< CANADA | TORONTO: Fairmont Royal York Hotel
It all began in 1843 when Captain Thomas Dick, a respected lake-boat captain, decided to build Ontario Terrace - four brick houses facing Front Street. However, the captain was an ambitious man and the houses grew to become a row, and were occupied by the Knox Theological College. In 1853, the building was refurbished and became the Sword's Hotel and following a change of ownership, renamed the Revere Hotel. Captain Dick returned, purchased the property again in 1862 and then renovated it. The stately Queen's Hotel became an integral part of the boomtown.
Canadian Pacific Railway Company announced plans to build the largest hotel in the British Commonwealth on the Front Street site, but citizens were shocked about the
demolition of their beloved “Queen's.” Nevertheless, construction began in 1927, immediately across from Union Station and Canadian Pacific Railway.
On June 11, 1929, the Royal York was officially opened by His Excellency Viscount Willingdon, Governor General of Canada. Over 2,000 of Canada's who's who attended the social event of the year. The Royal York was the tallest building in the British Empire and truly set the standard of the day. It was a magnificent landmark with 28 floors of architectural splendour, mechanical genius and opulence that had never been seen by Torontonians in their city before. Ross and Macdonald, perhaps the biggest architectural firm in Canada during the late 1920s, was chosen for the Royal York Hotel project. Total cost was $16 million.
It featured 1,048 rooms each with radio, private shower and bathtubs. The 1.5 acres of public rooms included a 12-bed hospital, a 12,000-book library, and 10 ornate passenger elevators. The Concert Hall featured a full stage and a mammoth pipe organ and surpassed anything else like it in Canada with 300 miles of copper wire, its own engine, and weighing 50 tons. There was a glass-enclosed roof garden, the largest hotel kitchen in Canada with a bakery that could produce over 15,000 French rolls a day, a conference hall with public address system for over 1,000 delegates and a 66' long switchboard manned by 35 telephone operators.
Within a year, guest demand became too great and 152 rooms were added, bringing the total to 1,200 bedrooms, with conference facilities for 5,000. Later years saw additional renovations. In 1959, a 400-room tower was built on the east site with additional guestrooms and meeting and banquet facilities. From 1988 to 1993 a $100-million project took place to restore Toronto's "Grand Hotel" to its original elegance. Guest rooms were refurbished, all public spaces were redone and a health club and a sky-lit lap pool were added. In 2001, EPIC, a new signature dining room replaced the 27 year-old Acadian Room. The restaurant was part of an additional $12-million restoration program that has transformed the lobby and much of the public areas of the hotel.
In 1999, when the Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts chain expanded to become Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, The Fairmont Royal York became part of the largest luxury hotel management company in North America.
Today, after welcoming more than 40 million guests, The Fairmont Royal York continues to represent the epitome of hospitality. Although the years have brought changes, many of the features are still intact - the magnificent hand painted ceiling, the travintine pillars, ornate furnishings, crystal chandeliers and wall hangings. Guests walk where the rich and famous continue to walk and no. 9 elevator still carries illustrious guests such as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.