Chateau Frontenac in Old Québec

Built in 1893, the Chateau Frontenac pioneered the chateau-style of architecture that came to characterize so many of Canadian Pacific’s and Canadian National’s grand railway hotels. The original hotel in Québec City was designed by Bruce Price, who had also designed the original, wooden Banff Springs Hotel that CP later replaced with a stone-and-concrete structure by architect Walter Painter.

Click image to download a 13.6-MB PDF of this 16-page booklet.

While Price is best known today for his wood, shingle style buildings, his Chateau Frontenac was a more conventional brick building made special by the dozens of rooftop towers and gables. Windsor Station, which Price also designed as both Montreal’s train station and Canadian Pacific’s headquarters, was built of limestone, showing that Price was equally adept at using many building materials.

The Chateau Frontenac as originally designed by Bruce Price. Click image to download a 0.4-MB PDF of this 1907 postcard.

In 1924, CP expanded the hotel with a new wing and central tower designed by William Sutherland Maxwell, who also designed CP hotels in Winnipeg and Calgary. Though the new tower could have overpowered Price’s building, Maxwell’s use of the chateau style allowed it to fit right in. Today, the chateau has more than 600 guest rooms and remains one of Canada’s premiere hotels.

The Chateau Frontenac with Maxwell’s additions. Click image to download a 0.4-MB PDF of this 1947 postcard, whose sender reports that the hotel is “just as grand as I thought it would be.”

Located on the River St. Lawrence, the hotel has been the subject of numerous paintings including the one on the cover of this booklet. Unfortunately, there’s no clue in the brochure about who did the cover painting. The postcard below, however, was painted by someone named Gordon F. Gillespie, who may have worked for Canadian Pacific or, more likely, simply sold several paintings to CPR in the 1920s.

Click image to download a 250-KB PDF of this postcard.

Most of the interior pages of the brochure are printed in blue and green, with 32 blue-and-white photos illustrating scenes in and around Québec City. The back cover features five black-and-white photos, but because the front cover has a four-color illustration, the back cover and inside covers are highlighted with magenta and cyan. Given the state of printing technology in 1950, CP missed a bet in not including four-color photos on at least the back cover if not the inside covers.


Chateau Frontenac in Old Québec — 1 Comment

  1. I wonder why they chose to show two pictures of what appears to be the same US Navy Cleveland class light cruiser (although it’s misidentified as a battleship on page twelve)? The Royal Canadian Navy (it was still “Royal” in 1950) had two cruisers then, so why not arrange a shot with your own navy’s cruiser? I guess Canadians weren’t as touchy about US relations in 1950. I know one thing, I want that quilt with the moose on it. It would look perfect in the fishing lodge…if I had one. 🙂


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