Canadian Pacific Hotels

Canadian Pacific Hotels was a division of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) that operated a series of resort hotels across Canada. Most of these hotels were originally built and operated by the railway's hotel department, while a few were acquired from Canadian National Hotels. Today, they are operated under the Fairmont name, and remain some of Canada's most exclusive hotels.

The CPR built two types of hotels: urban hotels and rural resort hotels. The urban hotels were located near a city's major passenger station and were intended for use by elite passengers of CPR trains. These hotels served businesspeople and visitors to the respective city, as well as passengers requiring overnight accommodation between connecting trains. The rural resort hotels were located in areas served by the CPR which had unique scenery, allowing these properties to be marketed as tourist destinations for passenger train travellers. Some of these resort hotels also served as "stationary dining cars", where en route passengers were fed and housed, without the train having to carry heavy dining and kitchen cars over difficult terrain.

The hotels were architecturally different in appearance, but materials such as granite walls and copper roofs were common elements. Many of these structures were constructed to look somewhat similar to European castles. One of the unique CPR hotels is the Chateau Montebello, which was for many years the world's largest log building. The Tudor style Algonquin in St. Andrews, New Brunswick also stands out as it was one of the few Canadian Pacific Hotels that was not constructed by CPR itself. The original hotels were built in the Rocky Mountains to attract tourists from eastern Canada, incorporating local attractions such as exceptional scenery and therapeutic mineral hot springs.


In 1886, the CPR had constructed a few small hotels to accommodate travellers, including Glacier House in Glacier National Park at Rogers Pass and Mount Stephen House in Field, British Columbia. Other small hotels were soon constructed at Kicking Horse Pass, North Bend in Fraser Canyon, Sicamous on Shuswap Lake, and Revelstoke. Some of the lesser pioneer hostelries were designed primarily to provide meal service for passengers in the Rocky Mountains, where railway grades were too severe to justify the operation of dining cars (see the Big Hill), although Glacier House and the Sicamous Hotel were destination hotels in their own right. All establishments operated successfully for a number of years, but were abandoned as hotels, when through dining car service made their maintenance unprofitable. Glacier House attracted considerable alpine patronage till diversion of the railway's main passenger service to the Southern Mainline left it considerably removed from the beaten track, and this resort too ceased to operate.[1]

Other small hotels were operated in the Kootenays region south of the mainline, notably at Balfour where Balfour House was a lodging for ferry passengers connecting across Kootenay Lake, which was an integral part of service on the Southern Mainline. In 1886, Van Horne built Fraser Canyon House in North Bend (part of Boston Bar), and locally called in its day the CPR Hotel. Later renamed the North Bend Hotel, the original structure burned down in 1927, with a second hotel built in 1929 but no longer extant.[1][2][3]

CPR's Hotel Department for the operation of tourist accommodation began with the opening of the Hotel Vancouver on May 16, 1888, this was the first of three railway-owned hotels by that name in Vancouver. Two weeks later, the Banff Springs Hotel was officially opened on June 1, 1888. Newly appointed CPR president William Cornelius Van Horne had personally chosen the site in the Rocky Mountains for the new hotel, and he envisioned a string of grand hotels across Canada that would draw visitors from abroad to his railway.[1]

The original Banff Springs Hotel, though much smaller than the present hotel, became such an immediate hit among tourists of the 1880s, the CPR encouraged the federal government to establish Canada's first national park in the territory surrounding it; eventually leading to a network of national parks across the nation. Hotels in major metropolitan areas served by CPR soon followed and these were intended for use by both tourists and business travellers.[1]

The Chateau Lake Louise, opened in 1890 as a single-storey building of log construction, was also popular for tourists. Subsequent additions were made to it in 1893, 1900, 1906, 1911, 1913, 1924 and reconstruction in 1925. Additions to the Banff Springs Hotel were completed in 1911, 1914, 1926 and 1928, necessitated by the growing volume of tourist traffic.[1]

In addition to hotels, the CPR also operated five bungalow camps across the country as well. It owned, operated or leased a number of camps, tea houses and chalets in remote sections of the Rockies served by Canadian Pacific lines. These include Emerald Lake Chalet and Yoho Valley Lodge, Field; Lake O'Hara and Lake Wapta Lodges at Hector and Moraine Lake Lodge at Lake Louise. Tea houses were located at Twin Falls, Plain of the Six Glaciers, and Lake Agnes, near Lake Louise.[1]

First of the company's eastern hotels, the Château Frontenac was opened at Quebec City on December 11, 1893, while subsequent additions in 1904, 1906, 1916 and 1923, which included the great central tower, made it one of the finest hotels in Canada. It was further improved in 1926.[1] and in 1992-1993 with the addition of the Claude-Pratte wing.

