Banff Springs Hotel

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Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Banff Spring Hotel Alberta Kim Payant 04.jpg
Etymology Nearby thermal springs
Location Banff National Park, Banff, Western Alberta, Alberta, Canada
Coordinates 51°09′52″N 115°33′43″W / 51.16444°N 115.56194°W / 51.16444; -115.56194Coordinates: 51°09′52″N 115°33′43″W / 51.16444°N 115.56194°W / 51.16444; -115.56194
Elevation 1,415 metres (4,642 ft)
Founded 1887
Founder William Cornelius Van Horne
Built 1888 (original hotel); 1928 (present hotel core)
Original use Canadian railway hotel
Architect Bruce Price (original hotel); Walter S. Painter (present hotel core)
Architectural style(s) Scottish Baronial
Governing body Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
Website Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The Banff Springs Hotel is a luxury hotel built during the 19th century as one of Canada's grand railway hotels. It was constructed in Scottish Baronial style, and is located in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The hotel opened to the public on June 1, 1888.[1] Presently, The Fairmont Banff Springs resort hotel is owned by Oxford Properties, the real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, or OMERS, and is operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts of Toronto. Banff Springs Hotel sits at an altitude of 1,415 metres (4,642 ft)[2] It's just one of a handful of mountain resorts located in the beautiful wilderness of Canada. [3]

The hotel is located within a spectacular setting in the Rocky Mountains, just above the Bow Falls, close to thermal springs. The main view from the hotel looks across the valley, toward Mount Rundle, the sloping side of which was once sea floor, and is now known for its ancient, exposed seabeds. [4] The hotel is within walking distance of the resort community of Banff.


The original building was designed by American architect Bruce Price.[5] It was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway at the instigation of its president, William Cornelius Van Horne. Construction began in the spring of 1887, and was completed in the spring of 1888.

Starting in 1911, a wholly new structure was built in stages to replace the 1888 hotel. Price's Shingle style-influenced wooden structure was replaced with a new building of concrete faced with stone.[6] The new building was designed by another American architect, Walter S. Painter.

The current hotel was completed in 1914. It stands at a height of 59.5 metres (195 ft), and contains 15 floors and 23 elevators. [7]

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel offers 764 guest rooms and suites, many with views of the majestic Rocky Mountains. [8] Guests have no fewer than 13 restaurants, bars and lounges to choose from, offering a variety of dining options, from sushi, to pub food, to weekend brunch. The 1888 Chop House provides a luxury dining experience with a modern twist on the authentic chop house. [9] Guests can also take advantage of the on-site wine store, filled with numerous local wines, and hosting daily wine tastings. [10]

History of renovations[edit]

Banff Springs Hotel, October 1929 - note the bare hillsides around the hotel at the time, trees would later cover these slopes

The original building was quite different from the present Banff Springs structure. Variously termed a "Tudor hall" or a "Swiss chalet," the Price building was clad in shingles with stone accents, and featured a profusion of dormers, turrets, and roof lines. [11] The 1888 structure cost $250,000 to build, and a mistake made by the builder changed the intended orientation of the building, turning its back on the mountain vista. This original building included more than 100 bedrooms, centered on a five-story, octagonal rotunda. An addition in 1902 expanded and renovated the building, adding more than 200 rooms. Further additions followed.[6]

By 1906, plans were advanced for a complete overhaul of the Banff Springs Hotel building, proposing a replacement of much of the original structure. Walter Painter, chief architect for Canadian Pacific Railway, designed an eleven-story central tower of concrete and stone, flanked by two wings. This time correctly oriented to the dramatic view, the so-called "Painter Tower" was completed in 1914 at a cost of $2 million with 300 guest rooms and, for some time, was the tallest building in Canada. Construction of new wings was delayed by World War I, and the surviving Price wings continued in service.

In 1926, while work was proceeding on the new wings, a fire destroyed the remainder of the original building designed by Price.[6] Further renovations to replace the destroyed building were designed by architect, J. W. Orrock, who continued in the style originated by Painter, greatly expanding the Painter Tower, altering its roof line, and adding his own massive alterations. [12] The two new wings opened in 1928.

In 1968, the building was winterized, and has been open year-round since.[13]


Halfway up the internal staircase closest to the Bow Falls hangs a noted painting of William Davidson felling trees on the Miramichi River during colonial times. Davidson, who had grown up in Moray, close to Banff, Scotland, was the first European settler in that area of Canada. The name borne by the Canadian city and the national park is derived from his native country. The painting of the pioneer is by the war artist Cyrus Cuneo (1879–1916), who executed a series of paintings for the Canadian Pacific Railway, the original builder of the Banff Springs Hotel. [14]


Banff Springs Hotel is reportedly haunted. Stories suggest a woman dressed in her wedding gown lost her life on the staircase. The bride was walking up the staircase, which was lined with candles, when suddenly, her dress caught fire. In a panic, she tripped and fell down the stairs, and died from a broken neck. Many people have reported seeing her ghost in full wedding gown, often dancing in the ballroom [15]

In addition, a family was allegedly murdered in room 873, the door of which is now bricked up and made to look like part of the surrounding walls. Guests have reported seeing apparitions come out of the room. [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (February 2007). "History of the Fairmont Banff Springs". Archived from the original on 14 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  2. ^ Banff Springs Hotel Altitude and Location
  3. ^ "Fairmont Banff Springs Mountain Resorts". Fairmont Banff Springs. Fairmont Banff Springs. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  4. ^ "The Ancient Ones". Postmedia Network, Inc. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Building a Dream in the Rockies at Banff". Banff Heritage Tourism. 
  6. ^ a b c Barnes, Christine (1999). Great Lodges of the Canadian Rockies. Bend, Oregon: W.W. West. pp. 21–26. ISBN 0-9653924-2-2. 
  7. ^ "The Fairmont Banff Springs". Emporis. Emporis. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Fairmont Banff Springs". Fairmont Banff Springs. Fairmont Banff Springs. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "1888 Chop House". 1888 Chop House. Fairmont Banff Springs. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  10. ^ "Authentically Local Wine Store". Fairmont Banff Springs. Fairmont Banff Springs. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "Banff Springs Hotel". Images Canada. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  12. ^ "Banff Springs Hotel National Historic Site of Canada". Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  13. ^ "Hotel History". Fairmont Banff Springs. 
  14. ^ "Cyrus Cincinnatti Cuneo (Terence's Father)". Terence Cuneo. Carole Cuneo. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  15. ^ "Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada". Haunted Rooms. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  16. ^ "Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada". Haunted Rooms. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  1. ^ "Whitecap Books". Whitecap Books. Whitecap Books. Retrieved 17 August 2015.