Photo: Alloway Arch at The Forks.
Founded in partnership by Henry Thomson Champion and William Forbes Alloway (founder of The Winnipeg Foundation), the Alloway and Champion Bank was at one time the largest private bank in Western Canada. Its location at 362 Main Street was known as the “bank with the golden doors.”
Following Champion’s death in 1916, Alloway sold the bank in 1919 (made public in 1923) to the Canadian Bank of Commerce and remained president until his passing in 1930. The Canadian Bank of Commerce operated for only a few more years before vacating the building.
In 1974, the development of the multi-million-dollar Winnipeg Square project required the clearing of buildings in the area including the Alloway and Champion Bank. To preserve the bank’s history, the City of Winnipeg, Heritage Winnipeg, and The Winnipeg Foundation had the building façade removed and stored. Intended to be removed intact, the façade was damaged during demolition and the more than 100 marble shards were included in the city’s fragment collection and stored for future use.
The Winnipeg Foundation took ownership of the shards in 1998 and ultimately used them for the creation of the Alloway Arch at The Forks between Israel Asper Way and the Via Rail train station. The installation pays homage to Alloway’s initial $100,000 endowment creating The Winnipeg Foundation.
The Arch appears alongside the Widow’s Mite Fountain, a tribute to the three gold coins gifted by an anonymous donor which solidified the premise of The Foundation: it’s not the size of the gift, but the act of giving that matters. The official opening ceremony of the Arch and Fountain, officiated by Her Honour Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon, was attended by approximately 200 Winnipeg Foundation guests and staff on Sept. 29, 2015.