The turreted Place Viger Hotel, now one of Montreal's familiar landmarks, was the city's leading hostelry for many years. Erected in 1898, the hotel and its adjacent terminals catered to a large section of the travelling public till 1935 when the hotel ceased to operate.[1]

For the next Canadian Pacific hotel development the spotlight shifts westward again, when the small hotel at Sicamous, British Columbia, was opened in 1900. Ovelooking Shuswap Lake, the Hotel Sicamous was a great favourite with the visiting tourist. Once owned and operated by the CPR, operation in its later years, was under lease. The hotel was demolished in 1964.[1]

In 1901 the McAdam Hotel one of the CPR's smaller hotels was opened at McAdam, New Brunswick, gateway to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea and other popular vacation resorts. The following year saw the opening of the Emerald Lake Chalet, near Field, British Columbia. Its proximity to Banff and Lake Louise further enhanced its popularity in the Rocky Mountain vacation picture. In 1903 The Algonquin hotel at St. Andrews was taken over by the CPR.[1]

Next link on the CPR hotel chain appeared in Winnipeg, when the Royal Alexandra Hotel was completed in 1906. Substantial additions were made in 1914 on this popular prairie hostelry, the largest CPR hotel between Toronto and Calgary. The hotel was connected directly to the railway station, and enjoyed a lavish career for many years. However, by the mid 1960s with the increasing dominance of the airlines, and the hotel's physical location, the number of guests had decreased significantly. The Royal Alexandra closed in December 1967, and was demolished in 1971.[1]

The Empress Hotel, the CPR's world-famous hostelry at Victoria, British Columbia, was erected two years later and officially opened on January 20, 1908. Additional wings have since been added, the latest in 1929. Like the Royal Alexandra, the Empress was also a candidate for demolition in the mid 1960s, however, this well-known Canadian landmark was instead renovated and refurbished and has since undergone further restoration to its original, pre-war elegance.[1]

The Palliser Hotel at Calgary joined the CPR hotel family in 1914 when it was opened to the public. This handsome and well-appointed hostelry near the Rocky Mountain foothills, was enlarged in 1929. In 1927, in the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan, the company opened its Hotel Saskatchewan at Regina, which soon became a favourite stopping-place for visitors to the Queen City of the West.[1]

The Royal York Hotel, once billed as the largest hotel in the British Empire and one of the finest on the continent, opened its doors on June 11, 1929. A well-known landmark on the Toronto skyline, one of its attractions was said to be its spectacular view overlooking the vast expanse of Lake Ontario, a feature that seems to have been lost to the recent condominium development of Harbourfront.[1]

The tourism success of the CPR's subsidiary in Nova Scotia, the Dominion Atlantic Railway, led the CPR to invest in a series of Nova Scotian Hotels. The CPR was the lead investor in the Lord Nelson Hotel built in Halifax in 1927 to rival Canadian National's Hotel Nova Scotian. Next came the construction in 1929 of the new, baronial style Cornwallis Inn at Kentville, Nova Scotia in the Annapolis Valley and the rebuilding of the Digby Pines Hotel at Digby. The Nova Scotian chain was completed in June 1931 with the new rustic Lakeside Inn resort at Yarmouth.[1]

Canadian Pacific Hotels Outside of Canada

Prior to the acquisition of the Fairmont chain, CP Hotels operated two hotels in Israel, three in Germany and one in the United States. These properties were all transferred to other operators by the end of the 1980s.In the late1960 CP Hotels took over the operation of two hotels in Mexico. One in Mexico City and the other in Acapulco.

Final expansion

CPR's rival Grand Trunk Railway and later Canadian National Railway copied Van Horne's approach by building hotels such as the Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta, and the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. CPR purchased CN's hotel chain in 1988, making Canadian Pacific Hotels and Resorts (CP Hotels) the nation's largest hotel owner. In the 1990s, CP Hotels began to expand and purchased the Canadian Delta Hotels chain and the international Princess Hotels chain in 1998, which became wholly owned subsidiaries of CP Hotels. The following year in 1999 the company underwent a significant expansion in its international holdings when it purchased the San Francisco-based Fairmont Hotels and Resorts chain, gaining control of famed hotels as The Plaza in New York City.

