Anyone visiting Weyburn's downtown core is sure to notice the historic CIBC building at the corner of 3rd and Souris. Its brilliant, regal features have graced our city since the foundational years of the community, and the legacy born there continues to this day. Plaques adorning the exterior face of the building hearken back to the early days, although many are unaware of the significant history they represent. Two extremely rare Weyburn Security banknotes surfacing in auction now serve as important reminders of that era, and collectors from across the nation look forward to their opportunity to own these artifacts from Weyburn's past. 


The Weyburn Security Bank, and the building that housed their head office, was purchased by CIBC in 1931. Having been granted a charter in 1910, the Weyburn Security Bank was only in business for about 20 years before its circumstantial collapse due to the downturn of Canada's economy. In that time, the bank offered essential borrowing services to local residents which allowed settlers to get their start in Saskatchewan. Approximately $75,000 in unique paper money was also printed and circulated throughout Saskatchewan during those two decades, but very few notes still exist. Jim Onstad, Managing Director and third generation stakeholder of Weyburn Security, said that most bills have been lost to history.

"At the very end, before they sold the bank, they took all the bills in from the branches and burned them all. Any time we see these bills appear nowadays, it means that somebody somewhere had one stashed away that they just held on to for all this time," explained Onstad. "Actual operations for the bank started in January of 1911, so Weyburn Security had the bills printed by an American company and distributed to all their branches ahead of that."

One surviving $20 note, appearing in the Colonial Acres April auction, is recognized for its condition with a grade of "choice fine". The bidding for that lot is set to start at $10,000 CAD, while a 1911 $10 note appearing in the same auction will start at a bid of $12,000 CAD. The "very fine" graded $10 banknote is projected to sell for up to $22,000 in auction.

WeyburnsecuritybanknoteColonial Acres describes this 1911 $10 Weyburn Security Bank note (Lot 987) as ‘among the top graded examples available for public purchase.’ (Photo provided by Colonial Acres Coins Ltd.)

It was 6 Americans who started it all, helping to set the wheels of our history in motion when they purchased 50,000 acres of local land in 1899. The activity surrounding the arrival of the Soo Line Railway provided an investment opportunity for this mix of grain merchants, lawyers and bankers, who first operated under the name "Canadian Investment Company" and dealt mostly in land and lumber sales for arriving settlers. Onstad explained that it didn't take long for their operations to include banking as well, though.

"They happened to find that different farmers in the district had accrued some money and they wanted somebody to hang on to it. So, the lumberyards kind of became that banking service. It got to be pretty popular with some of the farmers in the area, so they started the Weyburn Security Company and did some private banking, lending, and land development for the area," said Onstad.

That development in 1902 would allow farmers to purchase equipment with borrowed money and grow their operations much more quickly, a major contribution to the success of settlers around Weyburn. At its peak, the Weyburn Security Bank featured 33 branches across Saskatchewan, all offering these same essential services to the Southern section of the province. Acting as pioneers in their own right, Weyburn Security Bank was also the exclusive provider for certain insurances as well.

"In the Bank Act, there was an amendment that allowed strictly Weyburn Security Bank to sell hail insurance and it was called the Weyburn Amendment. Lending was an important source of revenue, but this hail insurance was also a big part of the business," said Onstad.

It was a steady rise for Weyburn Security Bank until the financial crash of the 30's, but the insight of H.O. Powell would help the company survive outside of the banking industry. In 1926 Powell moved to separate the business into two entities, which allowed for one to survive until today.

"Weyburn Security went from a partnership to an incorporated company to protect Weyburn Security in case there was a bank failure, which there was. It was a very smart move by H.O. Powell, and a substantial loan from the Bank of Commerce helped keep them afloat for a while," commended Onstad. "We almost didn't exist, but slowly they diversified from land and grain into general insurance and crop-sharing. We really got back on our feet in the 50's and 60's with investing when oil was discovered in Saskatchewan. We benefited from oil and mineral rights on land that we owned, and that led us more into the business of investing."

OnstadsAlbert Onstad was the General Manager of Weyburn Security from 1948-1967, followed by Jack Onstad from 1973-2000, and Jim Onstad from 2000-present day.

In more recent years, Weyburn Security has been known to invest in real estate, rental properties, and commercial buildings while still providing advisory services that allow businesses to grow and thrive in Southeast Saskatchewan. Jim Onstad serves as a third generation Managing Director for the company with his son, Mike, working alongside him as Assistant Manager and Financial Advisor. Jim expressed his interest in the two historical banknotes appearing in auction, saying that he'll be keeping close watch on those lots as the auction date approaches.

On April 5th and 6th, the $10 and $20 bank notes will debut in Colonial Acres’ Spring Premier Numismatic Auction, held at the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show in Mississauga, Ontario. Collectors and history buffs alike will be vying for ownership of these exceedingly rare pieces of our hometown's history.