Ottawa – Château Laurier

The Château Laurier is the first in a series of spectacular hotels built across the country to connect people. These luxurious hotels, commissioned by the railway company Grand Trunk, were erected on exceptional sites in the early 20th century and connected the major Trans-Canada train stations. The castle style gave a certain romanticism and a prestigious element to those who chose them.

The Château Laurier was built between 1909 and 1912 in front of Union Station in downtown Ottawa and close to Parliament Hill. The style of the Château harmonizes well with the parliament. Several dignitaries, politicians, and artists stayed there for its proximity to the city center and the guarantee of quality associated with its reputation. It is within the walls of the hotel that the politicians met the day after the great 1916 fire of the parliament to determine the plan of action.

The Chateau is near the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River. The construction of this establishment was sponsored by the Grand Trunk Railway Company, whose president was Mr. Charles Melville Hays. Unfortunately, Mr. Hays could not participate in the April 1912 inauguration because he and other members of his family were among the victims of the Titanic. The inauguration of the hotel and the station took place on June 12, 1912, with the presence of the Prime Minister at the time, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The latter facilitated the development by bequeathing a parcel of land to Major’s Hill Park. For his participation, the Château bears his name.

Although there has been no rail service to the station since 1966, the hotel has remained firmly in place.

Between 1924 and 2004, the 7th floor was occupied by the Société de Radio-Canada (A Canadian radio and television). Also, from 1973 to 1992, the photographer, Yousuf Karsh, had taken up residence on the 6th floor.

An unexpected event took place within the walls of the Château just a few months ago. In one of the rooms, it was noticed, several months after the events, that the original photograph of Sir Winston Churchill taken by Yousuf Karsh was stolen and replaced by a rigorous copy probably during the holiday season of 2021-2022. This discovery was destabilizing and made the headlines in the country.

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