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News Update

 

“My Second Career as a Computer Centre Tour Guide” by Wayne Fowler, Markham, Ontario

March 2, 2021

 

Wayne Fowler, Markham, Ontario has written an interesting and amusing story about some of his career experiences in technology which include how he qualified for the role of Computer Centre Tour Guide. His story has snap shots of his ingenuity, adaptability and is sprinkled with his personal brand of humour.  To read "My Second Career as a Computer Centre Tour Guide", click here.

“If you have any comments regarding this story, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 

 

 

 


 

Letter to the Editor - “Elliot Lake Branch, Ontario” by Lloyd Varner, Sackville, New Brunswick

February 27, 2021

 

 

We recently received a letter from Lloyd Varner, Sackville, New Brunswick regarding our story, “Memories and Reflections - My International Posting” by Bruce Sinclair dated February 15, 2021 which we are pleased to share with you.

“I do not know how it happened, but somehow I am in possession of a beer stein inscribed:

      CF-104 CLOSEOUT

      26 FEB - 2 MAR 1986

      CFB BADEN-SOELLINGEN 

Looking at this thirty-five-year-old mug I feel directly connected to Bruce Sinclair’s story, “Memories and Reflections - My International Posting”. He is privileged to have served in one of Bank of Montreal’s branches at Canada’s European NATO bases. His reminiscences are delightful and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bruce’s story.

Bruce had a unique and interesting career path and the account of his European posting only scratches the surface. He very casually mentioned his early posting to the newly opened Bank of Montreal branch at Elliot Lake. I can assure you that was a once in a lifetime experience. I was one of a two-person team that inspected our Elliot Lake branch at some time in those early days and I have never seen another bank operation like it. Our Bank of Montreal branch was the only bank in a large remote frontier community which was under construction in the wilderness. Bank of Montreal's building could only be described as a rough construction shack with a makeshift layout. Needless to say, it was extremely busy and the niceties of a normal branch routine did not exist there. It was memorable to me that, at one time or another over the previous year, every member of the staff including the Branch Manager and the stenographer had been assigned cash and had served as a Teller. Things were hectic when it became busy, as it often did, and they did what had to be done. I understand that more than one young banker left the bank’s service rather than stay working at that branch.

The Manager who opened Elliot Lake branch must have been either a glutton for punishment or a daring pioneer. He was also the Manager who opened Bank of Montreal's branch at Frobisher Bay, NWT (Iqaluit, Nunavut). Unfortunately he, like our Iqaluit branch, is no longer with us.”

Lloyd Varner, Sackville, New Brunswick

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We would also enjoy hearing about other experiences working in unusual or strange places with the Bank of Montreal.” 


 

“Supporting the Bank’s Mainframe Operating Systems – the RDCs” by Alan Grundy, Georgetown, Ontario

February 23, 2021

 

Alan Grundy, Georgetown, Ontario has written an interesting story about the role he had in the Bank of Montreal providing support for the bank's mainframe operating systems in relation to the Regional Data Centres.  The story provides 'behind the scenes' technical insights that many of us never knew was being performed. To read, "Supporting the Bank's Mainframe Operating Systems - the RDCs", click here.

If you have any comments regarding this story, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 

 

 


 

“Memories and Reflections - My International Posting” by Bruce Sinclair, St. Catharines, Ontario

February 15, 2021

Bruce Sinclair, St. Catharines, Ontario has written an amazing story about his international assignment with the Bank of Montreal working on a NATO Base. It is a fascinating story filled with lots of history and interesting information. We are very fortunate that Bruce has taken the time to write about his experiences as it is a piece of banking history that is not commonly known to many of us. To read, "Memories and Reflections - My International Posting" click here. To read  Click Here 

 

 


 

 

"Going from a War Room into a Little-Known Data Centre in Purgatory" by Rob Allan, Hamilton, Ontario

February 9, 2021

Rob Allan, Hamilton, Ontario has sent us a very interesting story about one of his many experiences dealing with the Bank of Montreal's data centres. It is quite an eye-opener as it depicts the complexity of the kind of work that he was involved in. It also gives us a glimpse into how stressful work environments can bring out the best and the worst in people. Rob has many more stories about data centres and no doubt we will be hearing from him again. Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled. To read, "Going from a War Room into a Little-Known Data Centre in Purgatory" To read  Click Here 

If you have any comments regarding this story, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you.

