As part of the ’40 Years, 40 Stories’ series, we’re sharing the story of Riverside’s long-standing Bank of Montreal branch, which has been serving the community for over 100 years, and the latest adventures of the historic building at 711 Queen E.
For 103 years, 711 Queen St. E was home to the Bank of Montreal’s Queen/Broadview branch, serving the Riverside community through its financial services and community efforts.
Did you know BMO was Canada’s first bank? Born and bred in Canada, it opened for business in 1817. It provided Canada’s first widely recognized and used currency.
The following photos show the historic building at 711 Queen Street East from it’s opening in 1913 when Queen Street was made of cobblestones:
Fast forward to the 1970s:
…and the late 1980s to 2013s:
Celebrating 100+ Years of Community-Building
On Saturday, June 1st, 2013, BMO Bank of Montreal invited customers and members of the community to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its Queen & Broadview branch.
“BMO proudly opened its Queen & Broadview branch in 1913 in the middle of what is now one of Toronto’s oldest commercial hubs,” said Andrew Auerbach, Senior Vice President, Greater Toronto Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “One hundred years later, BMO continues to serve the financial needs of Toronto, which now boasts more than 2.7 million residents and is home to a diverse range of Fortune 500 companies,” (read the full official news release).
The 100th celebration continued as BMO celebrated 100 years in Riverside in style with refreshments, games, giveaways, photo opportunities, and formal speeches as part of Riverside’s annual street festival at the time, called ‘Sounds Like the Riverside’.
“I’d like to congratulate BMO on 100 years in our community,” said City Councillor Paula Fletcher. “Queen St. East has a rich heritage of culture and commerce, thanks to long-standing community members like BMO who contribute to the vibrancy of this neighbourhood.”
Over the years, BMO has contributed to the vibrancy of Riverside in various ways. In a literal sense, they helped light up the bridge as a Bronze sponsor of the Riverside Gateway Bridge Lighting project in 2015.
They have also been known to host initiatives such as skate nights at Jimmie Simpson for families, free financial consultations, and workshops for small business owners. BMO has also been a sponsor of the Eats & Beats Streetfest and Riverdale ArtWalk, supporting local artists and the Riverside neighbourhood.
At the 2018 Eats & Beats Streetfest, BMO proudly celebrated 105 years in Riverside with a corner full of activities, gifts and prizes for local kids.
In 2016, after 104 years in the building at 711 Queen Street East, BMO made a big move their new home at 744 Queen Street East on May 4th, 2017 (the force was surely with them!). Once again, they celebrated their then 104 years in business by inviting the community into their space. They also changed their name a bit to reflect their new location as the BMO Queen & Saulter Branch
Their new and current location features accessible entrance with automatic doors, multiple ATM machines and modern open concept offices.
What happened with 711 Queen Street East?
The newest owner of the building where BMO operated for over a century is Dave, an entrepreneur and investor based in Toronto. When he first purchased the building in 2017, he was open to unique ideas for the space, recognizing its incredible, central location in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood, right on the corner of Queen and Broadview.
That’s how the beloved business venture Tertulia Espresso Bar came about to serve the community with coffee and baked goods in 2018:
While unfortunately Tertulia succumbed to the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, closing in early 2021, new things are surely on the way for this historic property.
The building facade is currently under restoration which will be completed fall 2021, thanks to support from the City of Toronto’s Commercial and Industrial Facade Improvement Grant. The new facade will retain aspects of its Victorian roots while modernizing to fit the demands and standards of the 21st century, and to accommodate its new purposes.
The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.