Train travel was both glamorous and well known in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Canada. Additionally, a crucial part of the experience had to do with staying in large luxury hotels on the rail lines constructed in a chateau-style that was similar to a mix of French and Scottish castles. The beauty of these hotels lives on till date through remarkable landscapes like the Fairmont Banff Springs.
To understand how crucial these hotels are, it is essential to look briefly into the history of the Canadian railway. When the Canadian Pacific Railway was constructed in 1885, it brought the world to this land filled with incredible landscapes both as new immigrants and tourists.
It became the job of the CPR to ensure Canada was populated all along the new rail lines perhaps due to their financial motive. A department for immigration was established with offices in Great Britain and Europe. Posters and pamphlets were created in diverse languages and shared everywhere.
Canada was also showcased overseas as a destination to go on holidays with an emphasis on fishing and hunting as well as remarkable mountains. It wasn’t a typical idea to see mountains as beautiful locations to be observed as tourist attractions, and they were usually seen as settlement obstacles.
Most of this was made possible by the president of the railway company named William Cornelius Van Horne. Who was initially hired as a general manager before he got a promotion. When Banff springs which the latest railway hotel of the company which was styled was based on a Baronial Castle was open in June 1888, Von Horne made a request to the federal government that the surrounding areas be transformed into a national park. It was due to this that inquisitive tourists started to flock the area. He also asked that additional parks should be established along the rail lines to the mountains of Alberta.
He had already started to imagine grand hotels around the country, which would draw in a consistent amount of visitors from outside the country. The Canadian Government listened to his request and created the Banff National Park in 1885 which has now become a Heritage Site of UNESCO accompanied by Yoho and Glacier National Parks.
The Windsor hotel in Montreal which was the first grand railway hotel in Canada began operation in 1878 beside the main station of Montreal was not owned or controlled by a railway company. The initial grand hotel CPR that was established was in 1888 known as the Hotel Vancouver.