The pick-and-pan prospectors were tough, resourceful and amazingly businesslike. Because there was real gold in them thar hills, they very quickly demanded some way of keeping their nuggets safe – and a dependable method of turning their gold into cash. Enter the banks.
Quick to this new frontier was the institution that was to become Royal Bank. One hundred years ago, it established branches in the mining country around Rossland and Nelson.
It often wasn't feasible for more than one bank to set up shop, so the competition to be first was fierce. Tipped off that one of its competitors was about to launch a branch in the townsite of Alberni, a Royal banker was immediately dispatched. Arriving by steamer on the west coast of Vancouver Island, he rented space on the settlement's main street, and persuaded a local undertaker to hand-letter the bank's name on a cloth banner.
Promptly at ten the next morning, he opened for business, using children's exercise books bought at the general store as passbooks. By the end of the day, and after a sociable evening in the local hotel, he had corralled practically all the businesses in town. When the rival bankers arrived by stagecoach the next morning, they took one look at the apparently well-established Royal Bank and left in a cloud of dust.