The Royal Bank Building, situated on Main Street in Moncton, was conceptualized by J.C. Dumaresq and constructed between 1898 and 1899 by James Reid & Son. The edifice features pink sandstone sourced from a nearby Sackville quarry, with some original tool marks still visible.
The building showcases a range of architectural elements, including broad Roman arch openings, paired window arrangements, columns, and pilasters, all reflecting its intended design style. The bank’s main entrance is positioned at the corner, a typical feature of the merchant bank style from that period, which aimed to capitalize on customer traffic from two intersecting streets instead of just one. In 1929, Ambrose Wheeler extended the building’s north side, maintaining the key aspects of the original design.
The building holds significance for Moncton’s financial development. Established in 1864 as the Merchants Bank of Halifax, the Royal Bank of Canada was initially a private, unchartered commercial bank created by a group of Maritime trade merchants to support their daily business endeavors. It wasn’t until 1869, after Confederation, that the bank obtained its official federal charter and became a public company, starting with a capital of $300,000. The bank subsequently expanded rapidly throughout the Maritime region, opening branches in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. The Moncton branch continued to operate until 1986.
In addition to housing prominent financial tenants, the upper floors of the Royal Bank Building have been occupied by notable local businesses, such as former Moncton Mayor E.A. Reilly’s law firm and R.W. Hewson’s firm, the latter remaining at the location for nearly 65 years. Organizations like the Masons and the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows have also used the upper floors.
The City of Moncton designated the Royal Bank Building as a Heritage Property in 1996 under the Heritage Preservation By-Law.