Tour of Main Streets
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Bank of Commerce Building 38

  
Community Markham
Year Constructed:  1895
Address: 91 Main Street North
The Old Curiosity Tea Shop

This building was built in 1895 to house the Bank of Commerce (Before it became the Imperial Bank of Commerce.) It was a tall structure, designed to show the stability of the bank. The first floor was the banking floor, with the managers office in the front window, and the tellerís cage in the center of the south wall. Inside you can still see the tin-type ceiling, the old electric lights which were added later, and the chimney where the stove pipe would have connected from the pot belly stove in the back by the vault. (The vault now holds the washrooms for the Tea Shop.) The second floor was the apartment for the bank manager and his wife, and the top floor was for the tellers, who were all single men.
 

Contextual Significance
It is interesting to note that the Manager and his wife would live on the second floor and the tellers would live on the third floor. This was to show respect and the security of the bank to the community. This is during a time when many were skeptical about putting their money in a bank and may show concern if they met one of the tellers hanging around the local hotel or pool hall. The Bank Manager could control the comings and goings of his tellers if they lived in the apartments above. By the way, they were all men, and they were single. Women were not thought of as being stable enough to handle vast sums of money, and the tellers were not paid enough to support a family. However, if a teller were promoted to be a manager, then it was expected that he would marry soon, because a bank manager should be a pillar of the community, and his wife was expected to be a part of the social scene. Times and attitudes have certainly, and rightfully changed.  

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