First Bank of Nova Scotia, Main Street, c 1910. Courtesy of Antigonish Heritage Museum. Restoration: Joe Muir for Aldine Fine Art (www.aldinefineart.com)
Antigonish historian Laurie Stanley-Blackwell includes the unrestored photo of the the Bank of Nova Scotia in her online description of Vanished and Changed Landscapes of Antigonish
During the 19th century, Canadian urban bank designers usually looked to Greek and Roman prototypes for imposing designs to convey solidity and stability. They felt bound to apply specific forms to specific architectural functions and therefore deliberately chose styles with appropriate symbolic content. The first Antigonish Bank of Nova Scotia obviously diverged from this practice. The plain structure had a boom-town appearance with its milled lumber facade and false front with triangular parapet concealing a gable roof.
We have also received information from the Archivist for the Bank of Nova Scotia, Andrea McCutcheon, which describes the walk-in vault in The Casket article of May 12, 1910: “The Bank of Nova Scotia has just completed extensive alterations to their building here. A large and substantial vault has been constructed, lavatory, cloakroom, etc., installed and the old desks and counters in the banking room have been replaced by beautiful new ones.”
In 1923, the Bank purchased a lot on the South side of Main St. known as the Trotter Property and built a one-storey brick and stone trimmed building, which is featured in the 1950s post card.
In the 1970s, Creighton Jewkes expanded the 5¢ to $1 store to include the previous site of the bank; women’s clothing feature in this section of the store today. The family business flourishes today under his sons, the present co-owners, Lloyd and Stephen Jewkes. They still use the walk-in bank vault.
The Bank of Nova Scotia survived the 1962 fire, which destroyed the neighbouring Ross tobacco store, O’Halloran Home bakery, and the Brigadoon restaurant. This lot is the site of ScotiaBank today. Established in 1855, J & J Taylor became Toronto and Canada’s preeminent safe-making company, devoted to constructing the “perfect fire and thief-resisting safe.” The name plate and the vault itself also escaped the 1962 fire, attesting to the company’s claim. The Royal Bank in Antigonish was robbed in 1933—RBC archivists pose this as their first armed robbery on record. Perhaps this is further testament to J & J Taylor’s “thief-resisting” claim for the impenetrable Bank of Nova Scotia?