Customer service remains strong as BMO celebrates 150 years in Smiths Falls

Smiths Falls BMO staff celebrate with cake.
BMO Smiths Falls celebrates 150 years in business. The bank has been at the same location in town all these decades, opening in April 1874. Staff enjoyed cake and coffee on Monday, April 22. They include: (left to right) Tara Tedford, CSR; Cheryl Stevenson, personal banker; Charles Leitch, branch manager; Jenny Lackey, CSR; Judy Chapesky, financial planner, and Julie Sehl, regional vice president. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: April 24, 2024

Bank has been ‘a safe depository for surplus cash’ over the years


It was in April 1874 that the BMO branch opened its doors in Smiths Falls for the first time, and 150 years later, it’s still a mainstay in the town’s downtown core. 

On Tuesday, April 23, staff gathered to celebrate the milestone with cake and coffee and some reminiscing. 

Smiths Falls Coun. Steve Robinson was on hand to show the town’s support with a certificate of congratulations. 

“On behalf of the mayor and council we’d like to congratulate the Bank of Montreal on 150 years of service to our community,” he said. 

Branch manager Charles Leitch said he’s proud of his team at the Smiths Falls branch, and has been in Smiths Falls for just under a year. 

Tara Tedford has been a customer service representative for 35 years (June 1) and she’s seen a lot of changes. 

“I came before there were bank machines and there was a staff of 20-some people. But the biggest change has been the automation.”

People still want to be face-to-face with a customer service rep, she said. 

Julie Sehl is the regional vice president, who was also on hand for the celebration. 

She’s been with BMO for about 20 years.  

“I’ve been in the industry for a lot of years and have seen a lot of changes – a lot of them are really good,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of people moving more to digital platforms which makes it easier for them to bank from home and they don’t have to come in. It’s very different even from when I was growing up. You had to go to the bank.”

Sehl said it’s been a really nice shift. “We are definitely focused on advice and guidance – really truly, how do we help out clients. How do we make real financial progress, is our guideline. That’s important to me and it’s important to my staff because we want to make sure we’re helping our customers.”

Sehl said she was “very excited” to be part of the 150th celebrations. 

Old newspaper clippings depicting milestone anniversaries, and some equipment used in the past were on display. 


The Bank of Montreal opened in Smiths Falls at a time when the community was still a small village of a few hundred people – eight years before the incorporation of the Town of Smiths Falls. It was the first bank to be opened in town. 

According to an article in the Record News, April 23, 1942, when the branch was celebrating 60 years, it stated that “through the years, the bank has proved a safe depository for surplus cash and a readily available source of credit for sound purposes.”

Some of the earlier branch managers (prior to 1964) included: A. L. Thomas, who was succeeded by R. Frasher in 1877; A.P. Tregent from 1879 to 1884, followed by F. A. Bethune, 1884 to 1903. 

Subsequent managers were listed as H. B. Wilson, 1903-25; G. C. Dewar, 1925-288; B. N. Sylvester, 1928-34; G. C. Chubb, 1934040; L. R. Coles, 1940-50; H. C. Constable, 1950-54, and R. L. Fisher, 1954-57. 

W. Ronald Richardson was manager from 1957 to 1964. His successor was Henry J. Anderson, who came from Finch. 

In its heyday in Smiths Falls, the local branch had about 25 people employed. Now, they have six staff members. 

Off note, it was in the 1970s, that the BMO coined the phrase, “Let’s Talk.” It was an invitation to customers to discuss the bank’s products and services – mortgages, loans, travel services, and more. The campaign reflected the bank’s customer-centric philosophy and its focus on finding new ways to address the needs, wants, and goals of Bank of Montreal customers. The radio advertising campaign featured the voice of Leslie Nielsen, a popular actor and comedian of the day.

Other notable slogans were “Doing more for you,” in 1985; “We’re paying attention,” in 1992, and “It is possible,’ two years later.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News