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What is the Vancouver Stock Exchange?

By Paul Woods
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Vancouver Stock Exchange formerly was one of the three largest equity markets in Canada. It specialized in trading the stocks of small capitalization companies and energy and mineral exploration companies. In 1999, the Vancouver Stock Exchange and other Canadian markets merged to form what was at that time called the Canadian Venture Exchange. Later, that merged exchange was acquired by the Toronto Stock Exchange which renamed and restructured it.

On April 12, 1907, business leaders in Vancouver, British Columbia, founded the Vancouver Stock Exchange to create a financial center in that city in far western Canada. In 1929, it moved into the art deco Stock Exchange Building. It grew until only the Toronto Stock Exchange and Montreal Stock Exchange were larger.

The exchange became a center for trading Canadian-based companies with less than $1 billion U.S. Dollars (USD) in capitalization, i.e., the market value of a company's outstanding shares. These are commonly referred to as small capitalization, or small cap, companies. In the 1990s, the Vancouver Stock Exchange had more than 2,100 companies listed on it. Also at that time, the exchange conducted about $4 billion USD in annual trades.

Prior to the 1999 merger, the Vancouver Stock Exchange was alleged to have many financially unsound companies which were unable to get listed elsewhere. It was the subject of media attention that focused primarily on mining stocks listed on the exchange. The Canadian Venture Exchange was created by the merger of the Vancouver Stock Exchange, the Alberta Stock Exchange, and the a portion of the Montreal Stock Exchange dedicated to small cap stocks. The newly formed exchange resulting from the merger remained headquartered in the Stock Exchange Building in Vancouver.

In 2001, the Toronto Stock Exchange created a holding company called the TSX Group, which owned the Toronto exchange and acquired the Canadian Venture Exchange. Following that purchase, the TSX Group renamed the Canadian Venture Exchange as the TSX Venture Exchange. The newly acquired TSX Venture Exchange kept its trading operations in Vancouver but moved its corporate headquarters to Calgary, Alberta.

This successor entity to the original Vancouver Stock Exchange retained the same focus of the old exchange. The TSX exchange was acquired to continue serving as a market for emerging and small cap companies, particularly those not yet meeting the requirements for listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In addition to the Calgary headquarters and the operations center in the old Vancouver Stock Exchange Building, TSX maintains offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Winnipeg.

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