Trains to the Mountains

Once the railways connected to the west of Canada the expansion of Railway Hotels continued. To encourage rail travel CPR built two summer only Hotels in the Canadian Rockies. The original Banff Springs Hotel opened in 1888. It was a wooden structure built 1414 metres above sea level. The attraction of a mountain vacation along with the Banff Sulphur Hot Springs brought summer tourists from all over. And you got there by train. 

In 1914  the tower was added and in 1928 the centre block was completed to replace the original wood building which burned in a 1926 fire. The exterior design was inspired by the Chateaus in France’s  Loire Valley. Hence the copper roofs, gables and dormers. The interiors feature Oak Beams & panelling and Terrazzo floors. There are 764 rooms and 12 restaurants. Originally open only in summer ( it was built long before the popularization of skiing) the hotel was winterized in 1968 to become a year round destination. Several renovations have been done over the years. Amenities include a bowling alley and a 27 hole Golf Course. It is a National Heritage Site. 

Although we have visited the Banff Springs  several time my only stay was during a National  OR Nurses meeting years ago. Fairmont Hotels manages the property but it is owned by Oxford Properties. 

The other CPR built Mountain Railway Hotel is, of course, Chateau Lake Louise,  just 59 kilometres from the Banff Springs. This 539 room hotel was built on the eastern shore of Lake Louise and opened in 1890. Since then there have been several renovations and additions the most recent being the Mt Temple Wing in 2004. In 1982 the hotel was winterized and now operates all year catering in the winter to skiers and other winter sport fans. The hotel is a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE.  

About 30 years ago, after spending Christmas with family in Edmonton, both families  drove  to Lake Louise to celebrate New Years. It was wonderful. Skating on the lake, skiing at the nearby ski hill, fireworks over the lake, and some wonderful food too. Great memories. 

Chateau Lake Louise is a most unique destination.  Operated by Fairmont, owned by Oxford Properties. 

About 235 kilometres north of Louise is Jasper Park Lodge. Originally it was  a tent city in 1915 owned by the Grand Trunk Railway.  But by 1920 it was a CNR property. 8 cottages were built in 1921. Two years later the main lodge was finished and was considered the largest log building in the world. The lodge burned down in 1952 but was quickly replaced with the present day building. CPR acquired the lodge in 1988. 

There are 446 rooms  including the cabins and five restaurants. There have been multiple renovations most recently a $16 million redo in 2016. 

I had the pleasure of staying here at another national OR Nurses meeting during which we stayed in one of the charming log cabins. Very luxurious cabins.  Jasper Park Lodge is truly a unique property. Spacious grounds, charming buildings. Managed by Fairmont and also owned by Oxford Properties. Oxford is a division of OMERS, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. 

So there you have it. Three spectacular Railway Hotels in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.  If you are close please visit them. 

Just saying…

2 thoughts on “Trains to the Mountains

  1. Wow! Really interesting information. I think I have stayed in every one of the CPR hotels. Chateau Frontenac, The Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal. The Royal York in Toronto, The Fort Garry in Winnipeg, The Bessborough in Saskatoon, all three in Alberta and the Hotel Vancouver in Vancouver and The Empress in Victoria.



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