UNION BANK BUILDING
163 - 23rd Street, Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada
UNION BANK BUILDING
Links and documents
1899/01/01 to 1899/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Union Bank of Canada Building is a two-and-a-half storey commercial building situated on two lots within the Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area. The scale of the building and its masonry construction are similar to other heritage properties within Fort Macleod's historic commercial core. The Union Bank of Canada Building is distinguished by its pressed metal mansard roof and roofline cresting.
The heritage value of the Union Bank of Canada Building lies in its significance as an early and important bank that was vital to the historic commercial life of the Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area. The Union Bank of Canada Building is also significant for its distinctive style, which embodies its historic importance as Fort Macleod's main bank for the first decade of the twentieth century.
Fort Macleod was initially established in 1874 by the North West Mounted Police as an island fort on the Oldman River. Persistent spring flooding resulted in the relocation of the North West Mounted Police barracks to a site on the south bank of the river west of the island in 1884. The community of businesses and settlers that had formed outside the fort followed the police, and the new site proved suitable for development as a service centre for the police force and the cattle industry in the southern foothills. By 1892 when the Calgary and Edmonton Railway reached the community, Fort Macleod had become large enough to be incorporated as the Town of Macleod.
As Macleod developed into the commercial center of a large ranching and farming hinterland, the community's need for financial institutions became more pressing. Early residents were first served by various itinerant bankers who traveled the southern prairies on behalf of larger banks located in Calgary. In 1897, the Union Bank of Canada opened the first major bank in Macleod. Three years later, the Union Bank moved into a new two-storey brick building built the year prior by David J. Grier, a former Northwest Mounted Police officer who had established himself as a prosperous rancher and entrepreneur. The lower space accommodated day-to-day banking operations, while the upper floor was reserved for office space and a dwelling for the manager. In 1902, a third floor mansard roof was added. The Union Bank of Canada remained Macleod's sole bank until 1911, when the Bank of Commerce opened its doors. Few banks of this vintage are extant in Alberta. The Union Bank of Canada Building embodies both the early growth of financial institutions in Macleod and the significance of banking to early Alberta communities.
The Union Bank of Canada building stands as a distinctive and prominent reminder of the town's optimism at the turn of the twentieth century. It was the first brick structure to be constructed in the downtown core and suggested a secure and solid permanence. It is a rare Alberta example of the Second Empire architectural style with its third storey mansard roof and iron cresting. The Union Bank of Canada Building symbolizes the importance of banking to a vibrant community envisioning a prosperous future as the region's major commercial centre. It is a strong contributor to the heritage character of Fort Macleod's historic commercial core.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des, 2278)
Character-defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Union Bank of Canada Building include:
- mass and form;
- three storey rectangular plan;
- brick construction;
- corbelled brick chimney;
- pressed metal mansard roof with iron cresting;
- dormers with pediments and pilasters;
- pressed metal cornice above brick frieze;
- hood moldings;
- sandstone window sills;
- angled main entrance at street corner;
- relatively small ground-floor windows suggestive of institutional banking windows.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Bank or Stock Exchange
Architect / Designer
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. 2278)
Cross-Reference to Collection