 


 

 

Letter to the Editor - “The Burlington Data Centre and What I Did There”

 February 5, 2021

Rhonda on the old 803 machine

 

We recently received a letter from Rhonda Bennitt, Dundas, Ontario about her experience working in the Burlington Data Centre and are happy to share it with you.

“I worked at the Burlington Data Centre from 1980 throughout my career. It was open in 1978 -1979, I believe around the same time as the data centre in London, Ontario. It covered branches from Hanover, Mississauga, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, Dunnville, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Cambridge most of the southern region of Ontario which was over 200 branches. London and Toronto Centres had their regions as well. I had to memorize all the names and transit numbers of the branches and some I still remember today.

I started working on the NCR encoding machines to encode cheques, then the 803 machines which were used for items that could not go through the computer, famously called the ‘sundry’ items. The 803 was an unusual machine. When you made a balancing error you had to reverse your error by subtracting from nines which was a build into the machine, however, you still had to work it out on paper. Yes, it was the age of lots of paper.

From there I worked in the Computer Control Department which balanced and reconciled all cheques coming out of the computer room to tapes of what went into the computer room. The computer would generate large computer printouts used for balancing. There was up to 350 cheques in each batch of cheques.There was the Dispatch Department which sent the cheques and paper statements etc., to the branches. If you worked or helped out in that department you had to know your transit numbers and branch names and if you weren’t too familiar with them, you learnt them pretty fast. I balanced the cash books for the Data Centre, worked in Human Resources and the Tracing Department all of which I really enjoyed. Tracing involved old and new returned items (NSF, post dated, encoded incorrectly, etc.) and inquiries into cheques and copies of cheques by branches for customers.

The cheque portion of the Data Centre was moved to Toronto sometime in the early 1990s. After that the Burlington Data Centre housed the CPUP - Utility payments made by clients at branches, CAPPS - Retail payments remitted via Canada Post by individuals and Lockbox - Wholesale bill payment process company-to-company via Canada Post. Along with Administration and Tracing Departments for these products.

Today the building holds one of BMO’s Canadian and US (Harris Bank) wire transfer units, (the other wire transfer unit is in Montreal) as well the Burlington building holds a Correspondent Banking Unit.

In or about 1993-1994 the bank moved its Mortgage Department from Toronto to a building right behind the Burlington Data Centre which is the Harrington Court building. Then the bank brought in the Student loans to this building as well. The building still remains as the Mortgage Centre. They are responsible for all the back office work that goes into mortgages (set-ups, maintenance, taxes and discharges). The Mortgage Centre in Burlington processes for across Canada except Quebec which has its own centre.

I worked in both of these two buildings during my 37-year career with the bank. Fond memories come back when I think of all the positions I did in those years. The best part was meeting and working with all the people and how many of them I still have contact with today. I cannot believe I have been retired almost 4 years from the Harvest Road Burlington Data Centre. I started at the centre and ended up retiring from there, May 26, 1980 to May 26, 2017 to the day.

When I read the article on “Bank of Montreal’s Data Centres” and saw no data for the Burlington Data Centre, I just had to send an email. I hope it helps in collecting data. Thank you for the memories.”

Yours sincerely,

Rhonda Bennitt

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 


 

BOMPA Northern Alberta January 2021 Newsletter

February 3, 2021

 

 

The latest BOMPA Northern Alberta Newsletter is now available.

Go to the Association Newsletters webpage to read the latest issue. 

Thanks to Bill Kilgour for sharing.

 

 

 

 


 

Letter to the Editor - London Regional Data Centre

February 2, 2021

We have been receiving wonderful and interesting letters from our members about their experiences working in the Bank of Montreal’s Data Centres. We have another one to share with you. The following letter was sent to us by Laurie Moore, Newmarket, Ontario about her role working at the London Regional Data Centre.

“I started with BMO at the London Regional Data Centre (LRDC) on Green Valley Road in 1980 as a part-time, job grade C3, cheque encoder, evening shift. This job, the lowest grade back then, was intended to support me, while I attended Western University, London, Ontario for two or three years, and 40 years later, I retired from BMO!

