Two men reading

Branch Snapshot: Wabush, Labrador

The other day, I overheard the archivists talking about featuring a “Labrador branch,” which immediately made my ears perk up. Who better to write about Labradors than the resident barkivist? It wasn’t long before the archivists informed me that they were referring to the region, rather than the breed. Still, I was intrigued and so, after a quick geography lesson, I started digging up the history of the Wabush branch, one of the bank’s most easterly Canadian branches.

In June 1961, the first bank in the small community of Wabush, Labrador, arrived by railcar from Northern Quebec. The 42-foot trailer would act as a temporary BMO branch to help customers and the community make real financial progress until permanent premises could be built less than a year later. In an issue of the bank’s Staff Magazine, the trailer branch was described as “centrally located” with “a good view” of the rolling mountains. In my opinion, the ample space around the lot would have also been ideal for an afternoon game of fetch with a canine companion.

At the time of the staff’s arrival, the trailer’s furnace had not yet been installed and so, by the heat of a Coleman lamp, they worked tirelessly to prepare the branch, which was originally constructed as a mobile home, for opening day. In the span of five days, they converted a bedroom into a manager’s office and the living room into a public banking space, fully equipped with a Mosler-Taylor safe, typewriter, and electric adding machine. Owing to their hard work, the branch opening ran smoothly, and it was not long before lines of customers regularly reached 100-feet from the trailer.

Image: Photograph of temporary trailer branch in Wabush, Labrador, Staff Magazine, August 1961.