commerce canadienne
Links and documents
1906/01/01 to 1907/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Canadian Bank of Commerce is a two-storey, wood-frame bank building, designed in a restrained neo-classical style. Its formal elegance stands out amongst the more vernacular commercial buildings in downtown Watson, Saskatchewan. Since July 1980, it has housed the Watson and District Heritage Museum. The formal recognition consists of the building on its legal property at the time of designation.
The Canadian Bank of Commerce was designated a national historic site in 1976 because of its prefabrication technology and the entrepreneurial imagination of the bank. The heritage value of this site resides in its historical associations with the expansion of eastern banks into the Canadian west as illustrated by the building’s physical characteristics.
The former Canadian Bank of Commerce (CBC) bank at Watson, Saskatchewan is the largest surviving example of the prefabricated bank buildings erected by the CBC in railway towns across the prairies. Designed by Toronto bank architects Darling and Pearson, and prefabricated in Vancouver by British Columbia Mills, Timber and Trading using a patented sectional wall system, the bank structures were shipped by railway to newly established towns and assembled within days. The neo-classical styling of these wood-frame buildings mimicked the stone and brick bank buildings of larger urban centres at a minimum cost, and projected the same air of respectability and confidence. By erecting these buildings quickly and early, the bank hoped to monopolize local trade. The use of three standard designs created by Darling and Pearson allowed the bank to convey a consistent and immediate impression of stability, at a minimum investment. Erected in 1906-07 using the largest of the three designs, the Watson Bank is the most intact example. While other banks also made use of prefab technology, it was the CBC that most fully exploited the potential of the prefab banks and made them enduring features of the western Canadian landscape.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1976.
Key elements which relate to the heritage value include:
- its location in downtown Watson;
- its siting on an urban lot with minimal landscaping, close to the sidewalk;
- its wood, prefabricated construction, wood cladding and wooden decorative elements;
- its two-storey rectangular massing with front-gable roof;
- its neo-classical style, evident in its three-bay facade with classical decorative treatment, particularly the pedimented front gable with bulls-eye window and heavy dentilled cornice, fluted pilasters, broken pediment over main door, and pale colour scheme;
- surviving elements of its original interior plan of the banking facility with living facilities on the second floor.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Bank or Stock Exchange
Architect / Designer
Frank Darling, Darling and Pearson
British Columbia Mills, Timber, & Trading Company, Vancouver
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection