Bay Street is the financial capital of Canada, like Wall Street in USA or Dalal Street in India. Most of Canada’s big banks and investment houses are housed here. Ironically, the Stock Exchange itself is housed in Exchange Tower, a side street.
I thought that possibly the name was inspired by Hudson Bay, the Arctic Ocean holding the Canadian land mass in a huge aquatic phallic embrace. Or maybe it was named after Hudson Bay & Co, Canada’s oldest joint stock company founded in 1670. As every Canadian child knows, this company’s history includes being the country’s largest fur trader and owner of land.
Correction on origin of name (spotted by a reader):
The street was originally known as Bear Street because of frequent bear sightings in the early history of Toronto. It was renamed Bay Street in 1797 from the fact that it connected Lot Street (present-day Queen Street West) to a bay at the Toronto Harbour. In the 19th century the intersection of Bay and King Street was home to Toronto’s major newspapers: the Mail Building, the old Toronto Star Building, and the old Globe and Mail Building were all located near the intersection.
Until 1922, the section of Bay running north from Queen Street and ending at College Street was known as Terauley Street (named after the Terauley estate of John Simcoe Macaulay near Bay and Queen Streets). Several discontinuous streets existed north of College Street to Davenport Road. By-Law 9316 joined these streets together as far north as Scollard Street in 1922. Finally, By-Law 9884, enacted on January 28, 1924, changed the name of Ketchum Avenue to Bay Street, extending it to Davenport Road. There is a short street called Terauley Lane running west of Bay from Grenville Street to Grosvenor Street.
Why makes me suitable for this (mis) adventure?
I came to Canada as an immigrant in 2004 after careers is banking in three institutions and two countries – India and Bahrain. I spent 18 months in glorious unemployment and made a futile effort to start a consultancy. I was hired in 2006 by a firm in Toronto that deals in proxy research and corporate governance. I retired earlier this year. This website is an attempt to record some of my thoughts about the Canadian economy and markets. Maybe I can emulate Edmund Hillary. When asked, “why did you climb Everest?. He said, “because it is there”.
Maybe I can also be like that child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. That child’s unabashed look revealed far more than the “wise” adults would see.
What will this site be about?
The Canadian market has seen its share of excitement in recent years and we hope to cover it all. The pioneer of smartphones was brought down by a rival’s “cool” factor. The boom in commodities came in with a bang and went out with a whimper. The tarsands (sorry, oilsands) economy sputtered along, inhibited by our southern neighbour’s foolishness and/or sagacity not approving a certain pipeline. Financial scandals happened with some regularity. An engineering giant was beset with a bribery confession – probe – market cap crash – recovery – the usual cycle. In Canada, we are still waiting for a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffett to make billions and give most of it away to beneficial projects.
Unlike our neighbour to the south, we do not create legislation each time a crisis erupts. We follow a more benign regime of a principle based approach of “comply – or explain why not”. For companies headquartered in the U.S.A, we follow the full extent of the U.S domestic regulations. More on that later.
Preventing auditor malfeasance, separation of investment banking from commercial banking, efforts to rein in executive compensation, elaborate structures for mergers and acquisitions, procedures for corporate bankruptcies and so on have their legislative moorings in financial tsunamis down south. Expectedly perhaps, the US has not taken the lead in environmental legislation, Exxon Valdez and the Gulf of Mexico notwithstanding. Sad to say, there is still need for a new Erin Brockovich.
Stop press: We just heard a rumour that there will be a Harper Global Initiative, on the lines of the Clinton Global Initiative.
One more thing, this site does not provide market tips. Here is one tip that will have to do for now – GO LONG ON CANADA……