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Our History

Picture of the Place D'armes
Place d’Armes, Montreal.
Courtesy Corporate Archives, BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group has one of the richest histories of any financial institution in North America. Bank of Montreal provided Canada's first sound and plentiful currency, helped finance the transcontinental railway, and served as Canada's central bank until 1935. Today, BMO Financial Group continues as one of Canada's pre-eminent financial institutions, with a significant presence in United States and world markets.

BMO Capital Markets

BMO Capital Markets launched in June 2006, when BMO Financial Group’s Canadian, U.S. and international wholesale banking capabilities came together as one. The company’s roots date back nearly a century and include a long list of notable firms.

1912 Nesbitt Thomson
A.J. Nesbitt of Montreal and P.A. Thomson of Hamilton, Ontario establish Nesbitt Thomson, a firm that becomes a household name in Canada for its role in some of the world’s largest mining, resources, and hydroelectric power projects.

After WW2, Nesbitt Thomson expands its operations to include such diverse industry sectors as chemicals, salt, steel, ships, farm machinery, retail stores, and a transcontinental natural gas pipeline.

1976 – Burns Fry
Burns Fry is created from the merger of Burns Bros. and Denton, known for equity trading and underwriting capabilities, and Fry Mills Spence, known for strong debt trading and underwriting. These Toronto firms had been highly successful in the securities business since 1932 and 1925 respectively. The merger brings together a large capital base and a strong branch-office system.

1987 – Nesbitt Thomson acquired
Bank of Montreal acquires Nesbitt Thomson in the first of many broker/bank mergers in the Canadian financial services sector.

Picture of the Prospectus
1885 Prospectus.
Courtesy Harris Bank Archives

1994 – Nesbitt Burns
Nesbitt Thomson and Burns Fry merge to form Nesbitt Burns one of the leading investment firms in the marketplace.

1999 – Harris Nesbitt
The merger of the corporate banking arm of Harris Bank, BMO Financial Group’s Chicago-based subsidiary, and the U.S. investment banking capabilities of Nesbitt Burns, creates Harris Nesbitt. The new firm focuses on the middle market of the U.S. Midwest.

2000 – BMO Nesbitt Burns
The “BMO” brand is added to the Nesbitt Burns name in order to link the firm’s corporate identity with BMO Financial Group.

2003 – Gerard Klauer Mattison (GKM)
BMO Financial Group acquires Gerard Klauer Mattison (GKM), providing Harris Nesbitt with a U.S.-based equity research and institutional sales and trading platform. GKM was founded in 1989 in New York as a boutique equity research and investment banking firm serving the institutional marketplace.