Photo Credit: Bob Hare
422 RICHARDS St, Vancouver BC
450-492 W Hastings
Built in 1889-1891, the Bank of British Columbia Building is valued as an ornate and sophisticated example of the Victorian Italianate style, which was used to convey an image of prosperity and permanence for commercial buildings during the late Victorian era. This is a particularly elegant example of the style, exhibiting a varied articulation of window cases and rusticated ground floor pilasters. The bank was considered to be burglar-proof due to its elaborate vaults, and featured fine interior appointments, such as a Minton tile floor and glass dividing walls between the banking hall offices. The Bank of British Columbia is a significant surviving commission by architect Thomas Charles Sorby (1836-1924), and is notable for its builder, George C. Mesher (1860-1938).
By the end of the century the bank was unable to meet increased competition, and in 1901 it merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. This building subsequently housed a number of branch banks, including the Bank of Toronto that was located in the one-storey addition to the east.
The building’s prominent location contributed to the establishment of the Victory Square area as a district of important commercial activity, and as the city’s primary financial and corporate district. The Bank of British Columbia was one of the first commercial buildings to be built outside of Gastown, the initial commercial area of Vancouver.
From 1952-1963, Vancouver’s first Aboriginal Friendship Centre rented space in the building. Today it is well used with a variety of commercial businesses, coffee shops and food, and offices and shared workspace.
Canada's Historic Places