BMO Financial Group Celebrates 190th Anniversary



    Canada's First Bank: a history of firsts for customers, employees and
    communities

    TORONTO and MONTREAL, Nov. 2 /CNW/ - BMO Financial Group is celebrating
its 190th anniversary 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
$30 billion.
    Since its founding, BMO has played a significant role in projects key to
the growth of Canada, including the construction of the first 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.
    "From funding the fur trade and the first railroad construction, to
providing financial services for millions of Canadians and businesses, BMO has
remained focused on serving its customers who, in turn, have built this great
country," said Bill Downe, President and Chief Executive Officer, BMO
Financial Group.
    "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. We 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, we set our 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," added Mr.
Downe.
    "Today, as we mark our 190th anniversary, our employees across the globe
share a passion for looking at banking through our customers' eyes. We want to
give our customers' confidence in their own future by helping them make the
right choices."

    
    Other notable firsts from Canada's first bank include:

    1870         -  First Canadian bank to open an international branch
                    - London, England
    1957         -  First bank in Canada to appoint two women assistant
                    managers
    1962         -  Opened an office in Tokyo - first Canadian bank to open
                    an office in Japan
    1967         -  Appointed first female director of a Canadian chartered
                    bank
    1975 - 1980  -  First Canadian financial institution to go "on line",
                    connecting all of its branches on a real-time basis to a
                    central computer
    1980         -  A leader in computerized technology, BMO installed the
                    first on-line Automated Banking Machines
    1984         -  First Canadian bank to acquire a U.S. subsidiary - Harris
    1987         -  First bank in Canada to break the pillars between
                    brokerages and banks with the acquisition of Nesbitt
                    Thomson, a predecessor for BMO Capital Markets
    1988         -  First bank in Canada with a series of personal banking
                    plans
    1993         -  The Bank's pioneering efforts also extend to training -
                    committed $50 million to develop BMO Financial Institute
                    for Learning
    1992         -  Founding Sponsor of the AIR MILES Reward Miles Program -
                    first major bank in North America to start rewarding its
                    customers for their personal banking
    1994         -  First Canadian bank listed on New York Stock Exchange
    1994         -  Became the first non-U.S. company to win the high-profile
                    Catalyst Award, given to companies that show progress in
                    promoting women
    1996         -  The first Canadian bank to offer full-service banking
                    across North America on the Internet
    1996         -  First Canadian bank to receive a licence for a
                    full-service branch in Beijing
    1997         -  First bank in North America to introduce on-line mortgage
                    adjudication
    1997         -  First Canadian organization to win the Optimas Award for
                    its HR endeavors
    2002         -  First Canadian bank to participate as a marketmaker in
                    China's foreign exchange market
    2003         -  BMO received approval from the China Securities
                    Regulatory Commission to acquire an interest in Fullgoal
                    Fund Management Company Ltd., positioning BMO as the
                    first foreign company to acquire an interest in an
                    established fund management firm in China.
    2004         -  First Canadian bank to be granted derivatives licence in
                    China
    2005         -  One of the first Canadian companies to be listed on the
                    new Dow Jones Sustainability North American Index
    2006         -  The first Canadian bank to open an Investment Banking
                    Representative office in China
    2007         -  BMO InvestorLine launched MyLink and became the first on-
                    line brokerage in Canada to offer a service that sends
                    personalized messages directly to individual investors
                    that are customized based on each investors' holdings,
                    helping them to keep on top of their portfolio
    2007         -  BMO launched the most comprehensive debit card rewards
                    program for customers in Canada. BMO's personal banking
                    customers can collect AIR MILES reward miles whenever and
                    wherever they make purchases using their BMO Bank of
                    Montreal debit card.
    

    As BMO continues to expand and renovate its branch network, the Bank will
mark its 190th anniversary with an event today at its main branch in Montreal.
"The branch is one of the most notable buildings in the country and holds a
special place in both the city's architectural heritage and Canada's history,"
said Jacques Menard, President, BMO Financial Group, Quebec. "More than bricks
and mortar, this building is an enormous source of pride for all BMO employees
across Canada."

    Photo available: BMO Bank of Montreal's Main Branch in Montreal, located
    at 119 Saint Jacques Street

    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 $359 billion as at July 31, 2007, and more than 35,000 employees, BMO
provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment
banking products and solutions. BMO Financial Group serves clients across
Canada through its Canadian retail arm, BMO Bank of Montreal, and through its
wealth management firms BMO Nesbitt Burns, BMO InvestorLine and BMO Harris
Private Banking. BMO Capital Markets, our North American investment and
corporate banking division, provides a full suite of financial products and
services to our North American and international clients. BMO also serves
personal and commercial clients in the United States through Chicago-based
Harris, an integrated financial services organization that provides more than
one million personal and business clients with banking, lending, investing,
financial planning, trust administration, portfolio management, family office
and wealth transfer services.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: Photos accompanying this release are available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/





For further information:

For further information: For Media Relations Enquiries: Paul Gammal,
Toronto, paul.gammal@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996; Ron Monet, Montreal,
ronald.monet@bmo.com, (514) 877-1873; Laurie Grant, Vancouver,
laurie.grant@bmo.com, (604) 665-7596


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