Chateau Laurier

Ottawa, Ontario | C.1912

Photo Credit: Jeremy Kohm

Beneath a bevy of glowing orbs surrounded by the symmetry of swimming lanes, this 20-meter Art-Deco-style indoor pool of Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier is a relaxing mainstay within a massive structure. Opened in 1912, the Chateau Laurier has hosted guests and events in the heart of Ottawa for more than a century.

Designed in a French Gothic Revival Chateauesque style, this Chateau is 200,000 square meters and includes 429 guest rooms. Located near Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, it was designed to blend in with the nearby Gothic Revival-style Parliament buildings. Its grand turrets and copper roof earned it the nickname “Ottawa’s Castle”, and granted it a status as a national historic site.

Although beloved today, it’s beginnings were steeped in controversy. Commissioned by Grand Trunk Railway president Charles Melville Hays, the Chateau Laurier was set to occupy a portion of Major’s Hill Park, but was met with resistance. Canada’s Prime Minister, Sir Wilifred Laurier – who’s government was subsidizing the Grand Trunk Railway’s Pacific Line – used his leverage to secure the site. The hotel was, in turn, named in his honor.

After three years of construction, the Chateau Laurier was to be unveiled on April 26, 1912. However, Hays never saw its grand opening. He perished aboard the RMS Titanic when it sank on April 15. Despite the tragedy, Sir Wilifred Lauriere attended the structure’s opening ceremony, and the city celebrated its new hotel. When it opened, private rooms cost $2 a night and nearly half featured private baths.

Over the years, the Chateau Laurier continued to expand into the glamorous attraction that it is today. In 1999, it was renamed the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Guests can still marvel at its original Tiffany stained-glass windows, hand-molded plaster decorations, Indiana limestone walls and Belgian marble floors.

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