Enduring heritage. Buildings and construction ideas that stand the test of time. A novel idea at a time when Salmon Arm is experiencing a construction boom.

A few of our downtown buildings are bucking the trend. They have stood the test of time. One in particular is the building on the southwest corner of Alexander and Hudson.

Established in 1878 in Hamilton, Ontario, the Bank of Hamilton was in expansion mode when it opened the first branch in Salmon Arm in 1906. Administration was keeping an eye on its human resources. They knew that John Cousins Booth was in the area and had successfully opened another branch in Kamloops. He agreed to move to Salmon Arm. Booth happily opened the community’s first financial institution and held the position of manager, but had to retire for health reasons at the end of the year.

The community’s first bank was a simple structure located on Hudson Street just slightly west of Alexander. It is an understatement to say that the venture was successful. There was no competition and soon a new building was in order.

Luckily a local firm, Gibbard and Boutwell, had a good reputation. Its construction crew had built the government wharf in 1907, Jack McGuire’s commodious new home on Lyman Hill, several other homes and cottages, and a few launches for the recreational crowd. The jet setters of Salmon Arm loved to travel by water.

The firm won the contract to build the two-storey, wood frame, bevel clad bank. The contractors moved the “old” bank south on Alexander and broke ground for construction on the corner of Alexander and Hudson. The prominent corner lot emphasized the importance the bank had in the community and its diagonal entry welcomed all.

The second floor of the building took shape with a spacious residential suite and offices rented by dentists, doctors, and the Government agent.

Within one year, the competition, the Bank of Commerce, had opened a branch on the same street between the Montebello Hotel and Jack McGuire’s old cottage on the corner.

When the Bank of Hamilton merged with the Bank of Commerce in 1923, its manager, Frank Pearson, moved up the street to the Commerce location taking the Hamilton’s substantial client accounts with him. Shortly afterwards, the Hamilton’s first floor was remodeled to accommodate the offices of the District Municipality and the Provincial Public Works Department. The space was renovated into a Post Office in 1932. When the Post Office moved into the brick building on the corner of McLeod and Hudson, the space was once more available. The Cariboo Meat Market took up residency in 1943 and eventually the bank’s vault was demolished with much effort in 1950.

Today, Victorian Impressions occupies the site of the Bank of Hamilton and Salmon Arm’s second bank, the old bank of Commerce, is occupied by another retailer down the street, Wearabouts. It was the Hamilton, however, that was the inspiration for one of the nine business dioramas in the Montebello Museum at R.J. Haney Heritage Village.

Historic connections continued to be made at R.J. Haney Heritage Village when Cory Kalke, current owner of the “Hamilton” building, came in to make a donation last winter. He should have looked familiar. He told staff that his daytime job was working on the “new” bank at Haney Village.

Join R.J. Haney Heritage Village and the Mall at Piccadilly in a community celebration of heritage that stands the test of time the week of February 19th to the 24th .