BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group

November 02, 2011 12:51 ET

BMO Marks the Beginning of its 195th Year

MONTREAL, QUEBEC and TORONTO, ONTARIO and CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--(Marketwire - Nov. 2, 2011) -

Editors Note: There are four photos associated with this press release.

BMO Financial Group will mark the start of its 195th year in operation on November 3. It was on this day in 1817 when nine Montreal businessmen invested $150,000 to found the Bank. Originally known as Montreal Bank, the Bank opened its doors for the first time on St. Paul Street in Montreal.

As Canada's first bank, BMO has been first with many innovations over the years to better serve customers, and the pace is accelerating. In 1817, the Bank's capital was $150,000. Today, the market value of the bank is more than $36 billion.

"Since 1817, BMO has been a company deeply rooted in the economic advancement of North America. We believe banks have a direct impact on economic growth and a unique responsibility to support it," said Bill Downe, president and chief executive officer, BMO Financial Group. "BMO was founded on a simple idea: Helping customers succeed. The ultimate measure of our success is our customers' success – our desire to serve them better only grows. From funding the fur trade and the first railway construction, to providing financial services for millions of people and businesses across North America, for nearly two centuries, BMO has served customers with a focus on local communities and lasting relationships. As we mark this milestone in our long history, our employees still share one goal: Making Money Make Sense, and to see our customers make their financial decisions with confidence."

BMO has played a significant role in projects key to the growth of North America, including the construction of canals, telegraphs and railways, most notably Canadian Pacific's transcontinental line. The Bank was also responsible for the first Canadian currency, which it issued from its founding until the Bank of Canada was created in 1935. To facilitate trade between Canada and the rest of the world, the Bank appointed agents in London, England, and New York within a year of its founding. It established a permanent agency in New York's bustling financial district in 1859, the year a railway between Montreal and New York was completed.

In 1861, BMO set its sights on the U.S. Midwest, establishing a permanent agency in Chicago. One of BMO's early competitors was N.W. Harris and Co., which became part of BMO Financial Group a century later. Today, BMO Harris Bank has approximately 700 branches and approximately 1,350 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. This July, BMO acquired Marshall & Ilsley Bank of Milwaukee – itself serving customers since 1847. BMO Harris Bank has committed to making an additional $5 billion in credit available to small and medium-sized businesses over the next two years.

BMO has paid dividends on an uninterrupted basis since 1829 – one of the longest dividend-paying records in North America.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $477 billion as at July 31, 2011, and more than 47,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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