Fairmont Empress Lodge celebrates 115 several years of support in Victoria (Shots)

(Stock illustrations or photos)

From the web-site of the former James Bay to the residence of Winston the pet, the Empress has had a very long, fascinating historical past.

Recognized to numerous as a luxurious stay in the coronary heart of downtown Victoria, the Fairmount Empress is celebrating 115 years of resort company to the public. 

Marked as a National Historic Web-site of Canada, the Fairmont Empress started construction in 1904 with Cornelius Van Horne, normal manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the helm of the illustrious challenge. 

In excess of the a long time, Van Horne experienced opened grand motels along distinctive factors of the railway in an exertion to encourage journey throughout the stretch of the coach route. 

As one of the previous motels on Van Horne’s prolonged record of hospitality tasks, The Fairmont Empress— normally acknowledged as “The Empress” opened in 1908 and in excess of the training course of 115 decades has welcomed an comprehensive checklist of significant profile visitors and functions. 

Its deluxe position was solidified with prestigious visitors these kinds of as Winston Churchill, Bing Crosby, Katherine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand deciding upon to remain although in Victoria. 

In commemoration of this landmark in Victoria, let’s take a excursion down memory lane, recollecting some of the pivotal histories at the Empress. 

1904: William Cornelius Van Horne—general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway—commissioned the development of the Fairmont Empress. 

Van Horne hoped that the lodge would spark travel to Victoria from travellers earning their way along the railroad. Debuting as “The Empress” in 1908, the hotel was a person of the very last that Van Horne ever built.

1910: The lead architect for the Canadian Pacific Railway—William Sutherland Maxwell—started construction on various new wings that doubled the size of The Empress. 

Maxwell was the architect accountable for ending the unique development perform, as the preceding person—Francis Rattenbury—had been fired for producing significant delays.

1919: Edward, Prince of Wales—and the heir to the British throne—attended a gala at the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom. 

Rumour has it Edward danced with a number of far too numerous females that night time, several of which recalled their experience many years later on. 

1928: Heading into the soiled thirties, The Empress was attaining a title for itself as a posh spot for the rich stopping into Victoria for a transient period of time. 

Escalating in acceptance, the Empress commenced a further wave of renovations including extra wings and escalating the number of guestrooms.

1930: Shirley Temple came to stay in the 1930s right after rumoured threats of kidnapping. Her bodyguards stayed in the room across from hers and generally held their doors open up.

1939: King George VI of the United Kingdom and his wife, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, attended a luncheon held in their honor at The Empress. 

The two experienced travelled to Victoria as element of their Royal Tour of Canada. The trip was intended to improve the bonds of friendship in between the United Kingdom and Canada.


1965: Regardless of its prestigious background, The Empress had managed to tumble into a interval of important drop. 

Its declining point out had turn out to be so good that several in the neighborhood regarded demolishing it. 

By 1965 a team of local developers arrived jointly to spend $4 million into its finish rehabilitation. The name of the job endeavour was “Operation Teacup.”

1981: The Canadian Minister of the Setting, John Roberts specified The Empress as a National Historic Web-site of Canada. 

The historic listing by the minister said that the hotel’s superb Châteauesque-design architecture and its outstanding position as a neighborhood cultural symbol as trigger for the recognition.

1989: Costing additional than $45 million to total, the Empress underwent a complete renovation recognised as “The Royal Renovation.”

The design challenge centered on restoring guestrooms and suites inside of The Empress. 

Further renovations observed the development of a wellness club, spa, and reception place. Engineers even learned a tunnel that ran from the harbour all the way to the hotel’s basement.

1999: Canadian Pacific Minimal (CPL) normally takes in excess of the administration of the Empress lodge and various other corporations owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

In undertaking so the CPL rebranded Empress to the Fairmont Empress.

2000: No a lot less than a yr afterwards, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts bought the Fairmont Empress to Legacy Motels REIT for a sum of 120 million Canadian pounds. 

While promoting the lodge, Fairmont retained the legal rights to regulate the business enterprise on Legacy Hotels’ behalf and even obtained a compact ownership stake in the corporation.

2010: After decades given that royalty graced the halls of the Fairmont Empress, Queen Elizabeth II stayed at the lodge as element of their Cross Canada Royal tour.

This would mark the 1st time in heritage that reigning monarchs experienced frequented Victoria and stayed at the Fairmont Empress. 

2014: Ownership legal rights to the Fairmont Empress exchanged palms after additional, this time heading about to the Bosa relatives of Vancouver. 

Upon acquiring the residence, the spouse and children invested $60 million in renovations that sought to protect the building’s rich architectural past.

Fairmont Resorts and Resorts retained its agreement to take care of the day by day functions of the Fairmont Empress, as perfectly.

2017:  The Bosa’s substantial rehabilitation of the Fairmont Empress concluded with a myriad of new services included to the hotel. Between the improvements had been enhancements to the historic accommodations, as effectively as up to date spa and dining amenities. 

2023: The Fairmont Empress celebrates 115 several years of service!

Just after hosting many generations of prestigious attendees and locals in Victoria, what are your fondest memories of the Empress?