220 Dundas Street, Huron & Erie

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220, Dundas Huron_ Erie in the 1960s

Dundas Street, 220, Huron _Erie Canada Trust



The Huron & Erie

By the 1860s London and its local financial services were maturing. Building societies, which had been popular during the 1840s and 1850s, were replaced by savings and loan companies. Like building societies, savings and loan companies were the brainchildren of successful merchants, wholesalers and factory owners. The importance of savings and loan companies in the development of London and the surrounding suburbs cannot be overstated. They brought millions of pounds of British capital into the city that was then loaned out to farmers, stock raisers and home builders as mortgages. By 1914, London was the second largest financial centre in Canada, primarily because of the number and size of its loan companies.

The first sizeable loan and savings company in London was the Huron and Erie, which is the forerunner of today's Canada Trust. Huron and Erie Loan and Savings was formed in 1864 by the city's nineteenth-century wholesalers. Retail and wholesale was a flourishing trade in the city core up until just after the end of World War II. Adam Hope, who together with John Birrell owned the largest of the earliest wholesale partnerships, became Huron & Erie's first president.

By 1900, the Huron and Erie boasted assets of over 6.5 million dollars. The company constructed its head office on the south-eastern side of Richmond and Queen's Avenue and operated from that address from 1872 until 1931, redoing its façade in the 1890s. In 1931, Huron and Erie moved to its nine-storey Art Deco building on the north-eastern intersection of Clarence and Dundas Streets.

The upper floors of the new Huron and Erie building immediately attracted legal firms, insurance companies (including London Life), and investment dealers (such as D.B. Weldon's Midland Securities). The 1931 Art Deco building replaced the Odd fellows' Hall, built in Second Empire style. The magnificent 1931 Art Deco building would remain the highest structure in the city until 1968. Victor Blackwell, a partner in the firm of Watt and Blackwell, was the architect. The Art Deco architectural style was suitable for this structure because it is a style that displays power and overt patriotism. Carved into the Huron and Erie building are detailed panels depicting Canadians working in various parts of the country— from the Maritime shipbuilder to the farmer of the vast agricultural lands and the hunter in the forests. Inside the building, the walls are still covered in the original travertine marble and the splendid elevator doors can still be admired. The height of the building justified the presence of a revolving spotlight at its top which, until the sixties, surveyed the night skies over London. Furthermore, until the sixties, the north-eastern corner of Dundas and Clarence streets attracted political activism and was a hub for political activists' speeches and distribution of propagandistic material.


220 Dundas Street
London, Ontario