My LRDC job was to MICR encode the dollar amount on each cheque, using a clunky IBM 1260 machine, and process and sort the cheques as fast as possible. It was a friendly competitive environment, each person striving to put through the highest volume each night.  A couple of years later, the 1260s were replaced by a much faster NCR machine which allowed us to more easily achieve the new production pay bonuses, which were very welcome. I can’t remember all the details around the bonuses. However, there were minimum quotas set based on length of experience, e.g., 3 months, 6 months, etc. For example, the bonus started at 1,800 items per hour. This included balancing and closing at the end of each shift. So, achieving an average of say 2,300 per hour over a month, resulted in a few hundred dollars extra which was very welcome.  My starting pay was $5.37 per hour, plus a $0.30 per hour shift bonus. I know this, as I recently cleaned out a box in the basement and found my offer letter!

We all worked as a team, helping the mail clerks open the GENIE bags when needed, as they arrived by courier from the various branches. There was a strict deadline, I believe 1:00 a.m., to have all encoded cheques then sorted and captured by the computer operator, (and the name of those massive (33 pocket?) machines escapes me), else holdover would result. Everyone worked well together, helping each other balance at the end of the shift, so we could all leave at the same time; some of us including myself, with the goal to make the last call at a nearby drinking establishment.  

Summertime, we enjoyed weekend baseball tournaments with the Toronto RDC and Burlington RDC, with the objective to win the inter-RDC trophy. There were 4 or 5 baseball tournaments a year and I got to know some of the other employees in other data centres.

I do feel my five years at LRDC (I moved to Toronto in 1986) were the most "fun" with BMO, as the job every day was a team effort and I was part of a big work family.” 

Laurie Moore

“By the way, I did graduate from Western University with a B.A.”

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 


 

Letter to the Editor - “Burlington Data Centre”

February 1, 2021

We recently received the following letter from Patti Chambers, Burlington, Ontario and are pleased to share it with you.

“I was hired as a Genie clerk in June 1972 and I never knew the origin of my job title, until I read, “Who Invented the Name GENIE?”, which was on your website January 19, 2021.  From Genie clerk I got a position with the BOLID team to convert branches in Hamilton and area to computers. It was a great time and to this day my best memories of working for BMO. Everything was new and all the employees were excited for the next chapter in banking.

I started working at the Burlington Data Centre in 1978, which was also on your website, “Bank of Montreal’s Data Centres,  January 14, 2021. The day I started work there were 6 employees including the Security guard. I was in the position of RSM (Regional Systems Manager) after my time with BOLID.  We relieved some of Toronto Data Centre’s workload and it was my first experience with data processing. It was a great learning experience and it was a great place to be, as they say, “in on the ground floor.” Burlington Data Centre later expanded into many different departments. After I had my children I did return to the BDC on a contract basis to help with the Canada Savings Bonds workload in October/November every year. This once a year contract gave me the opportunity to connect with my former co-workers. At this time Larry Hadubiak was the Manager of BDC and he had also worked in BOLID, he was a wonderful man, his wife still lives nearby.

Moving forward to 2021 it all seems like a life time ago as many aspects of our lives are now online or connected to something that is online. So happy to have been a part of it and our thoughts go to all the people who are no longer with us. My years with BMO were all good. I still have life long friends with BMO; truly a family. We were very lucky to have such a workplace.”

Patti Chambers, Burlington, Ontario

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 


 

Letter to the Editor - “The GENIE Bag Contest”

January 28, 2021

We recently received from Dave Pennington, Etobicoke, Toronto a page from the bank’s history book, metaphorically speaking. He sent us copies of pages, 6 and 7, from an old “Staff” magazine which has a write-up regarding the contest for the GENIE bag’s name. Some background information was featured on our website in a snippet of information sent to us by Lloyd Varner, Sackville, N.B. entitled “Who Invented the Name GENIE?” January 19, 2021. (Click here to read in case you missed it.)

To read more about the, “Find a Name Data Processing” contest launched April, 1963 in the "Staff” magazine and the complete list of winners, click here.

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 

 


 

BOMPA Vancouver Island - Newsletter - January, 2021

January 26, 2021

"Joan Firkins, who is a member of the "Vancouver Island BOMPA", has sent us a fabulous idea of how she conducted a virtual session with their members. The meeting was a different way for the members to stay in touch with each other and to also have some fun. To read her newsletter and find out more, click here."

If you have any comments regarding this story, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 

 

 

 


 

Letter to the Editor - “Trapped in the London Regional Data Centre - LRDC”

January 24, 2021

We recently received a letter from John Myers, Chicago, Illinois about one of his experiences at the LRDC.

