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Business & Economics General

From Wall Street to Bay Street

The Origins and Evolution of American and Canadian Finance

by (author) Joe Martin & Chris Kobrak

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2018
General, Finance, General, General, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price

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Where to buy it


The 2008 financial crisis rippled across the globe and triggered a worldwide recession. Unlike the American banking system which experienced massive losses, takeovers, and taxpayer funded bailouts, Canada’s banking system withstood the crisis relatively well and maintained its liquidity and profitability. The divergence in the two banking systems can be traced to their distinct institutional and political histories.

From Wall Street to Bay Street is the first book for a lay audience to tackle the similarities and differences between the financial systems of Canada and the United States. Christopher Kobrak and Joe Martin reveal the different paths each system has taken since the early nineteenth-century, despite the fact that they both originate from the British system. The authors trace the roots of each country’s financial systems back to Alexander Hamilton and insightfully argue that while Canada has preserved a Hamiltonian financial tradition, the United States has favoured the populist Jacksonian tradition since the 1830s. The sporadic and inconsistent fashion in which the American system have changed over time is at odds with the evolutionary path taken by the Canadian system. From Wall Street to Bay Street offers a timely and accessible comparison of financial systems that reflects the political and cultural milieus of two of the world’s top ten economies.

About the authors

Joseph E. Martin is the director of the Canadian Business History program, adjunct professor of Business Strategy, and Executive in Residence at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

Joe Martin's profile page

Christopher Kobrak was the Wilson/Currie Chair of Canadian Business and Financial History at the Rotman School of Management as well as a professor emeritus of finance at ESCP, Paris.

Chris Kobrak's profile page


  • Short-listed, The Toronto Heritage Toronto Award awarded by Heritage Toronto

Editorial Reviews

"This is a fine book. It delivers the explanation that [the authors] promised to the lay reader, but professional economic historians will also find that the book is worth their time."


"As they range back and forth across the border, Kobrak and Martin adeptly explore how banks in [Canada and the United States of America] dealt with the free market economy, periods of war and financial instability, and the introduction of railroads, computers and other technological marvels."

LRC, vol 26 10, December 2018

"The authors set themselves a challenging task, to write a book for the general public that traced financial history from colonial times to the present in both the US and Canada. I am happy to report that they have met that challenge."

Banking and Finance Law Review, April '19

"The American and Canadian financial systems reflect their national cultures and national priorities. But perhaps a sober reflection on how each country got to where it is today could prompt some tweaks to the systems to make them both more vibrant and more stable. From Wall Street to Bay Street is a good place to gain material for such reflection.", May 16, 2018

"From Bay Street to Wall Street tracks the double helix of North American finance with clarity and insight well into the twentieth century."

Business History Review, vol 93 no 1, Spring '19

"Financial historians Christopher Kobrak and Joe Martin of the Rotman School of Management chronicle 300 years of money in Canada with an account rich in anecdotes and telling in its findings. …From Wall Street To Bay Street moves at a smart clip with quirky research. Who knew colonial Québec used playing cards as currency, or that the Spanish silver dollar was the most commonly circulated coin in Nova Scotia in 1790?"

Blacklock’s Reporter, April 7, 2018

"From Wall Street to Bay Street remains an exemplary study of comparative financial history: it is an interesting, informative, systematic, ludic, and comprehensive historical account of the evolution of the two financial systems."

The Canadian Historical Review, Vol 100 1, March ‘19