Beach Memories: Banks have played a big role in the community life of the Beach

This photo shows the TD Bank & Trust on the southwest corner of Queen Street East and Lee Avenue in 1995. The building is now home to the Coles book store. Photo: Toronto Public Library Archives.


When one thinks of the Beach area, you think of parks, the Boardwalk, the water, the sand, recreation, cuisine, and more.

But, dear readers, there is an aspect to the Beach you might not think about at all – and that is the banks in the Beach. They are an historic part of our area, and without them there would be no Beach as we know it.

These “Beach Banks” are responsible for the financial, commercial and personal wellbeing of so many in our community. They have been in our area for about 120 years and here is a short history about them.

There have been many banks in the Beach, and some of their original names and locations have changed. The dominant location for these banks has been in the Kew Beach section of Queen Street East. Lee Avenue and Queen Street East has been a prime location over the years. They have also been at the Beech Avenue and Queen Street East area of Balmy Beach.

Some of these banks’ names familiar. Names such as Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, Toronto-Dominion, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), the National Bank are well known. Other names maybe not as much, but there was a Metropolitan Bank and a Home Bank of Canada, and the Imperial Bank of Canada with locations locally at one time.

Here are some of the locations, or former locations, of banks along Queen Street East in the Beach:

The Imperial Bank of Canada (later CIBC) at 702 Queen St. E. at Kingston Road, built in 1924.

Bank of Toronto at 1958 Queen St. E.

The Home Bank of Canada was located at 1963 Queen St. E., at Kenilworth Avenue.

The Dominion Bank was at 2167 Queen St. E. at Lee Avenue, built in 1926.

The Metropolitan Bank was 2046 Queen St. E. at Lee Avenue. It was built in 1906 and amalgamated with the Bank of Nova Scotia in 1914.

The Bank of Montreal at 2234 Queen St. E. at Beach Avenue, built in 1924.

The Royal Bank at 2171 Queen St. E., at Lee Avenue built in 1950.

Some of the local banks are in historic buildings, or the buildings they were once in are historic buildings that are now home to other businesses.

Now I’m curious, dear readers, if you can tell me some of the Beach businesses that are now operating in buildings that used to be banks? Name me the bank that used to be at the location and the business that is there now. You can send your answers to me care of Beach Metro Community News by sending an email to or by mail to my attention at Beach Metro Community News, 2196 Gerrard St. E., Toronto, ON, M4E 2C7.

While leading a group on a recent historic walk along Queen Street East in the Beach, we approached the Scotiabank just east of Hambly Avenue. We were invited into the bank by manager Adele Rozak who has been with the bank for 37 years, many of them as manager of the branch in the Beach. She has volunteered with her staff for the past several years to speak to seniors at the City of Toronto’s Kew Beach Seniors’ Program, answering questions about finances or banking.

Adele gave us a brief history of the Bank of Nova Scotia, which predates Confederation. The Bank of Nova Scotia was given Royal Assent on March 30, 1832, making it one of the oldest banks in Canada.
The bank has been involved in many aspects of finance and commerce across Canada. In November of 1897, the Bank of Nova Scotia opened its first branch in Toronto – at 40-46 King St. W. From this point on it started building its general offices in Toronto, and spread to other parts of Ontario at a rapid pace.

There were different parts of Toronto where banks were needed, and Kew Beach was no exception. At Queen Street East and Lee Avenue, on the northwest corner, was a small bank called the Metropolitan Bank prior to 1911. The Bank of Nova Scotia with the Metropolitan Bank in 1924.

There are many Scotiabank locations now in East Toronto, but the Beach branch has almost 100 years of history in the community and serving its residents.

That is just one historic account of banks in the Beach. There are many other accounts that can be told, but that’s for another column.

Historically, and financially, yours.

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