The Bank of Brantford
The five-year run of the city's very own bank.
Scott Egan, October 19, 2022 // Brantford, OntarioA $1 bill called a remainder by the Bank of Brantford. Stock photo.
Yeah, Brantford had its own bank, with its own currency. I happened upon part of this story a long time ago in 1990. I was visiting my grandmother in Stoney Creek and she was showing us (my siblings and me) all this old money she had. I remember sitting on the plush white carpet in the upstairs bedroom as she showed us bill after bill. American Confederate $100 bills, a $100 bill from the state of Mississippi, a $20 bill from Texas from when Texas was a separate country... Then she showed us a $4 bill from the Bank of Brantford. It broke my eight-year-old brain. The Bank of Brantford? I lived in Brantford, there was no Bank of Brantford. Also, a $4 bill? She wouldn't let me touch the bill (I was eight – I probably had snot or cookies on my hands), but she showed us the other side of the bill and it was blank. I didn't understand. It seemed fake to me. In my short life there were only two styles of money, Canadian money and Canadian Tire money. I don't remember getting a proper answer until I was much older and searched it out on my own.
A $2 bill called a remainder by the Bank of Brantford. Stock photo.
A $4 bill called a remainder by the Bank of Brantford. Stock photo.
In early Canada it was common for cities to have their own banks, but very few remain. The best examples of successful ones being The Bank of Montreal and Toronto Dominion (TD Canada Trust now-a-days). The Bank of Brantford started its life in 1857 and was housed in Kerby Block, on the George Street side. Having a capital of a million 1857 dollars, it was incorporated by an act of Parliament of the Province of Canada. Yeah, Province. This was before Canada was even a country. The bank operated just like any bank of the era having a Mr. Peter Carroll as president and a Mr. J.J. Kingsmill as the V.P. In 1859, the bank issued its own currency in ones, twos, fours and fives and they were pretty fancy-dancy. They were made by The American Banknote Company and, which I soon found out was normal at the time, had nothing printed on the back. Unfortunately for all involved, by 1862 the bank was no more. All the investors had lost everything and local merchants were left with nothing but fire starter. This isn't a rare outcome for city banks of the time and by Confederation in 1867 the country started using just one style of currency, with Canadian Tire introducing theirs in 1958. The old Bank of Brantford bills are able to be found on the collector’s market, and they aren't rare or cheap. I've been able to find some in the $300-$700 range, if you interested in buying money.
A $5 bill issued by the Bank of Brantford. Stock photo.
So, years after seeing a $4 bill from the Bank of Brantford, I ended up getting an answer to my eight-year-old self’s question. But now I’m left with an even more puzzling question: like, why did my grandmother have so much American Confederate money?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Scott Egan, best described as an extroverted hermit. Scott is an aficionado of all things old, odd and esoteric. An avid reader and collector, he’s accumulated a backlog of legends and lore that he loves to share with most anyone who will listen. A father of two, Scott lives along with his feline soulmate amongst thousands of books and hundreds of objects of the strange and unusual.