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Banks in Kinmount

December 8, 2023

Royal LePage and Kawartha Credit Union, Kinmount

By Guy Scott

The arrival of a bank or financial institution in your town was a sign of affluence and prosperity. Sometime before 1914, Kinmount received its first bank when the Sterling Bank opened a branch in town. The branch was located in the Mansfield Building. The Sterling Bank was a mid-sized bank headquartered in Toronto, chartered in 1905 which boasted approximately 80 branches. The Kinmount branch was likely a one-man operation, and one of the last managers was Archie Williamson. In 1924, the Sterling Bank was acquired by the Standard Bank of Canada and in 1928 it was bought out by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The Kinmount Branch disappeared, likely in the early days of the Great Depression (1930s).

Kinmount was bank-less for several decades. In the 1960s, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) re-opened a branch in Kinmount. This sub-branch of Coboconk was located in the building on lot 5, east of Main Street, besides Christine’s Hairstyling. (Later the Kinmount Pharmacy). The branch was open three days per week. Despite its limited hours, the CIBC branch was a welcome addition to the village and its staff were more than accommodating. Don McKay, one of the managers, even made ‘house calls’ to some of the businesses! Kinmount residents were content with their financial institution until changing times altered the situation.

The recession of the late 1980s hurt the big banks’ financial lines, and they began to close or merge many of their smaller sub-branches. The CIBC branch in Kirkfield was robbed one day, and security became a big concern. The smaller branches were very vulnerable. The ‘big banks’ believed that fewer locations was better, and the customer could ‘come to them’ instead of vice versa. In 1993, the Kinmount branch was closed for December (dubbed the ‘bank robbing season by management!) and the writing was on the wall. The branch was closed within a year.

For several years, Kinmount was without a financial institution, and it was a bad time for local businesses. ATM or cash machines were not common in rural areas and there were few places where cheques could be cashed. A group of concerned residents and businessmen tried to get another bank to move into the town, but to no avail. Then in early 2000, an approach was made to the Mariposa Credit Union. Ontario’s newest Credit Union had been set up in Little Britain to replace the closed CIBC in that village.

The move to a community credit union had proved successful, and it was looking to expand with its first sub-branch. It required a lot of salesmanship, but the Mariposa Credit Union decided to open a branch in Kinmount if enough local support could be found. Meetings were set up, but support was hard to find. Many residents were content to drive out of town to get to the bank. Others were still reluctant to change their allegiance. Still others were suspicious of the term ‘credit union.’ But the committee persevered and eventually enough pledges were acquired and Kinmount received a branch of the Mariposa Credit Union. After a great deal of pleading, the Credit Union opened a 24-hour cash machine and the economy of the village got another big boost. In 2006, the Mariposa Credit Union merged with much larger Kawartha Credit Union and continued to operate the Kinmount branch. Over the years, the credit union has grown in both numbers and volume. Residents from other communities began to use the credit union and the locals have stayed loyal. The presence of a financial institution in the village has been a boost to the community.

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