Old Montreal Stock Exchange Building – The first exchange in Canada began in 1832 as an informal stock exchange at the Exchange Coffee House, at the corner of St. Paul and St. Pierre Streets in Montreal. Some prominent businessmen, including brewer John Molson and Peter McGill started to look for investors to raise money to build a railroad. People were able to buy shares in the venture, and the railroad opened four years later as the
Champlain and St. Lawrence, the first railroad in Canada. In 1874, the Quebec government granted a charter formally constituting the Montreal Stock Exchange, a name that was used until 1982 when it became the Montreal Exchange. Lorn MacDougall became its first Chairman, a position he held until poor health forced him to retire in 1883.
In 1883, the Montreal Exchange moved to the Commodities Exchange on Rue du St-Sacrement. In 1904, it finally moved into its own building on Rue St-Francois-Xavier. The land on which the building stands was bought from the Sulpicians in 1903. The contract of sale included a clause, excluding any right of view on the gardens of the seminary located at the rear of the property. To satisfy the demands of the Sulpicians, high walls were raised in the back of the building.
The design of the building was awarded to the American architect George B. Post, who also designed the New York Stock Exchange Building. Montreal architects Edward and William Maxwell were entrusted with the actual construction of the building. The central portion of the U-shaped building contained a board room. The portico with its six Corinthian columns reminds of a Greek temple. The lower wings on either side were dedicated for the public, the members’ coat room, and committee room. The function of the building is carved on the frieze, and reads “Montreal Stock Exchange – Incorporated MDCCCLXIV  – Building erected MCMIII ”.
Before the second World War, the Montreal Stock Exchange was the most important exchange in Canada and more lucrative than the TSX. The Montreal Stock Exchange continued its activities on St-Francois-Xavier until October 1965, when it moved to the Tour de la Bourse on Victoria Square. In May 2008, the merger of the Montreal Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange, the TMX Group Inc. was created. With Quebec language laws in force, most companies, preferring to do their business in English, moved their stock trading to Toronto.
In 1966, the Montreal Exchange sold the building to an organization that wanted to convert it to a cultural center. Extensive modifications were done in 1967-68. Two levels were added on the left side wing and an additional stage was added to the right wing. After the cultural center group went bankrupt in 1968, the Centaur Theater Company leased the building. In 1974 the Centaur purchased the building and spent $1.3 million in renovations. It re-opened in 1975 with two theatres, the Centaur 1 with 250 seats, and the Centaur 2. with 220 seats. It is Montreal’s largest English-language only theatre company, providing productions by Montreal, Canadian and International playwrights.
Source: McGill / Spacing Montreal / TMX / Ville de Montréal / Centaur Theatre Co.