In April 1999, Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts Inc. announced that it was teaming up with Kingdom Hotels (USA) Ltd. and Maritz Wolff & Co. to form Fairmont Hotel Management L.P. CP will have a 67 per cent stake in the company, Kingdom and Maritz each had a 16.5 per cent interest.[4]

In 2001, parent Canadian Pacific Limited underwent a reorganization and renamed its Canadian Pacific Hotels and Resorts subsidiary as Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, borrowing the name of the company it had purchased in 1999.[4] The newly re-organized Fairmont company shuffled several properties to its Delta subsidiary, while maintaining many original "signature" resorts and hotels from Fairmont and CP Hotels under the new Fairmont banner. Later that year in October 2001, Canadian Pacific Limited spun off all of its subsidiary companies into separately traded "independent" companies, including Canadian Pacific Railway and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

On 30 January 2006, Fairmont agreed to be acquired by a venture of Kingdom Hotels International and Colony Capital, which also own the Raffles and Swissotel chains.

List of CP hotels

Surviving properties of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

Surviving properties sold/transferred to other operators



  • Balmoral Beach Hotel, Nassau, Bahamas, now Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort


  • Curaçao Plaza, Willemstad, currently operated as Plaza Hotel Curaçao



  • Jerusalem Plaza, Jerusalem, operated 1970s-1980s, currently operated by Leonardo Hotels as the Leonardo Plaza Hotel Jerusalem.
  • Tiberias Plaza, Tiberias, operated 1970s-1980s, currently operated by Leonardo Hotels as the Leonardo Plaza Hotel Tiberias.


  • El Mirador Plaza, Acapulco, Guerrero, currently operated as Mirador Acapulco Hotel.[7]
  • Club Akumal Caribe, Caribe, Quintana Roo, currently operated as Hotel Akumal Caribe

United States

  • Franklin Plaza, Philadelphia, operated 1979-1984, currently operated as the Philadelphia 201 Hotel.

Surviving properties sold and converted to other uses

  • Cornwallis Inn, Kentville, Nova Scotia, opened 1929; converted to residential and office use
  • Place Viger, Montreal, Quebec (1898–1935; still standing but no longer a hotel; In May 2014, real estate developer Jesta along with partners announced a $250 million mixed-use redevelopment plan for the complex.)
  • Lakeside Inn, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, opened 1930; converted in 1960 to the Villa Saint-Joseph du Lac nursing home.[8]
  • Red Oak Inn, Peterborough, Ontario – today the Princess Gardens retirement home.[9]

Non operating properties

Demolished or lost properties

  • Glacier House, Glacier National Park (1887–1929; demolished); built along CPR line. The abandoned remains are located next to Illecillewaet Campground
  • Fraser Canyon House, North Bend, Fraser Canyon, B.C. – first hotel built in 1897 and burned down in 1927; rebuilt 1929 and since demolished[10]
  • Mount Stephen House, Field, British Columbia (1886–1963; demolished 1953–1963); Tudor hotel was used by YMCA from 1919 to 1953[11]
  • Hotel Sicamous, Shuswap Lake, British Columbia; Tudor style hotel was built early 1900 and demolished 1964[12]
  • Hotel Vancouver 1888–1912 – Canadian Pacific's first urban hotel. Rebuilt on the same site 1912–16.
  • Hotel Vancouver 1916–1939 – The second of three railway hotels by that name. During the Great Depression, an arrangement was made to close it and jointly operate CN's new hotel, which became the third Hotel Vancouver. After serving for ten years as barracks and temporary housing, the second was demolished in 1949; its site remained a parking lot until the Pacific Centre began construction in 1969.
  • Royal Alexandra Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Built between 1906 and 1911, it opened in 1911; hotel closed in 1967 and demolished by 1971; interior of the Royal Alexandra Cafe was saved and relocated to BC Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook, BC 1999[13]
  • Le Baron Motor Hotel, Sherbrooke, Quebec, demolished
  • Lucayan Harbour Inn and Marina, Freeport, Bahamas, demolished to build Grand Bahama Yacht Club

Former CN hotels purchased in 1988

See also


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