Edmonton's grand Victorian chateau
Perched on the tall banks of Edmonton’s river valley overlooking the tranquil North Saskatchewan River, The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald has been a hallmark of luxury for visitors to Alberta’s capital since 1915.
Originally built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and named for Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, the seven-storey hotel was crafted in the signature château style that characterized many early Canadian railway hotels. Complete with copper roof, the hotel is reminiscent of a 16th-century French castle. It’s no wonder, then, that past guests have included royalty, politicians, and celebrities.
Fairmont Hotel Macdonald’s 199 rooms were completely reconstructed in the 1990s, leaving intact key original features such as the original doorknobs. New specialty suites were added in the attic, including the hotel’s crown jewel, the Queen Elizabeth II Suite, which extends over two floors.
While the hotel brings historical grandeur brought into the modern age, there’s no better place to immerse oneself in the past than in the Confederation Lounge. Enjoy a well-aged Scotch in this turn-of-the-century library-style lounge, presided over by a rare 18-by-nine-foot mural above the fireplace depicting the 1864 Quebec Conference gathering of Canada’s Fathers of Confederation. Painted in 1914 by Frederick S. Challener with oil on unprimed canvas and applied directly to the wall, the mural is one of two copies of the Robert Harris original destroyed by fire in 1916.
Outside, it’s easy for guests to take in the best of Edmonton: both the city’s downtown core and its extensive network of river valley trails are just steps away from the hotel. But there’s no need to venture far afield — the hotel boasts its own gardens and, in the summer months, taking breakfast on the patio is always a highlight.
Even on the chilliest days, though, guests can prepare for a warm greeting from Smudge, Fairmont Hotel Macdonald’s canine ambassador. A friendly Yellow Labrador Retriever originally trained as a guide dog by Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, she has made the transition to a hospitality career and is available for walks upon request.