The Palliser Hotel

In the late 1850s, Irish geographer John Palliser surveyed the boundary between the United States and Canada between Lake Superior and the Pacific Ocean, exploring many Canadian river valleys along the way. Canadian Pacific named its Calgary hotel, which it opened in 1914, after him. With additions made in 1929, the hotel had (when this booklet was issued) 481 rooms.

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Calgary had just 50,000 residents when the hotel opened, and it had quintupled to 250,000 by the time this booklet was issued in 1961. Since then it has more than quadrupled to more than 1.1 million. Alberta’s oil industry and access to Banff National Park and nearby recreation areas have kept the hotel going for more than a century.

The Saskatchewan Hotel

Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, had less than 50,000 residents when Canadian Pacific built the Saskatchewan Hotel in 1927. That population had doubled by the time this booklet was published in 1960, and it has doubled again since then, but the population of Saskatchewan as a whole has hovered around 950,000 the entire time as people migrated from rural to urban areas.

At 268 rooms, the hotel was little more than half the size of CP hotels in Winnipeg and Calgary, and by 1927 CP had given up on the extra expense of adding chateau-like exteriors to its hotels. But, unlike the hotel in Winnipeg, the Saskatchewan has survived to the present day.

The Royal Alexandra Hotel

Canadian Pacific opened the Royal Alexandra Hotel in Winnipeg in 1906 and expanded it in 1914. Despite not following the chateau style of other CP hotels, the railway proudly proclaimed the Alexandra to be the most luxurious CP hotel yet. That title would last only a couple of years until CP opened the Empress Hotel in Victoria, but the Royal Alexandra was nonetheless the largest hotel between Toronto and Calgary for many years.

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The hotel served as Winnipeg’s chief social center for much of the early 20th century, and its finest suite rented for $1,000 a night. By the time this booklet was issued in 1960, however, the hotel was fading fast. CP closed it in 1967 and the building was demolished in 1971. The hotel’s restaurant was saved and reconstructed at the Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook, British Columbia.

1961 Chateau Lake Louise Lunch Menu

At 8×11 inches, this menu from the Chateau Lake Louise is much larger than yesterday’s dining-car-sized menu, but inside most of the extra size ends up being white space. One side of the menu offers five table d’hôte entrées, while the other side has three “luncheon specials,” with no a la carte section.

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The table d’hôte entrées include haddock duglere (meaning a heavy cream sauce), steak-and-kidney pie, ham and eggs, “creamed chicken, sweetbreads and mushrooms in patty shell,” and a “Lake Louise sandwich plate,” any of which were available for $2.50 (about $15 in today’s money). These came with an appetizer, juice, soup, dessert, and beverage.

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1949 Chateau Lake Louise Dinner Menu

Like the Banff Springs Hotel dinner menus, this one features eight table d’hôte entrées, but unlike the Banff menus, only five of the eight are hot meals. Where the Banff menu had fourteen a la carte entrées (18 with cold plates), this one has just eight (twelve with cold plates). The Lake Louise menu also has fewer desserts.

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The cover shows the Kicking Horse River, just over the Continental Divide from Lake Louise. At the divide, a large sign visible from the train pointed out Divide Creek, which split with one branch joining the Kicking Horse and heading to the Pacific and the other branch turning east and reaching the Bow River and eventually Hudson Bay. I once suspected this was something set up for the tourists by Canadian Pacific engineers, but such creek divides are not unusual, and a similar continental divide creek can be found in Wyoming.

1949 Chateau Lake Louise Lunch Menu

Dated August 27, 1949, this menu has the same exterior format as the Banff Springs Hotel menus dated two days later. The interior seems cheerier and more informal than the Banff menus, but a close examination reveals the main difference is that the type is in an aqua or cyan color rather than black.

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The menu says it was used in the Lake-View Room. I’m not sure if this is what is now known as the Lakeview Lounge or the Fairview Dining Room.

1949 Banff Bow River Valley Menu

Like yesterday’s menu, this one was used in the Alhambra Room of the Banff Springs Hotel. In fact, the interiors of the menus are identical, both being dated August 29, 1949.

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The cover photo shows a magnificent view of the Bow River Valley from one of the hotel terraces, with a “medicinal” hot springs pool in the foreground and the golf course in the background on the right. The golf course remains, but the crescent-shaped pool has been replaced with a smaller rectangular one, though the crescent still exists as shown on the aerial photo below.

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1949 Banff Indian Days Menu

Unlike the previous Indian Days menu, which was used aboard the Mountaineer‘s dining car, this menu is from the Alhambra Room of the Banff Springs Hotel. Today, that room is used as a meeting room rather than a restaurant.

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The menu is only a little more elaborate than a dining car menu of that period. While a 1953 dining car menu had six table d’hôte entrées, the hotel menu has seven. The dining car menu also had 13 a la carte entrées (counting “charcoal broiled salmon, halibut, or lake trout” as three entrées); the hotel menu has fourteen. But the hotel menu has ten desserts plus four kinds of ice cream, while the dining car menu has just four desserts plus one kind of ice cream. A table d’hôte meal with any entrée is $3, about $24 in today’s money.

Map of Banff

The Banff Springs Hotel is just over a mile away from the Canadian Pacific train station in Banff. In between, the town of Banff has numerous tourist shops, restaurants, and outdoor centers. This map shows the town and surrounding environment.

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Trail riding, bus tours, golf, swimming, fishing, boating, tennis, mountain climbing, photography, and dancing are just some of the activities the brochure invites guests to try. The brochure barely mentions the hot springs that first made Banff famous; by 1960, most tourists had better things to do than wallow in hot water.

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