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Towns & Industry (1860-1880)

The Dominion Bank Teller's Cage

Bank Teller's Cage

Bank Teller's Wicket from the Dominion Bank's
Blewett Block location, Market Square corner, Napanee

Prior to 1905, Lennox & Addington County had only two banks, both in Napanee. The first bank in Napanee opened October 5th 1860, when Richard Cartwright, among others, founded the Napanee Savings Bank Society. His grandfather, also Richard Cartwright, had been a prominent Kingston based merchant who acquired the grist mill at the Napanee falls in 1792. The Cartwright family had long been involved in acquiring, renting, and mortgaging land in the Napanee area. DISCOVER MOREReadmore Arrow

At the Napanee Savings Bank Society, any amount between 25 and $200 was accepted and depositors were asked to give a week's notice before withdrawing more than $5. The Commercial Bank was its depository. Cartwright was a founding director of the Commercial Bank of Canada in 1863, and became president in 1864. The Commercial Bank opened a Napanee office June 4th. This bank operated out of a small frame building on John Street near the Paisley House. Cartwright's career suffered a severe setback in 1867 with the failure of the Commercial Bank. When a rival, the Bank of Upper Canada failed, it started a run on the Commercial Bank, creating a cash-flow crisis that forced it to close its doors.

The Merchants Bank of Canada (later the Bank of Montreal) bought the premises, hired the existing staff, and served the public from that location until 1870, when J.J Watson of Adolphustown constructed a new brick building to serve as a bank on Bridge Street. After a decade, this bank relocated to Dundas Street, opposite the Campbell House, to better serve the downtown. The bank was moved again in 1911, to the corner of John and Dundas.

The second bank to open a branch in Napanee was the Bank of British North America, operating out of the Miller Block on John Street. After the Bank of British North America decided to withdraw from Napanee, its facilities were taken over by The Dominion Bank in January 1878, where it remained until new facilities were prepared in the Blewett block at the Market Square corner. The brass wickets illustrated are part of a bank teller's cage from the Dominion Bank at its Blewett Block location. Note the stylized bars, and the raised lettering. Customers with the new bank could receive a Dominion Bank Savings Department Memo Book to record memorandums and keep track of cash accounts. In 1897, Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year, this Bank was the victim of a robbery which made headlines in the Toronto newspapers and drew members of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to town. Later, this bank located to the corner of Dundas and John Streets in downtown Napanee.

The third bank to establish a location in Napanee was the Crown Bank of Canada, which opened an office on the south side of Dundas Street in the Albert Block in 1906. Upon amalgamating with the Northern Bank in 1908, the name was changed to The Northern Crown Bank (later the Royal Bank).

Despite the growth of the commercial district westward, John and Dundas Streets became the banking hub of Napanee, anchored by three banks.

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