Banff Springs Hotel

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Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Banff Spring Hotel Alberta Kim Payant 04.jpg
Etymology Nearby thermal springs
Location 405 Spray Avenue, 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
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) Canadian Chateau Style
Governing body Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
Website Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The Banff Springs Hotel is a luxury hotel that was built during the 19th century as one of Canada's grand railway hotels, being constructed in Scottish Baronial style and located in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The hotel was opened to the public on June 1, 1888.[1]

The hotel is located in the Rocky Mountains, just above the Bow Falls, close to thermal springs. The main view from the hotel is across the valley and toward Mount Rundle, which frequently is cited in geology books for its exposed and tilted ancient seabeds. The hotel is within walking distance of the resort community of Banff.

The original building was designed by American architect Bruce Price.[2] It was built between spring 1887 and spring 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway at the instigation of its president, William Cornelius Van Horne.

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 and faced with stone.[3] The new building was designed by another American architect, Walter S. Painter.


Halfway up the internal staircase closest to the Bow Falls is found a 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.

History of renovations[edit]

Banff Springs Hotel, October 1929, with bare hillsides around the hotel at the time: trees later covered those 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. The 1888 structure cost $250,000 and a mistake made by the builder changed the intended orientation of the building, turning its back on the mountain vista. This 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.[3]

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 in 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 the cost of $2 million with 300 guest rooms and, for some time, became the tallest building in Canada. Construction of new wings was delayed by World War I, and the surviving Price wings continued in service.

Further renovations designed by architect, J. W. Orrock, who continued in style originated by Painter, significantly expanded the Painter Tower, altering its roofline, and adding his substantial additions. In 1926, while work was proceeding on the new wings, a fire destroyed the remainder of the original building designed by Price.[3] The two new wings opened in 1928.

In 1968, the building was winterised and has been open year-round since that time.[4]

Ownership and operation[edit]

The Fairmont Banff Springs resort hotel is currently owned by OMERS and operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts of Toronto. Banff Springs Hotel is situated at an altitude of 1414 m.[5]

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. ^ "Building a Dream in the Rockies at Banff". Banff Heritage Tourism. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Hotel History". Fairmont Banff Springs. 
  5. ^ Banff Springs Hotel Altitude and Location

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]