R.I.P. Montreal Exchange

The old Montreal Stock Exchange

Yesterday marked an end of an era of sorts. In what some are calling a “combination” and others just a plain “acquisition“, it was announced yesterday that the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Bourse de Montreal (Montreal Exchange) will become the mighty TMX, which apparently isn’t the name of a George Lucas film. This essentially means that the Montreal Exchange, which has existed in some shape or form since 1832, ceases to exist as an institution.

The importance of the Montreal Exchange had flagged in recent decades. With Quebec language laws in force, most companies, preferring to do their business in English, moved their stock trading to Toronto. It had become mainly a futures exchange, a specialization based upon an agreement made in 1999 with Toronto, Vancouver and Alberta exchanges. That now seems like merely a first move in the exchange’s gradual shift towards losing its autonomy, a move not everybody seems too happy about.

The day-to-day business in Montreal likely will not change much (interestingly it will handle carbon trading), but the move highlights the Montreal Exchange’s fall from eminence. Pre-WWII, the MX (then the Montreal Stock Exchange) was more lucrative than the TSX. In 1910, more than twice the amount was being traded in Montreal as in Toronto. It is also the oldest stock exchange in Canada. The story goes that as of 1832, there existed an Exchange Coffee House. It was essentially just a hotel with some informal trading. However, it kept growing and in 1874, the exchange became chartered.

In 1883, the Montreal Exchange moved to the Commodities Exchange on Rue du St-Sacrement. In 1904, it finally moved into its own building, a couple of blocks away on Rue St-Francois-Xavier. The old Montreal Stock Exchange building is still an impressive sight, and now houses the Centaur Theatre. Architect George B. Post also designed the New York Stock Exchange Building.

The Tour de la Bourse towering over Square-Victoria station. So big I couldn't fit it all in the picture.

In 1964, the exchange moved to the Tour de la Bourse. An exercise in the International Style, it has that Westmount Square, monolithic feel to it. Originally (because it was planned in the sixties in Montreal), the complex was going to be comprised of three buildings that would make an interior triangle, a plan that was eventually scrapped. The building may not look that pretty these days, but it will continue to act as a reminder of the MSX’s one-time importance.

6 comments

  1. Once the 3 tower plan was scrapped, Place Victoria as the complex is officially called, was re-configured and to have included a a second tower along University where the hotel is now located – the trading floor box in the center of the scheme.

    Tour de la Bourse is an incredible example of Pier Luigi Nervi’s work and the international style in general. I would have much prefered to second tower to have been built as the hotel/office mixed use combo than the current hotel design that I find looks like something that belongs next to an airport.

  2. I was in the Westmount square building just last week for the launch of Sotheby’s International Realty’s Westmount square office, and although the building no longer holds the MX, it still boasts a great deal of economic and political power. One of the notable guests at the launch was former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. from 1981 to 1989, Allan Gotlieb, a strong voice behind the North American Union. The building looks great in my opinion, a shining piece of modernism in Montreal, and Sotheby’s had done a neat neon-blue lighting job in the lobby which, from the outside, gave the impression that the building was about to lift off.

  3. I have no choice but to agree… completely with Mr. Erlichman.

  4. Whitey L., Whitey L., why does that ring a bell?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *