Fairmont Royal York

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Fairmont Royal York
Toronto - ON - Royal York Hotel.jpg
The hotel with Union Station in foreground
Hotel chain Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
General information
Location 100 Front Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5J 1E3
Coordinates 43°38′46″N 79°22′54″W / 43.646133°N 79.381561°W / 43.646133; -79.381561Coordinates: 43°38′46″N 79°22′54″W / 43.646133°N 79.381561°W / 43.646133; -79.381561
Opened 1929
Owner KingSett Real Estate Company (60%)
InnVest Hotels LP (20%)
Ivanhoé Cambridge (20%)
Management Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
Height 124 m (407 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 28
Design and construction
Architect Ross and Macdonald
Sproatt and Rolph
Other information
Number of rooms 1,365
Number of suites Signature Rooms
Executive Suites
One Bedroom Suites
Governor General Suite
Prime Minister's Suite
Royal Suite
Number of restaurants Benihana Japanese Steakhouse
EPIC Restaurant and Lounge
Library Bar
Piper's Gastropub
York's Deli & Bakery
York's Kitchen
York Station
Fairmont Royal York
Built 1929
Built for Canadian Pacific Railway
Original use Hotel
Restored 1988-1993
Governing body City of Toronto
Official name: Union Station Heritage Conservation District
Designated 2006

The Fairmont Royal York, formerly the Royal York, is a large historic hotel in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at 100 Front Street West. Opened on June 11, 1929, the Royal York was designed by Ross and Macdonald (with Sproatt and Rolph) and built by the Canadian Pacific Railway across the street from Toronto Union Station. With 28 floors, the Château-style building was the tallest building in Toronto at that time, and the tallest building in the British Empire until the construction of Canadian Bank of Commerce tower on King Street the following year.

The underground walkways linking the hotel with the Royal Bank Plaza and Union Station form part of the PATH walkway system.


The former Queen's Hotel, which was demolished to make way for the Royal York
Royal York circa 1930
Fairmont Royal York in 2006

The Royal York is the third hotel and one of several establishments to occupy the site.

In 1843, Captain Thomas Dick built the Ontario Terrace at this site.[5] It consisted of four brick houses, and was later occupied by Knox College, a theological school.

Following refurbishment in 1853, the building was renamed the Sword's Hotel, and then the Revere Hotel after a change in ownership in 1860. Thomas Dick bought the hotel back in 1862, renovated it again, and named it Queen's Hotel.[6]

Later, the Queen's Hotel was purchased by Thomas McGaw and Henry Winnett, hoteliers of Upper Canada, who also owned the Queen's Royal Hotel in Niagara on the Lake.[7] Upon McGaw's death in 1901, Winnett acquired McGaw's interests in their hotels. After Winnett died in 1925, his estate sold the Queen's Hotel to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), run by then-president Sir Edward Wentworth Beatty.

Later, Canadian Pacific announced its intention to demolish the Queen's Hotel to build the largest hotel in the British Commonwealth on its site. Prior to its demolition, the Queen's Hotel was billed as "One of the largest and most comfortable hotels in the Dominion of Canada."[8]

Construction on the new hotel began in 1927. The building was completed in 1929, and named the Royal York. It was a state-of-the-art hotel for its time, with ten elevators to reach all twenty-eight floors with radios and private showers and bathtubs in each of its 1,048 rooms. The telephone switchboard was 20 metres (66 ft) long, and required 35 operators. Other facilities included a bank, golf course, and a large Concert Hall outfitted with an impressive Casavant Frères pipe organ.[9] With five manuals and one-hundred-and-seven stops, it was the largest pipe organ in Canada.[9] The new hotel cost $16 million when built.[10]

The building was officially opened on June 11, 1929 by Lord Willingdon in "one of the most glittering social events in Toronto's history".[11] The Toronto Board of Trade hosted a luncheon in the hotel's banquet hall for E.W. Beatty and the board of directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway. After the luncheon, the Governor-General registered as the first guest of the hotel. During the afternoon, guides showed guests around the hotel. The day finished off with an opening ball at 9 PM [12] (with over 2300 people attending [13]). Several politicians and other notable people from the USA and Canada attended the opening of the hotel.[12] The opening of the hotel was front page news in the Montreal Gazette on June 12, 1929.[13] The hotel had 19,800 square feet of Canadian linoleum flooring upon opening.[14]