“I have just seen your piece on the BMO data centres. I happen to have been the first Manager of the London RDC. You are correct we started with a cheque sorter in temporary premises in downtown London but soon moved into a purpose built building on the other side of the 401 from the city.

In the winter of 1977 we had the worst snow I have ever experienced. The 401 was closed for several days. The night staff in the RDC were trapped in the centre for a few nights (don't remember the exact number) but had no food other than the snacks in the dispensing machine. There were no cots or other sleeping material. Subsequently we acquired emergency supplies for just such a contingency but I don't think they were ever used before the data centre was closed.

The photo is of my wife Joan and her parents standing in front of the LRDC.”

Regards,

John Myers, Chicago, Illinois

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 


 

“BMO Online Computing Historical Crossroad" from Tom Mitchell

January 21, 2021

Tom Mitchell, who is an Honorary Member of our website team and has a wide range of computer technology experience with BMO in many areas of the bank including the Montreal GENIE Centre during the 1960s, has suggested that we resurrect the film entitled, “Space Age Banking” from our archives for our members to view. The following is what Tom had to say.

"With the interest shown by many about Bank of Montreal's computer history, we have a movie clip produced around 1969 about the bank's plan to computerize banking. The film was used to inform bank employees about what the future holds for computers and how their job functions will be changing for the better. The film clip is called, "Space Age Banking".  To view Click Here 

Also in our Archives 2011 there is an article, “Memories of BMO Branch Mechanization - The Beginning” which you may like to read. In that story there is a compendium listing various bank communications regarding this topic. To read  Click Here 

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you."

“The film entitled, "Space Age Banking" is the property of BMO Financial Group. No part of this material may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the BMO Financial Group. Send any enquiries about this film directly to BMO Cyber Pensioners website."

 

 

 
 
 

Letter to the Editor - “Who Invented the Name GENIE?”

January 19, 2021

We recently received a letter from Lloyd Varner, Sackville, New Brunswick about the name GENIE. He sent us a snippet of information about how that particular name was chosen by the Bank of Montreal. You may find it interesting.

“When Bank of Montreal was preparing for the introduction of its first regional computer processing centres in the early 1960s they initiated a bank-wide competition for a name which would reflect its services. Any employee of Bank of Montreal would be eligible to submit proposed names and a cash prize would be awarded for the winning entry. As the campaign neared its close, Dick Filliter, Manager of the bank's Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Branch, made it known to his fellow bankers that after he had made two or three submissions he came up with a great name and had to rush its submission in order to meet the deadline for the campaign. His great idea was chosen as the winner of the contest and that is how Bank of Montreal's GENerating Information Electronically (GENIE) Centres got their name.”

Lloyd Varner, Sackville, New Brunswick

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you." 

 


 

"Bank of Montreal’s Data Centres" by Joan Mesic, Senior Correspondent

January 14, 2021

We recently received a request for a story about Bank of Montreal's data centres. So, we contacted BMO Corporate Archives to determine what they could share with us concerning this subject. They were able to provide us with some information such as: a list of the data centres, when they opened, a few photos as well as some information about the type of data processed and the complexity of the machinery. The birth of modern computing technology happened in the 1960s well into the 1970s and onwards. (*The world’s first general microprocessor, the Intel 4004, came out in November 1971.  The C programming language was developed early in the decade and the Unix operating system was rewritten into it in 1973. The 1970s was also the start of the video game era.) However, it was primarily in the 1960s when business began to widely employ this commercial computing technology e.g., the IBM 1401 replaced soon after by System 360. BMO moved into the business computing era in 1963 with the Montreal GENIE Centre. Due to the magnitude and speed of technology changes at this time Corporate Archives had difficulty capturing everything.  Corporate Archives also sent us a copy of the staff magazine, “MECH Concordia On-Line Supplement - 1976” which provides additional context.

To read "Bank of Montreal's Data Centres". Click Here 

We know some our members have worked in BMO’s data centres and are calling on them to send us their memories and/or stories which will provide a personal perspective of the work that was done in these centres. If you have had experience working in one of BMO's data centres, or jobs that were involved or connected to these processing centres, we would like to hear about them.  Please email us at: cyberpensioner@gmail.com

(*) = from the internet

“Material and images are the property of BMO Financial Group's Corporate Archives. No part of the material or photographs may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the Corporate Archives. If you have any comments regarding this story, please contact the BMO Cyber Pensioners News team at cyberpensioner@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you."  


 

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