DEFINITION of Bay Street

Bay Street lies at the heart of Toronto’s downtown business district, and is often used as a catchword for Canada’s financial industry, just as Wall Street has come to be a shorthand for the U.S. financial services industry.


Bay Street is the Canadian equivalent of Wall Street, and is home to several major banks, large corporate law firms and other important Canadian institutions. Four of Canada's five major banks have office towers at the intersection of Bay Street and King Street — the Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, CIBC and TD bank.

Talk about Bay Street invariably centers on economic and financial issues, with an emphasis on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) – which is located about a block west of Bay Street, at the intersection of York Street and King Street. The TSX is the most significant stock exchange in Canada, the third-largest stock exchange in North America by capitalization, after the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. It also has the largest number of listed securities of any exchange in the world.

Until the 1970s, St. James Street in Montreal — where major English insurance, banking and trust companies had built their Canadian head offices since the second half of the 19th century — was still Canada's financial center. Canada's financial services industry relocated after the separatist Parti Quebecois provincial government was elected in 1976.