Rattenbury's Nanaimo: The Architect, His Wife, His Other Wife, and Her Lover

Robert Turner

The Vault: Merchant's Bank of Canada


Built 1912, designed by architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury

Built in 1912, the Merchant's Bank is Nanaimo's sole example of the eclectic, elegant Free Renaissance style, inspired by Italian churches and palaces, and popular in North America from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The exterior was faced with a combination of a banded brick base and quoining that framed the edges and structural openings. A later coat of stucco obscured these features but some of the facade details, including the prominent cornices typical of this style, are still discernible. The elaborately detailed, round-arched windows, featuring radiating mullions and brick keystones, angled corner entry and ornate cast plaster ceiling are also substantially intact.

The Merchant's Bank is significant for its association with Francis Mawson Rattenbury, British Columbia's premier architect of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rattenbury also designed the Nanaimo and Nelson Court Houses, the provincial Parliament Buildings and numerous other residential and institutional buildings.

Merchant's Bank of Canada building is a two-story, Free Renaissance style building

wife started affair with chauffeur, George Percy Stoner

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