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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Architectural vandalism: the banks (part 2)

Part 1 showed some examples of Toronto buildings from the golden age of Canadian bank architecture. Here are some buildings from the west coast which serve as a reminder that we once took pride in building beautiful structures even for everyday purposes like banking.

Victoria, BC is particularly blessed. Here are a few examples from just a few blocks of Government St, starting with this former Bank of Montreal located on the site of old Fort Victoria. What a stunning building with its rusticated stonework and its romanesque crenellations and towers. Like many old bank buildings, this one has found new life as a pub, the Irish Times:

Look at the hand-crafted detail lavished on this structure:

Further down Government St we find this former Royal Bank, built in 1905 and now a book store:

This building, called simply "the Bank Building", was built in 1886. The elaborate cornices and brackets are cast iron. It too is now a pub called The Bard & Banker:

Further north on Douglas Street, a few of the old buildings soldier on in their original capacities as financial institutions:

and this amazingly well-preserved neo-classical branch of the Bank of Montreal:

and right across the street a beautiful Beaux Arts building still in use as a Bank of Nova Scotia:

Vancouver, sadly, seems to have torn down most of its old banks in the mad rush to build downtown condo towers, but a few buildings survive. Here's a great neo-classical bank near the old CP train station that has been resurrected as a high-end jewellery store:

Exploring these old buildings is like touring the ruins of Pompeii and reflecting on a long-ago time when people took pride in constructing the important buildings in their communities. It makes one sad to be reminded of how much has been lost.

Next time: the sad decline of bank architecture.

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