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Muckleston Family History Group

researching all references to the surnames Muckleston, Mucklestone, Muckelston and Mackleston please get in touch via the contact us page with any additional information or to correct any errors.

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A Canadian Banker

I Remember The Bank by Collis Lewis April 1967.


The Bank of Nova Scotia was, before amalgamation, a branch of the Bank of Ottawa. It is in a three-storied, well preserved substantial stone building, built in the early eighties. Its massive hardwood doors and window sashes with heavy metal fasteners provided a heavy barrier to any intruder.


High up on the roof top is a large cupola commanding a clear view of the surrounding countryside for several miles. Legend tells us that this was used in the early days as a lookout to detect the approach of bands of marauding Algonquin’s.


As competition was keen to open branch banks in the smaller villages surrounding Ottawa, sometimes a race resulted between the Union Bank of Canada and the Bank of Ottawa to locate in a certain desirable village. Planning and speed were essential.


However the opening of the Richmond branch was delayed a couple of weeks by the spring thaw making the transportation of the large steel safe impossible. It was absolutely necessary to have the safe to hold the many thousand dollars of deposits pledged on a petition circulated by prominent citizens of the district, among all its residents.


At last all was in readiness. I remember well the morning of March 29, 1905 as I strode past two large hitching posts and entered the bank to open my first bank account. Of course, I felt I was a man of considerable business experience, having sold newspapers, fire crackers, etc. As well as having ‘made hay with farmers’.


I gained the distinction of being the very first customer of the Bank of Ottawa branch in Richmond. Little did I realise this happy transaction would be the first link in a chain of events which would link my life with the bank and this old stone building.


By Christmas time I had deposited enough money to pay my tuition for a commercial course at the Ottawa Business College. I never did finish that course.


The manager of the Bank in Richmond, Mr Muckleston, told my father he would like to have me enter the bank’s service. I liked the idea and believed my ‘big business’ experience had developed the knack of dealing with people that would be helpful to me in the bank. Besides the roving life of a banker appealed to me at the age of 16. Soon I was writing my examinations at the Head Office on Wellington Street in Ottawa. Despite the distracting noise of bands playing at some ceremony across the street at Parliament Hill, I was successful.


So, on April 26, 1906, wearing long pants just purchased with the rebate allowed me by the Ottawa Business College, there I stood, shy but ambitious, perched on a platform made especially to enable me to reach the wicket as I posted and returned bank books being presented by the customers; while I dreamed of the day I would be King Pin and occupy the manager’s office.


Sure enough, after many years filled with long hours of tedious effort, interspersed with the excitement of changing scenes, personalities and incidents and lured on by a vision of fame and the ‘Pot of Gold”, I found myself back in the same old building, occupied by the bank of Nova Scotia, which by now, had absorbed the Bank of Ottawa.


I was now the manager but at the same time acted as teller and seldom had much time to ‘sit’ at the manager’s desk.


With my family, I occupied an apartment back of the banking office. My parents had lived in the same apartment at the time they were married many years before. 


Some ten years later, Tuesday July 19, 1938, while seated at my desk in my private office, transacting business with a customer, Mr. Wm. Hemphill, I experienced the most harrowing episode of my entire life. As I observed the doorknob being turned cautiously, I heard Mervyn Brown, the ledger-keeper scream and as the door burst open, I faced a heavy caliber revolver in the hands of a masked man who barked, “Hands up! This is a holdup!” I leaned back in my chair and grinned for a split second until the bandit shouted, “Do as you’re told and nobody will be hurt!” As I could then see the bullets in the chamber of the gun held under my nose, I quickly obeyed. I then saw the second masked bandit close behind holding a sawed off shotgun menacingly and beyond him the third bandit wearing heavy smoked black glasses, intimidating the teller, Bill Adam and the ledger-keeper with a large revolver. 


It took about two and a half minutes to carry out the hold-up but I could write a volume about it. About the bullets whining past my wife as she stood a few feet from the getaway car shouting that she had their number and that they’d be caught and for them to drop the money. About having a gun shoved in my ribs as I reached into my pocket for my keys.


There hadn’t been so much excitement in Richmond since 120 years before when the Duke of Richmond was bitten by a rabid fox.


For 18 years the bank leased the building from Mr. McKenna and for over 40 years from L.O.L. #151, the present owners.


Over the years many improvements have been made and recently the excellent job on the exterior has vastly improved the general appearance of the building. The addition of a well constructed vault provides necessary facilities. Owing to increased business the very attractive interior has been enlarged to accommodate the capable, pleasant staff.


Mr. Walter Reid is the present very popular bank manager. I now sit across from the chair I once eyed so covetingly; and, never having found the ‘Pot of Gold’, my requests to the manager are the usual ones.


(Mr Muckleston is likely to be Alan Jeffreys Muckleston (1873 – 1931), son of William Jeffreys Muckleston a Curate of Canada who was son of Samuel Muckleston born in Salop)