Early Banking in Kingston and the Story of the "Pretended" Bank of Upper Canada (1810-1822)
After several failed attempts to secure a charter for a bank in Kingston, in 1819 merchants from the area proceeded to establish the Bank of Upper Canada as a private concern. Much like a typical bank of the day, the financial institution issued notes, provided exchange services and accepted deposits. The bank experienced instant success with its shares fully subscribed and the minimum capital required to commence operations paid up within months. After only a couple of years, gaps discovered in the private Bank of Upper Canada’s accounting practices forced it to permanently suspend operations. Through court proceedings, the bank was declared illegal and was forced to liquidate its assets. The bank was given the moniker “pretended bank” in the court documents as a way to distinguish it from the legitimate Bank of Upper Canada based in York (now Toronto). Kingston would have to wait another ten years before finally receiving a charter to establish the Commercial Bank of the Midland District (1831), which later became the Commercial Bank of Canada (1856), the second largest bank in Upper Canada and Canada West until its failure in 1863.