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History of the Bank of Nova Scotia 1832-1900
The Bank Commences Business

AS has been set forth in the foregoing pages, the Bank of Nova Scotia was duly incorporated on March 30th, 1832, and a copy of the minutes of the first meeting of Shareholders on May 10th, appears on page 40. The members of the house of assembly, who opposed the incorporation have the credit of introducing into Canada the double liability of Shareholders; the liability on the part of the Shareholders to pay—in event of failure and after the ordinary resources have been liquidated—an amount equal to the amount of stock held by them. On May 11th, the Board of Directors met and elected Mr. William Lawson, President, and appointed a committee “to ascertain a suitable building for a Bank.” The latter task appears to have been a difficult one, as we find the following advertisement published in the several Halifax newspapers of May 18th, 1832:

Wanted,—A suitable building for the Bank of Nova Scotia. Any person having one in a central part of the town, which can be let for that purpose, will make immediate application to William Lawson, Esquire.

On May 21st, the subject of notes for circulation was considered by the Board, and the following denominations were decided on: £1.10s., £2, £2.10s., £5 and £10 and Mr. S. N. Binney, one of the Directors, was authorized to “proceed at his earliest convenience after the first of June to Boston and New York, by way of St. John, New Brunswick, to obtain all the information necessary relative to the banking business at those several places.” Mr. Binney afterwards accepted the management af the Halifax Branch of the Bank of British North America. Mr. James Forman was appointed Cashier on the 24th May, and a few days later was sent to the Bank of New Brunswick, St. John, which had been established twelve years earlier, on a knowledge-seeking errand. And it is to be supposed that the early book-keeping system of the Bank, like its Incorporation scheme, was originally borrowed from the Bank of New Brunswick.

On the 31st of May the two “Western Rooms” in Dalhousie College were hired by the Board at a rent of £50 per annum. On July 3rd a committee of three was appointed to see about re-housing the Bank, in consequence of the Lieutenant-Governor’s apparently high-handed action in granting Dalhousie College to the Board of Health to be used as a Cholera Hospital, and a week later the Bank removed to Mr. John Romans’ stone building on Granville street. This building stood on the ground now occupied by the stores of Messrs. A. Hobrecker and Smith Bros., and was burned in the year 1859.

On August 1st the following notice was published in the Royal Gazette:


As required by the Act of Incorporation, Notice is hereby given that the sum of Fifty Thousand Pounds has been actually paid in on account of the subscriptions to the stock of the Bank of Nova Scotia, and that the Bank will be opened for business as soon as the necessary arrangements are completed.

By order of the President and Directors,

James Forman, Cashier.
Halifax, 1st August, 1832.

The Directors were evidently in a hurry to commence business as on August 4th we find them resolving to “discount to the extent of the Province paper now on hand, in order to dispose of the same," without waiting for the preparation of the banking premises. Notes for discount were to be left with the Cashier on Mondays and Thursdays before one o’clock.

The Bank appears to have actually commenced business on August 10th, 1832.

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