Toronto, May 15, 2017 – Few realize that CIBC has been around as long as Canada itself. Both celebrate 150 years in 2017 and to commemorate the anniversary CIBC has launched their #StandForCanada campaign. The campaign celebrates CIBC’s shared history with Canada by starting a conversation about appreciation, discovery, and pride for this great country. Last week, a special event was held in downtown Toronto’s CIBC Commerce Court (North) building where guests enjoyed a rare chance to see and interact with historic Canadian artifacts from the bank’s history. On display were valuable CIBC banknotes from the turn of the century, antique CIBC staff uniforms and furniture, and historic innovations in banking over the last century. We even had a chance to pick up an 1850-era musket known as a blunderbuss. The precursor to today’s shotgun, this blunderbuss was used by the Hamilton-based Gore Bank as protection when carrying money parcels from one office to another, particularly by stagecoach. The only opportunity to ever legally hold a gun in a bank had to be captured on camera of course.
Attendees marvelled at the architectural beauty of the CIBC Commerce Court building itself. Canada has few truly historic landmarks that date this far back. It was designed by Pearson and Darling Architects of Toronto, with the help of U.S. design firm York and Sawyer. Construction on the skyscraper began during the Great Depression in 1921 and finished in 1931, where it stood as the tallest building in the British Commonwealth between 1931-1962. With its stunning vaulted gold-coffered ceiling and classic Art-Deco style, the North Tower was as impressive then as it is today. The ceiling was inspired by the Baths of Caracalla, an opulent bath house in Ancient Rome surrounded by the crests of banks acquired by CIBC between 1870 and 1928.
The event ended with a tour of the 32nd floor, outdoor, 360-degree observation deck. It’s been closed to the public for half a century and offers a panoramic view of Toronto and Lake Ontario. Surrounding the 32nd floor are 16 giant sculpted heads with long flowing beards. They were sculpted to represent the characteristics of the bank – courage, observation, foresight, and enterprise – not Toronto’s hipsters. It’s a common mistake. It’s a shame that observation deck has been closed to regular public tours for decades.
Thanks for inviting us to join you on your big day CIBC. We all thoroughly enjoyed a taste of Canadian history.