Five things you likely didn't know about the first Hotel Vancouver

1.  It was built for passengers

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) opened the first Hotel Vancouver in 1888 as a compilment to the successful opening of the city's new railway a year prior. It was meant for weary train passengers who would arrive just steps away at the Granville Street Station.

2.  Vancouverites did NOT like the design

One year before completion, local newspaper The Ledge, suggest that the Hotel Vanouver's architectural rendering resembled 'a compound of a decayed grist-mill with bits of bastile and the tower of London added,' and that the design was a 'monument of external ugliness.'

When speaking to the designer, CPR president William Cornelius Van Horne commented, " so you're the damn fool who spoilt the building with all those windows." Not a great start for the city's largest hotel...

3.  Van Horne imagined a string of grand hotels across Canada

The Hotel Vancouver opened on May 16, 1888, followed by a similar hotel in Banff, Alberta, just 2 weeks later. The hotels were meant to tempt Canadians with the idea of riding the CPR railway across the country.

4.  Vancouverites also did not like the location

Despite being in what is not the centre of the city, the 60 room hotel was deemed 'out of the way,' because of its distance from the city centre (present day Gastown). The hotel sat surrounded by forests and brush. It was located on Georgia and Granville Street.

5.  It was so successful that it had to be replaced

With Vancouver's economy booming, the CPR welcomed thousands of new tourists and workers to Vancouver. In 1916, the CPR replaced the Hotel Vancouver with its second incarnation, which was much grander in both capacity and design. The Italian Renaissance style building was passed on to the Canadian Pacific Railway and eventually demolished in 1949.

C.P.R. Station Vancouver on Granville St, 1900. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: S-3-2Hotel Vancouver, 1900. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: Hot P88Dominion Photo Co. photo, Vancouver Public Library VPL 24322.Hotel Vancouver, 1917. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 677-21


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