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About RBC > History > Virtual Exhibits

Virtual Exhibits

Take a tour of Royal Bank by viewing historical video footage and photos.

You are on: Historical Footage

In the Beginning


Truly quick to the frontier! Royal Bank establishes a pattern of leadership.

The Late 1800s


Strategically expanding within and beyond our borders.

The Early 1930s


Making it through turbulent times.

The 1960s


The birth of a sales culture.

The 1970s – 1980s


Changing attitudes drive diversity to the forefront.

Late 1980s – Early 1990s

Becoming more than a bank.

A Look Back at our Leaders

A consistent vision for always earning the right to be our clients' first choice.

 

You are on: Photo Gallery

Collapse Our Story Through Our Buildings

Collapse Banking Artifacts

The tools of our trade in the early days, such as fortress-like teller's 'cages' and ledger-posting machines.

 

Collapse Our People

Collapse Advertising

Our first advertising department was established in 1919. Ads appeared only in print until the late 1960s when we took to the airwaves with the message: "Will that be cash or Chargex?"

 
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Our Story Through our Buildings

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1869 – Halifax, Nova Scotia

1869 – Halifax, Nova Scotia
Our building on Bedford Row, Halifax, served as our first head office and Halifax branch from 1864 – 1879. We were known as the Merchants Bank from 1864 – June 21, 1869; the Merchants' Bank of Halifax from June 22, 1869 – January 1, 1901; and The Royal Bank of Canada starting on January 2, 1901.

1899 – Bennett, British Columbia

1899 – Bennett, British Columbia
When the bank opened at Lake Bennett, the country was in the grip of winter. The staff rented a shack, the floor of which had to be propped up to support the safe. The sign at the bottom left reads ‘dogs’ indicating that our branch would offer accommodation to large dogs employed for transportation through the Humber-Yukon Transport Co.

1905 – Rossland, British Columbia

1905 – Rossland, British Columbia
The discovery of gold in Southern British Columbia in the late 1890s led Royal Bank to establish 10 branches in the province between 1897 and 1899.

1909 – Gowganda, Ontario

1909 – Gowganda, Ontario
The Gowganda, Ontario, branch was typical of banking on the frontier. Quickly established, often modestly equipped, and staffed by new recruits, these branches gave Royal Bank a presence in communities with growth potential.

1910 – Rexton, New Brunswick

1910 – Rexton, New Brunswick
News of the coming of the Caraquet Railway led to the opening of a number of branches in New Brunswick’s hinterland. Rexton was a typical frontier branch, with upstairs living quarters for the manager.

1920 – Paris, France

1920 – Paris, France
Our initial presence in France was to handle the banking services of the thousands of Canadians involved in Europe after the First World War.

1920 – Santos, Brazil

1920 – Santos, Brazil
The immediate success of our first Brazilian branch (Rio de Janeiro, 1919) inspired the opening of additional branches in Santos and Recife to capture the coffee and cocoa trade.

1920 – Rue St. Jacques, Montreal

1920 – Rue St. Jacques, Montreal
147 rue St. Jacques (renamed 221 rue St. Jacques) served as our head office and Montreal main branch from 1908 – 1928. The building was originally dominated by statues representing agriculture, transportation, fisheries and industry.

1921 – Fort Smith, N.W.T.

1921 – Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
This ‘tent office’ in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, typified the makeshift branches erected at the head of the railway construction to win the confidence of railway workers and newly arrived immigrants.

1925 – Chinese Department, East End Vancouver, B.C.

1925 – Chinese Department, East End Vancouver, British Columbia
We were the first Canadian bank to have two branches in the same city west of Toronto with the opening of Vancouver, and Vancouver – East End (later Main & Hastings) branches, in 1897 and 1898.

1952 – Kemano, British Columbia

1952 – Kemano, British Columbia
A Quonset hut served as a combination office/residence for our Kemano branch staff.

1961 – New York Agency

1961 – New York Agency
Our banking presence in New York was secured as early as 1899, with the help and advice of Governor Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt who was a relative of Royal Bank's president Thomas Kenny. Our offices were located at 68 William Street, pictured here in 1961.

1818 – Quebec Bank Charter

1837 – Quebec Bank Charter
Charter from Canada's second oldest chartered bank, the Quebec Bank, founded in 1818. In 1837, the Quebec Bank secured an extension of its charter for one year - this was the last banking measure passed by the Legislature of Lower Canada.

Late 1800s – Voting box

Circa 1838 – Voting box
The Quebec Bank (which Royal Bank purchased in 1917) used this voting box in their board room. Bank directors voted by dropping ballot balls in separate "Yea" or "Nay" drawers.

1890s – Household savings bank

1890s – Household savings bank
This lockable cast iron household savings bank was a replica of the Traders Bank of Canada's Head Office at Yonge & Colborne Streets in Toronto. Royal Bank acquired the Traders Bank in 1912.

1911 – Warming the branch

1911 – Warming the branch
Once the cold weather set in, our branch in Macklin, Saskatchewan (then a branch of Union Bank of Canada) had to be warmed before the daily conduct of business; a job usually performed by the junior employee who arrived early to 'fire-up' the stove to permit the thawing of the ink wells.

1926 – Teller’s cage

1926 – Teller’s cage
The teller’s cage was the centre of all transactions with clients. The fortress-like security of the cage served a twofold purpose: protection against hold-ups and a visible signal to clients that their money was in safe hands.

1958 – Ledger-posting machines

1958 – Ledger-posting machines
Our Current Account Department, Toronto Branch, operated eight ‘modern’ ledger- posting machines, seen in this picture. The department boasted ‘16,000 postings a day.’

1960 – Electronic robot

1960 – Electronic robot
A precursor to…e-mail: The ‘Electronic Robot.’ This ‘new’ communications system gave wings to messages between Head Office and a number of major branches.

1895 – Elmira, Ontario

1895 – Elmira, Ontario

1914 – Arthur, Ontario

1914 – Arthur, Ontario

1924 – Winnipeg, Manitoba

1924 – Winnipeg, Manitoba

1928 – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

1928 – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

1928 – Victoria, British Columbia

1928 – Victoria, British Columbia

1949 – Grand Prairie, Alberta

1949 – Grand Prairie, Alberta

1942 – Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

1942 – Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

1958 – RBC Dominion Securities, Toronto, Ontario

1958 – RBC Dominion Securities, Toronto, Ontario

1961 – St. John’s, Antigua

1961 – St. John’s, Antigua

1898 – Bowling Team, Toronto, Ontario

1898 – Bowling Team, Toronto, Ontario

1937 – Bowling Team, Calgary, Alberta

1937 – Bowling Team, Calgary, Alberta

1921 – Football Team, Winnipeg, Manitoba

1921 – Football Team, Winnipeg, Manitoba

1920 – Hockey Team, Winnipeg, Manitoba

1920 – Hockey Team, Winnipeg, Manitoba

1942 – Softball Team, Nassau, Bahamas

1942 – Softball Team, Nassau, Bahamas

1921 – Attracting new immigrants

1921 – Attracting new immigrants

1931 – Making Royal Bank your family bank

1931 – Making Royal Bank your family bank

1932 – A Cornerstone of the Community

1932 – A Cornerstone of the Community

1933 – Through Storm and Calm

1933 – Through Storm and Calm

1956 – Accepting business at Dominion Securities

1956 – Accepting business at Dominion Securities

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