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.
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.