The Fort Garry Hotel
A cherished landmark in the center of downtown Winnipeg, The Fort Garry Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre is a modern blend of Old World elegance and contemporary style. One of Canada’s grand railway resorts, the Fort Garry Hotel is designated a National Historic Site of Canada and was constructed in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. A symbol of the value as a transportation hub, this iconic hotel located only one block from Union Station in Winnipeg is among the city’s most identifiable landmarks, defining the skyline for more than 100 years.
At first, the resort was to be called The Selkirk, but was named after Upper Fort Garry, which stood at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. The hotel was built at a strategic location on Broadway, between Garry and Fort Roads, providing a luxury resort for railway travelers; and was the first commercial building to be erected on Broadway as well as the single hotel to be constructed there.
The resort is broadly considered the finest example of the chateau style of architecture first seen in the brilliant railway resorts built before 1930 across Canada in the city. In fact, architects MacFarlane and Ross of Montreal modeled their initial plans after Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier for the hotel.
The Fort Garry Hotel has welcomed a long list of distinguished guests, including sportsmen, Jack Dempsey, Lester Pearson, Gordie Howe, actors Harry Belafonte, Nelson Eddy, Charles Laughton, Lawrence Olivier, musicians Liberace, Arthur Fiedler and Louis Armstrong. Perhaps, the most famous hotel guests were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who stayed at the resort during their famed 1939 visit to Canada.
The resort, originally owned by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, was afterwards owned by the Canadian National Railway. In 1979, the hotel was purchased by the leading John Draper Perrin family of Winnipeg, who managed it as an independent resort until 1987. It was subsequently owned for a few years by an organization controlled by Quebec hotelier Raymond Malenfant.
Now, following extensive renovations, The Fort Garry has renewed its name for quality and service, re-establishing its place among the grand resorts in Canada. The Fort Garry truly offers an ambiance that covers the historic to modern and does it well. To many in the ‘Peg, The Fort Garry Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre is more than an elegant hotel. It is a vibrant, enduring piece of Winnipeg history and architectural image.
The Fort Garry Hotel is handily located on the most attractive downtown avenue in Winnipeg. This planned location provides easy access to shopping, arts, entertainment, major sports sites, as well as the financial and historic districts. Downtown Winnipeg plays host to festivals and numerous events through the year and boasts one of the most vibrant cultural landscapes in Canada.
Any review on this impressive property would garner an incomplete grade for not mentioning that The Fort Garry is haunted. Yes, haunted! In accordance with local folklore, the resort is indeed haunted, or more specifically room 202. A distraught wife apparently committed suicide after learning of the passing of her husband in an automobile accident. Overcome with despair, she hanged herself in the closet of room 202. While some guests seek out the “supernatural,” this writer stayed in rooms 400, 503 and 410 with nary a ghost sighting.
The staff at The Fort Garry is as impressive as the architecture. Of special note, Natalie makes even a first time visitor feel like a long time guest. The front desk and bell staff are more than happy to offer “local knowledge” and were extremely confident with their dining recommendations. Carbone, The Don Restaurant, Johnny G’s , The Pint, Toad in the Hole Pub and especially V.J.’s Drive Inn did not disappoint!
Round-the-clock amenities including biscotti cookies, coffee, tea and world class spa treatments happily coexist within this iconic century-old architectural gem. Glamorous public spaces are the norm and high-tech (some of the fastest in-room internet we have encountered this year) guest rooms with soaring 10-foot ceilings. In closing, should your travel plans take you to Winnipeg, Manitoba, you owe it to yourself to skip the usual reward point chain hotels and try something haunted, historic and unique. . . The Fort Garry Hotel.