Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Golden, BC

Have you ever thought about the number of times in a month you go to the bank? With cash machines all over the place, banking by phone and my personal favorite, by computer we seldom have to actually face a teller anymore. But it is still an option that we have that they didn’t have in the early days of banking in Golden.

In fact, in the early days all banking had to be done out of town and then usually with the aid of the CPR.

After more than a dozen year in 1899, F.W. Jones, the secretary of the Columbia River Lumber Company, made an arrangement with the Imperial Bank to open a branch in Golden. But as part of the arrangement the two major employers of the area; the Columbia River and Palliser Lumber Companies had to agree to move all of their banking business to Golden.

Temporary headquarters were set up in the Alexander Block (where Jack Wong’s office and Napa sit now) and a call was put out for a bank manager. J.S. Gibb, who had been an accountant and assistant manager for the Imperial Bank of Canada in Vancouver, was appointed manager.

Mr. and Mrs. Gibb and family, arrived in Golden, on August 18, 1899, and Mr. Gibb immediately set about finding staff for the banks September 5, opening. The staff consisted of J.S. Gibb, manager; J.Pinkham,
accountant; and A. Walker. It wasn’t long before the bank made a more permanent move to a small two storey building on the north side of the bridge.

Within two years the bank had done so well that a new building was called for. The contract for the new bank was given to F. Kernaghan of Revelstoke, who contracted out different parts of the building, but only to Revelstoke residents, which didn’t set too well with the people of Golden.

F.W. MacGregor arrived to start the framing September 6, 1901, followed closely by E. Baridge who came to install the coal furnace. A. E. Fromey, the vault builder arrived shortly after, just ahead of the 16,000 tons of steel for the vault. The vault doors were from Goldie & McCullough of Galt, Ont., otherwise all of the vault work was carried out by Mr. Fromey. The vault consisted of an aluminum-finished burglar proof safe, with three steel compartments. The door of the vault was controlled by triple time locks. (Sounds pretty sophisticated even by today’s standard.)

The building itself was 30 feet by 30 feet with a second floor used as the manager’s residence. The offices had very high ceilings and was fitted with fine oak counters. The interior was painted and papered by Mr. Ramsay, of the firm McKensie and Ramsay, with Mr. Gibb, the bank manager, picking out the paper.

The building served the local area until 1957, when once again the banking business demanded a larger building.

Consultants for the design if the new building included the architectural department of the Imperial Bank of Canada; Thorson and Thorson, consulting mechanical engineers; and Simpson and McGregor, electrical engineers. The plans and specifications were prepared by the architects Williams and Fairbanks.

The firm of Burnham and Son, of Banff, were given specifications from which to work. A total floor space of 2,400 feet would include a banking area, manager’s office, two vaults, a staff lounge, furnace room and bathrooms. The interior was finished in stone and Mahogany.

Four hundred people attended the open house at the bank on March 30, 1957 when the building was officially turned over to then bank manager Walter Bell.

This building has seen many renovations over the years but has continued to grow according to the needs of the community.

Colleen Palumbo
Photo: Golden Museum and Archives P1070 – Imperial Bank which was located where Mount 7 Taxi stand is in 2022.