Hotel Macdonald

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Coordinates: 53°32′25″N 113°29′21″W / 53.54028°N 113.48917°W / 53.54028; -113.48917

The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
The Hotel Macdonald in downtown Edmonton
General information
Location 10065 100th Street
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Opening July 5, 1915
Owner Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
Management Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
Technical details
Floor count 11
Design and construction
Architect Ross and Macdonald
Other information
Number of rooms 199
Number of suites 18
Number of restaurants 2

The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald (generally known as the Hotel Macdonald or The Mac) is a hotel in Edmonton, Alberta. It was built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, and has been successively owned by Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Hotels, and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Construction began in 1911, and was completed in 1915, allowing the hotel to open in July of that year.[1]

The hotel is an Edmonton landmark, and overlooks the North Saskatchewan River Valley, the largest urban parkway in North America. It is one of Canada's chateau-style hotels built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Prior to the construction of the Hotel Macdonald, the site was home to a squatters' camp. The squatters often lived in tents or in small caves dug into the side of the river valley wall, which remain to this day. Local residents nicknamed the site the "Galician Hotel" due to the fact that many of the squatters were Ukrainian-speaking immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia.[2]

Ross and Macdonald, the same architectural firm that designed many of Canada's landmark hotels, designed the hotel in the château-style that characterized Canada's large railway hotels. Construction was completed on July 5, 1915, and the structure was named after Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.[1]

The original seven-story Grand Trunk Pacific hotel was built in a distinctive chateau style adapted from 16th century French castles. The building is faced with Indiana limestone and roofed with copper. Construction and furnishings cost about $2,250,000 (more than $53 million in 2015).[1]

Along with the Palliser Hotel in Calgary, it was one of the first two establishments to be reissued a liquor license by the Alberta Liquor Control Board when the province repealed Prohibition in 1924.

The Hotel Macdonald at night

In 1953, the owners constructed a 300-bedroom, 16-story addition to keep up with the rising demand for hotel accommodations in the city. Together, the hotel and the addition were dubbed "The Mac and the box it came in."[1]

The Hotel MacDonald fell into disrepair and closed in 1983, and there was talk of demolition.[3] The City of Edmonton designated the building as a Municipal Heritage Resource.[4] Five areas were included in the designation: the building exterior, the Confederation Lounge, the lobby, the Wedgewood Room, and the Empire Ballroom. The 1953 addition was demolished in 1986.[1]

Canadian Pacific (CP) Hotels purchased the hotel in 1988, and began a restoration campaign. The hotel reopened in 1991 after work totaling $28 million. The renovation added several suites in what had been storage space, some of which are named for prominent guests of the hotel, including: Charles Melville Hays Suite, Lois Hole Suite, King George VI Suite, Sir Winston Churchill Suite, Edward Prince of Wales Suite, the Aberhart, Manning, and Lougheed suites, and the Queen Elizabeth II Suite (also known as the Royal Suite), which covers 2,400 square feet (220 m2) over two floors, with two bedrooms and a dining room for eight.[5] With the addition of the 18 suites, the hotel now has 199 rooms on 11 floors, and stands a total of 51 metres (167 ft) high.[6]

In 1999, CP Hotels merged with Fairmont Hotels, and began operating the hotel (and all its other hotels) under the Fairmont banner. The chain was later sold, and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts is now owned by Kingdom Holding Company (present / 1 quarter / shared with the government of Qatar and the American company Colony Capital) (Canada).

Ecological Efforts[edit]

The Hotel MacDonald participates in the Wild for Bees campaign along with Burt's Bees, Sustainable.TO Architecture + Building, and Pollinator Partnership, Canada. The four brands have designed and built 20 bee hotels across Canada.[7][8]

Every winter, bees are left without nesting space due to habitat loss and fragmentation. In addition, bees are victims of colony collapse disorder and dangers caused by pesticides and other human encroachments. The purpose of the bee hotels is to provide nesting areas to hundreds of thousands of lost and solitary bees.[7]

One bee hotel is located at the Hotel MacDonald, while six more are located at other Fairmont Hotel properties, including Château Frontenac and Château Laurier.[7]

Canine Ambassador[edit]

The Hotel MacDonald is one of ten Fairmont Hotels that have canine ambassadors on staff. Travelers who miss their own dogs while away from home can take the hotel's dog along for walks and companionship.[9]

The canine ambassador at Hotel MacDonald is a Yellow Lab named Smudge. She was originally trained by Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, but was unable to overcome anxiety and distraction while working, and was unable to complete the program.

Smudge spends her days greeting guests in the lobby, and even has her own Facebook page with thousands of fans.[10] When her workday is done, she goes home with the hotel's general manager to ensure she remains in a stable, loving environment.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Hotel MacDonald History". Hotel MacDonald. Fairmont Hotels. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Theobald, Claire (4 July 2015). "100 years of Hotel Macdonald: High tea, please". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Theobald, Claire (5 July 2015). "100 Edmonton's iconic Hotel Macdonald celebrates centenary". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "MacDonald Hotel" (PDF). Inventory & Register of Historic Resources. City of Edmonton. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Hotel MacDonald Accommodations". Hotel MacDonald. Fairmont Hotels. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "MacDonald Hotel". Emporis. Emporis GMBH. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "Hotel MacDonald Wild for Bees". Hotel MacDonald. Fairmont Hotels. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Wild for Bees". Burt's Bees. Burt's Bees. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "Fairmont's Canine Ambassadors". Fairmont Hotels. Fairmont Hotels. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "Smudge Facebook Page". Facebook. Hotel MacDonald. Retrieved 3 September 2015.