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125 - 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/03/22

The Bank of Nova Scotia Provincial Historic Resource, Calgary (date unknown); Provincial Archives of Alberta, P.4391
North elevation
The Bank of Nova Scotia Provincial Historic Resource (March 2006); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2006
North elevation
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Other Name(s)

Bank of Nova Scotia Building
"The Bank"

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/03/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Bank of Nova Scotia building is a one-storey steel frame, brick and sandstone masonry structure designed largely in the Modern Classical style, and located on two lots and a small portion of a third along the historic Stephen Avenue mall in downtown Calgary. The facade is delineated by four pilasters. The rectangular window bays and front door are adorned with elaborate carving and bronze balconets.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Bank of Nova Scotia building lies in its architectural significance as the first building in Alberta to introduce Canadian sculptural themes into a classical design, as well as in its association with its renowned Canadian architect, John M. Lyle. Further importance can be seen in the building's contribution to the historic Stephen Avenue streetscape.

Built in 1930, the Bank of Nova Scotia building is an excellent example of the kind of architectural eclecticism that was popular in banks of the period. Designed to convey a sense of solidity and security, this bank building is impressive in the proportions and symmetry of its flattened classical facade. This rational plan is characteristic of architect John M. Lyle's Beaux-Arts classicism, and yet the building pushes the limits of that style in many of its decorative elements. Of primary significance is the program of low relief sculptural panels adorning the main facade. Designed by Lyle, these panels depict such western Canadian themes as agriculture, commerce, and ranching. The incorporation of such imagery into a traditionally classical building was groundbreaking, and the Bank of Nova Scotia building remains an outstanding example of such a sculptural program in Alberta. The traditional interpretation of a bank as a classical temple has here been reconciled by Lyle with a modern emphasis on linearity, its decoration and interior materials moving decidedly toward the streamlined Art Deco style.

Born in Belfast in 1875, the esteemed architect John M. Lyle trained at both Yale and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris before settling in Canada. His major Canadian projects include several works as the chief architect for the Bank of Nova Scotia, and as a contributor to the design of Union Station in Toronto. He is regarded not only as one of Canada's premier Beaux Arts architects, but also as one of the originators of the Modern Classical style.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 141)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Bank of Nova Scotia building include such features as:
- rectangular form and massing;
- Indiana limestone, granite base;
- sculpted panels relief elements on the facade depicting western Canadian agricultural, commercial, and ranching themes;
- entablature with the inscription "The Bank of Nova Scotia" in frieze;
- fluted pilasters topped with ornate capitals;
- bronze balconets;
- exterior wall sconces;
- vaulted and flat ceilings with octagonal coffering;
- 1930 glass skylight;
- granite flooring;
- marble wainscoting;
- plaster walls with pilaster elements.




Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


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

John M. Lyle



Additional Information

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. 141)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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