The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald has long been known as Edmonton's most elegant hotel and is lovingly referred to as 'The Mac.' After four years of construction, the hotel, named after Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, opened its doors on July 05, 1915 and was destined to become the center of Edmonton's social life.
Situated high on the bank overlooking the North Saskatchewan River valley, the seven-story Grand Trunk Pacific Hotel (faced with Indiana limestone and roofed with copper) was built and furnished at a cost of about $2,250,000 (over $35 million today). The characteristic Chateau style, an adaptation of French 16th Century castles, was first brought to Canada in 1892.
In 1953, a 16-story, 300-bedroom addition was built to meet the pressing need for more rooms and convention facilities. The very marked change in architecture from the original Chateau-style of 1915 caused Edmontonians to refer to the addition as 'The Mac and the box it came in.' The addition was demolished in 1986.
After more than half a century of glamour, The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald closed its doors in 1983 after the Universiade Games, as it had fallen into a state of disrepair. On January 08, 1985, the City of Edmonton designated the hotel as a Municipal Heritage Resource (and thereby saving it from the wrecking ball!) and was the first building in Edmonton to receive this special designation. Five heritage areas are included in the designation: The building exterior, the Confederation Lounge, the Lobby, the Wedgwood Room, and the Empire Ballroom.
Over the next several years, the owners debated how (and if) the hotel should be developed. Canadian Pacific Hotels came to the rescue in 1988 when it bought the chain of CN hotel properties. A total commitment was made to restore The Hotel Macdonald to its former elegance and to re-establish its importance in the community. In 1999, Canadian Pacific Hotels merged with Fairmont Hotels to create the largest luxury hotel management company in North America - Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
Restored, The Hotel Macdonald, exuding a feeling of Victorian elegance, re-opened its doors to the public on May 15, 1991. The hotel boasted every modern convenience while preserving its heritage detailing.
During the restoration, a number of specialty suites were constructed in what had once been the attic of the hotel. These suites feature turret spaces and breathtaking views of the city and the river valley. The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald's grandest suite, the Royal Suite, is built on two levels and includes a large foyer, dining room, service pantry, two bedrooms, two and one-half bathrooms, and spacious living room. Guests staying in this grand suite have space to entertain up to 50 people.
The guestrooms throughout the hotel were also completely reconstructed during the restoration. Paying homage to its roots, the door knobs of the guestroom closets are original -- complete with the Grand Trunk Rail monogram. With only 198 rooms in total, this 'new' hotel became Fairmont Hotels & Resorts boutique chateau-style hotel.
Over the years, 'The Mac' has proudly hosted visitors from all walks of life, including the many American soldiers stationed here during World War II. The royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother) in 1939 caused throngs of well-wishers to gather below the main balcony in hopes of a glance (and creating Edmonton's first traffic jam).
Since its re-opening, the hotel has hosted many dignitaries and celebrities including royalty, political leaders, and entertainers. Now it's your turn!
The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald -- Edmonton's Place for Every Occasion.
McLeod Building, Edmonton (Designated a Provincial Historic Resource on January 3, 1995)
Historical Summary: Kenneth McLeod, a former Edmonton alderman, contractor and real estate speculator, announced the construction of the McLeod Building in 1912, claiming it would be the highest in the city, 25 feet taller than the Tegler. Construction of the nine-storey structure began in 1913 and was completed in 1915. Twelve hundred tons of steel was required mainly because McLeod ordered footings to be 11 square feet, large enough for a 50-storey building. It was also the first building in Edmonton to be wired with conduit. The contractors of the $600,000 building were Olsen and Johnson, and the steel contractors were McPhee and Nicodemus. With the Polson Building in Spokane, Washington as the model, McLeod commissioned the architect, John K. Dow to build a duplicate in Edmonton
The McLeod Building is regarded as Alberta’s best remaining example of an architectural style for commercial buildings known as the “Chicago School” which was developed in Chicago at the turn of the century by architects such as Louis Sullivan, Holabird and Roche, William Jenny, and Burnham and Root. Chicago School features include the massing and stressed verticality, heavy overhanging cornice, the use of terra cotta on the exterior (rare in Edmonton and Alberta), and the three-part division into the ground floor, intermediate floors, and top floor with cornice. Despite this modernity, many details such as the balconet over the entry, window keystones, colored tiles, entablature with heavy modillions and classical ornamentation along the cornice edge, reflect Edwardian classicism.
The Tegler Building was built in 1911 by Edmonton entrepreneur and philanthropist, Robert Tegler. Designed by H. A. Magoon, the Tegler Building was known to be one of the earliest reinforced concrete buildings in Alberta, and the first fireproof office building in Edmonton. The stone used for its construction was quarried from a rock coulee near Fort MacLeod. An eight-storey addition was constructed in 1913 to accommodate the expansion of James Ramsey`s department store, which remained here until 1929. The Tegler Building is clad in red brick and white stone, with the entablature and other detailing of pressed tin. Primarily Classical in its detailing, it is representative of the transition to the Sullivanesque modern era and achieves a balance in horizontals and verticals. Some of the Classical detailing includes corner quoins, pilasters, and a two-storey balcony with engaged Ionic columns and a balustrade which accents the upper floors.
link to video of demolition in 1982