Banff Springs Hotel National Historic Site of Canada
Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
General view of the Banff Springs Hotel
(© Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada)
Spray Avenue, Banff, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1911 to 1928
1911 to 1914
1927 to 1928
Event, Person, Organization:
Canadian Pacific Railway
Walter S. Painter
Banff Springs Hotel
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Spray Avenue, Alberta
This hotel is among the largest and most renowned of the fashionable resort hotels established along railway and steamship routes in Canada during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in stages between 1911 and 1928, the hotel developed an international reputation for excellence as a vacation retreat and became a symbol of the significance of tourism in the Canadian Rockies. Its striking natural setting, Château-style design and lavish interior decor appealed to a wealthy clientele seeking a wilderness experience in opulent surroundings.
Description of Historic Place
The Banff Springs Hotel is a large, Chateau-style hotel, built between 1911 and 1928. It is picturesquely situated at the foot of Sulphur Mountain in the town of Banff, within Banff National Park. The formal recognition consists of the building on its legal property at the time of recognition.
The Banff Springs Hotel was designated a national historic site in 1988 because it is a leading Canadian example of a large-scale, resort hotel in a natural setting.
The Banff Springs Hotel is one of the largest and most renowned of the resort hotels established by Canadian railway companies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to encourage tourists to travel their transcontinental routes. The hotel developed an international reputation for excellence as a vacation retreat and became a symbol of tourism in the Canadian Rockies. Its striking natural setting, Chateau-style design and lavish interior decor appealed to a wealthy clientele seeking a wilderness experience in opulent surroundings.
Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), the Banff Springs Hotel includes an eleven-storey tower designed by Walter S. Painter, added in 1911-14 to an earlier wooden structure, the main block of the hotel, designed by J.W. Orrock, added in 1927-8 to replace the wooden structure destroyed by fire, and various sympathetic additions added since 1969. Architecturally, the Banff Springs Hotel differs from other railway hotels in its more restrained use of the Chateau-style vocabulary, and a greater reliance on Arts-and-Crafts finishes and forms, such as rough stone masonry and rounded gables.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minute, June 1988.
Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Banff Springs Hotel include: elements which typify Chateau-style railway hotels, including its massive scale, steeply pitched copper roofs broken by towers, dormers and gables, high-quality materials, and dramatic setting; its restrained Chateaux-style design with its symmetrical design, picturesque roofline with shed-roofed dormers, round arches, two-tiered gable motif, and absence of Gothic detailing; its steel and concrete construction; its cladding in hard, dark, local limestone (Rundle Stone); its large, public spaces, including the original entry porch, the swimming pool deck and its overlooking terrace, the garden terrace, the original main entry lobby, Mount Stephen Hall, Riverview Lounge, the "Spanish Walk," the Alberta Dining Room, the Alhambra Dining Room, the Cascade Ball Room, the Conservatory with evidence of their original volumes and decorative motifs; the distinctive decor of its interior spaces, including ornamental metal grillwork, plaster beamed or vaulted ceilings with decorative scrollwork, extensive use of carved Tyndall stone, the Bedford flagstone floor and decorative coats of arms in the Mount Stephen Hall, and the arched, plate-glass windows and fireplace of the Riverview Lounge; viewscapes of the Bow River, Tunnel Mountain, Mount Rundle and the distant Fairholme range, visible from the hotel's interior and from its exterior terraces; viewscapes of the hotel against its forested backdrop of steep mountain slopes, as seen along the valley of the Spray River, and from the scenic road up Tunnel Mountain.