Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, Canada

Bradford Gilbert then Ross & Macfarlane
Date Built
Opened 1912
Rideau Street & Sussex Drive
The Chateau Laurier hotel faces on to Rideau Street between the Rideau Canal and MacKenzie Avenue.  It looks across the street to the Government Conference Centre that was once Ottawa's Union Station.  Both of these buildings were commissioned by the Grand Trunk Railway.  In both cases the New York architect Bradford Gilbert had been tasked with the design but he was replaced by the Montreal practice of Ross & Macfarlane.  The site was regarded as significant and the railway had some difficulty securing it until the Prime Minister, Wilfrid Laurier, intervened.  His role in securing the site explains the name that the railway gave to the hotel.  The hotel opened on the 12th of June 1912 two months after the Grand Trunk Railway's president Charles Hays had died onboard the Titanic, on his was back to Canada for the occasion.

Built in the chateau style, the hotel offers guests a choice of 429 rooms in a building that features Tiffany glass and hand-moulded plaster decoration.  Located across from a major railway station that was later transformed into a conference centre, down the street from the Houses of Parliament and on the route to the Prime Minister's home on Sussex Drive, it is not hard to understand why it became known as the Third Chamber of Parliament.  This was a place where the business of the nation was conducted.  In fact, Prime Minister R. B. Bennet lived at the Chateau Laurier between 1930 and 1935. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation transmitted local radio broadcasts from the seventh and eighth floors of the hotel between 1924 and 2004.

When the Grand Trunk Railway became the Canadian National Railway, the hotel became part of the Canadian National Hotel chain. In 1988 that chain was purchased by Canadian Pacific Hotels, and then in 1999 after Canadian Pacific bought the American hotel chain Fairmont, this became the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.  An article on the CBC website dated November 2, 2013, announced that, "The iconic building that houses the Fairmont Château Laurier, just steps from Parliament Hill, has been sold.  The Capital Hotel Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Vancouver’s Larco Investments, took over the hotel on Friday. It was previously owned by the real-estate subsidiary of the pension fund Caisse du dépôt et placement du Québec.  The sale price has not been released, but it is believed to be in the $100-150 million range. The new owners have said they would not make any visible changes to the hotel, though they would refurbish the building over time."