The Kemptville branch of the CIBC will be having a special day on May 15. In fact, the staff intend to make it a special week, with a variety of activities and a chance for customers to enter a draw for a Grand Prize. On Wednesday, May 17, they will be holding a Community BBQ, complete with a live band. This will be a free BBQ, but they will be asking for donations, all of which will be going to the North Grenville Historical Society.
The reason for all this fun? The bank is celebrating 150 years along with Canada this year, having been established in Toronto on May 15, 1867 as the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Although CIBC only came to Kemptville in 1969, when they leased the old Post Office site on Clothier Street, they have managed to locate on very historically important sites. The building on Clothier Street had served not only as the Post Office for fifty years, but was also the original offices of the old Kemptville Advance, and the first supermarket in North Grenville, operated by Leabourne Elliot.
After renting that building for ten years, CIBC moved to its present location on the corner of Prescott Street and Reuben. This is yet another important site in Kemptville’s history that hides its past well. The first school house in the area was opened here in 1822 and run by Reuben Chase for over 20 years. The land was donated by Asa Clothier, who retained ownership until the school closed. The site was occupied by the Holmes family for many years, and one of the Holmes daughters married Samuel Martin, a photographer.
Before the Great Fire of 1872, Martin’s Photography occupied the site, and was rebuilt afterwards, an early pioneer of the business. An even more modern studio was opened here by D. Edson Pelton, in 1895. After his death in 1901, the business was continued by his brother. The fine brick building to the left of the Post Office in the picture, was built by Dr. David Wallace as a residence, and was later the home and office of Dr. G. D. Gordon, who came to Kemptville in 1919. The parking lot for the CIBC was the site of Dr. Gordon’s garage, a stable for his team of horses, and storage sheds.
As they mark 150 years in business nationally, the local branch of CIBC can also be proud of the historic roots they have tapped into in our community.