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Bank of Montreal

511 Columbia Street, New Westminster, British Columbia, V3L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/04/05

Exterior view of the Bank of Montreal, 2004; City of New Westminster, 2004
Oblique view
Historic exterior view of the Bank of Montreal, nd; New Westminster Public Library, NWPL, 1548
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1947/01/01 to 1948/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/15

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Bank of Montreal is a one-storey plus lower level masonry International Style structure, situated on a corner lot on the north side of Columbia Street at the corner of Church Street in New Westminster's historic downtown core.

Heritage Value

The Bank of Montreal is significant as a late contribution to the distinctive built form of Columbia Street, which dates mainly from between 1898 and 1913, when New Westminster was the major centre of commerce and industry for the booming Fraser Valley area. Built 1947-48, the Bank of Montreal building is an excellent expression of the International Style, designed by the architectural firm of Sharp, Thompson, Berwick, and Pratt. George Lister Thorton Sharp (1880-1974) and Charles Joseph Thompson (1878-1961) founded the longest surviving architectural firm (1909-1990) in the history of Vancouver, known for the planning and design of the University of British Columbia. The firm was re-invigorated when it was joined in the 1930s by R.A.D. Berwick and C.E. ""Ned"" Pratt, who infused the firm with a new spirit of modernism. The Bank of Montreal, with its clean-line functionalism and severe, rational geometry, is a superior example of their work.

Additionally, the Bank of Montreal is an important representation of the economic history of New Westminster. A spur line of the Canadian Pacific Railway's transcontinental railway arrived in the city in 1886, causing the population to triple and creating a demand for services. Two years later the Bank of Montreal was established here, and continues its presence in the city to this day.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Bank of Montreal include its:
- location on a steeply sloping, prominent corner on Columbia Street, part of a grouping of commercial buildings in historic downtown New Westminster
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- form, scale and massing as expressed by its severe modernist form, one storey plus basement height, modest scale and cubic massing
- reinforced concrete construction
- International style design features including emphasis on horizontality (flat roof); unornamented neutral exterior of concrete block construction; extensive areas of glass and white metals on Columbia Street facade; and translucent glass bricks
- additional exterior elements, such as its granite base; crest in cast concrete; side awning; concrete columns on edges; board marks on wall from pouring concrete; exterior clock; extensive glazing divided at ground level
- interior elements such as its open ground level commercial space and remnants of stairs to the basement



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Bank or Stock Exchange

Architect / Designer

Sharp, Thompson, Berwick and Pratt


Armstrong and Monteith Ltd.

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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