From 1930 to 1936, a radio station operated from the hotel. Its call letters were CPRY (for “Canadian Pacific Royal York”). Broadcasting from the Imperial Room, CPRY programs were heard across the country.[15][16]

The hotel was enlarged during 1956-57, with the addition of the east wing which increased the total rooms to 1,600.[5]

The hotel underwent an extensive renovation program in 1972 and 1973 to modernize its image. Called the Royal York Revelation, the program was overseen by the architects Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden (who also designed the Royal Bank plaza next to the hotel). The renovation cut a hole in the main-floor lobby for a spiral staircase, covered the marble pillars in the lobby with wood panelling, hung modern wall lamps and a chandelier and replaced rugs with carpet.[16]

From 1988 until 1993, the Royal York underwent a $100-million restoration that restored the hotel's original elegance. Guest rooms and public spaces were refurbished, while new amenities were added, including: a health club, a lap pool, and the first-ever American Express Travel Service Centre. As of 2015 the hotel has six restaurants.[17]

One of the hotel's larger features was the Imperial Room, a nightclub that attracted top musicians between the 1940s to the 1990s, including Marlene Dietrich, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Ray Charles, Liberace, and Tina Turner.[18] The Imperial Room closed during the major renovation of the 1990s, and it was refurbished to become a large ballroom and meeting hall.[19]

On October 28, 2014, it was announced the hotel would undergo another round of renovations following a reorganization of its ownership.[20]


The hotel has been the residence of choice for Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Canadian Royal Family when in Toronto. The Queen usually has an entire floor reserved for her and her entourage, occupying the Royal Suite herself.[5]

The hotel is recognized as part of the Union Station Heritage Conservation District (Designated Part V) under the Ontario Heritage Act enacted by Toronto City Council on July 27, 2006.[21]

Honey bees[edit]

In June 2008, the Royal York installed three beehives on its fourteenth-floor rooftop terrace to serve its in-house garden, which provides its restaurants with fresh herbs, vegetables, and flowers.[22] Approximately 350,000 honey bees provide several hundred pounds of honey each year, including 800 pounds (360 kg) in 2011.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fairmont Royal York at Emporis
  2. ^ Fairmont Royal York at Glass Steel and Stone
  3. ^ "Fairmont Royal York". SkyscraperPage. 
  4. ^ Fairmont Royal York at Structurae
  5. ^ a b c Royal York Hotel History
  6. ^ Filey, Mike (2001). A Toronto Album: Glimpses of the City that Was (2nd ed.). Dundurn Press. p. 17. ISBN 0-88882-242-1. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Appleton, D. (1898). Appleton's General Guide to the United States and Canada. D. Appleton and Company. p. 28. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "The Queen's Hotel". The Independent. 6 July 1914. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Marks, Christopher. "Royal York Hotel Concert Hall". Pipe Organ Database. Organ Historical Society. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "C.P.R.'s Latest Achievement" (PDF). Barrie Examiner. Barrie, Ontario. June 20, 1929. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Toronto Feature: Royal York Hotel". thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Governor-General to officially open Royal York Hotel". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. June 11, 1929. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Largest hotel in Empire open in Toronto city". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. June 12, 1929. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  14. ^ "For the Royal York". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. June 12, 1929. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  15. ^ "A Behind-the-scenes Look at the Royal York Hotel". travelandtransitions.com. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  16. ^ a b "The Royal York Hotel" (PDF) (Press release). Ontario Heritage Trust. May 2004. Retrieved 2016-12-10. 
  17. ^ "Fairmont Royal York Dining". Fairmont Royal York. Fairmont Hotels. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  18. ^ Teotonio, Isabel (31 July 2013). "Louis Jannetta was Toronto's maitre d' to the stars". Toronto Star. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  19. ^ "Fairmont Royal York Function Rooms". Fairmont Royal York. Fairmont Hotels. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  20. ^ "Royal York Hotel to get new owners". CP24.COM. 2014-10-28. Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  21. ^ "Heritage Property Detail". City of Toronto. 2015. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  22. ^ Sibonney, Claire (8 July 2008). "Toronto hotel boasts own honey from rooftop hives". Reuters. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  23. ^ "Fairmont's Bee Sustainable Program". Fairmont Hotels. Fairmont Hotels. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 

External links[edit]