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Palliser HotelPalliser Hotel

133 9th Avenue S.W.

Built: 1911 - 1914




Original cost

Original owner


Construction materials

Architectural style

Original interior details

Historical highlights




E. and W.S. Maxwell of Montreal.


Original cost: $1,500,000



P. Lyall and Sons Construction Company. Western Manager - H.A. Singley. Local superintendent of construction was Sanford N. Mapes.


Original owner:

Canadian Pacific Railway.


Architectural style:

Classical features. Design similar to New York's Plaza Hotel rather than the French Chateau Style hotels built by the CPR in other Canadian cities. The eight storey (plus a lower basement level) Palliser was built in an E shaped plan with three individual towers. It featured a flat roof and substantial cornices. Classical features included engaged Ionic columns and radiating voussoirs over the round - headed windows flanking the main 9th Avenue entrance. A French - styled Mansard roof appeared on the original plans but was never built.


Construction materials:

Stone, steel, reinforced concrete and brick.


Original interior details:

Moulded ceilings, marble columns and floors, fine oak woodwork, hand made rugs and tapestries. Original art from Montreal art dealers W. Scott and Sons. Roof garden and sun parlour, dining room, palm court (to the left of the main entrance), ball room, ladies' drawing room, gentlemen's smoking room and 350 suites in the upper floors. Each suite featured Canadian made furnishings, a mahogany door, brass bed, hot and cold running water and an outside window. The Western Standard newspaper of June 20, 1914 described the elegant new hotel in detail. " The floor of the rotunda, vestibule, entrance hall and elevator hall is of grey Tennessee marble, and the columns that support the roof are finished in Botticino marble, with sylvan green marble for the bases. The entire ground floor with the exception of the dining room and ladies' drawing room, is fitted in fumed oak." The bar room, with its oak beams, stained glass windows, and coats of arms carved into heavy columns had the air of a baronial hall. Basement included a barbershop, complete with porcelain manicure tables, a brick wall oven for baking fresh bread, ten sample rooms, a wine cellar, ice room and a baggage room connected to the railway station.


Historical highlights:

  • Excavation for the new hotel began May 12, 1911 on CPR property which had been the site of the railway garden and bandstand. The location of the hotel next to the railway station at the hub of the city was no accident as most hotel guests travelled by train.
  • On March 1st 1912 a local paper announced "Plans for the New CPR Hotel Arrive."
  • The Hudson's Bay Store and the Palliser were the most costly commercial buildings erected in Calgary during the boom years.
  • During construction Calgarians referred to the hotel as " the Canadian Pacific Railway, Calgary Hotel". The local newspaper asked readers to submit ideas for naming the new hotel. Suggestions included the Adanac, Great Western, Golden West, Pride of the West, Royal Northwestern, Shaughden, Crowfoot, Piedmont, Swastika and Royal Mary.
  • The name Palliser was selected in commemoration of Captain John Palliser, leader of the famed British expedition responsible for exploring Western Canada between 1857 and 1860. Members of the expedition collected astronomical, meteorological, geological and magnetic data, described the flora and fauna, the inhabitants and the suitability of the country for settlement and transportation.
  • Hotel popularly known as the "Castle by the Tracks".
  • When the Palliser opened about 11 months behind schedule in June 1914 there were 300 employees. The Chief Steward reported that the supplies included 12,612 sheets, 6,000 pillow cases, 9,600 quilts, 15,00 blankets, 2,000 tablecloths, 8,400 serviettes and 13,200 plates.
  • 1929 - three floors and a penthouse were added, making it the tallest building in Calgary at the time. Tudor, Spanish and Italian decor was featured in some of the 492 suites. Rooms were $4.50 a night. Complete lunch was $1.00 and dinner $1.50.
  • Home to social and service club functions, dining, dancing, teas, supper dances.
  • Palliser hosted Annual Old Time Range Men's Dinner between 1929 and 1993. The first dinner held July 9, 1919 was attended by 57 "old time cow men". Only those men who had worked on a round - up wagon prior to 1900 qualified for the spread put on by CPR.
  • 1930 - dinner honouring the "Famous Five."
  • During the 1930s the big band sound of the Jerry Fuller Orchestra was broadcast live on national radio from the Hotel's ballroom.
  • Temporary home to politicians, movie stars and royalty including the Prince of Wales who later abdicated the throne to marry Mrs. Simpson, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Don Johnson, Bill Crosby and famous Danish explorer, Roald Amundsen.
  • Some folks just moved in and stayed. Calgarian R.B. Bennett who eventually became Prime Minister of Canada lived in room 760.
  • Between the 1940s and 1960s the Palliser's New Year's Eve Ball was the city's major social event.
  • 1962 - 1965 - $2.5 million renovation. The interior was "modernized". Ceilings lowered, air conditioning installed, 475 suites updated and a new dining area and bar, the Rimrock Room and the Big Top Lounge opened.
  • 1970s and 1980s - Millions of dollars spent restoring the hotel to its original splendour. Earlier renovations were dismantled and the lobby, lower level guest rooms and other public areas restored in Renaissance Revival style.
  • Chosen to host Olympic VIPs during the XV Olympic Winter Games (1988) held in Calgary.
  • A gala Charity Ball was held in May 1989 to celebrate the Palliser's 75th Anniversary.



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© Calgary Public Library.July 21, 2005