Hotel Vancouver

1887 - current

The Canadian Pacific Railway built their first Hotel Vancouver in 1887. It was a five-storey brick and stone structure. The railway later built a much larger hotel on the corner of Georgia and Granville in downtown Vancouver, designed by Francis Swales.This hotel was finally demolished in the late 1940s, about ten years after the current Hotel Vancouver was completed at Georgia and Burrard in time for the Royal visit in 1939.

The hotel at Georgia and Granville hosted some of the earliest art exhibitions in Vancouver, as there were very few other places to exhibit in Vancouver at that time. Artists known to have exhibited in that hotel include John Innes in 1915 and John Vanderpant in 1925. In 1929 the hotel hosted the first annual Beaux Arts Ball, sponsored and organized by the students of the newly formed Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts.

The CPR hired a number of Vancouver artists to provide sculptures, murals, panels, and paintings for the current hotel, completed in 1939. It was an excellent opportunity for local artists to complete major commissions. Artists known to have done work for this iteration of the hotel include Olea Marion Montgomery Davis, Lilias Farley, Beatrice Lennie, J.W.G. Macdonald, R.S. Alexander, and Valentin Shabaeff.

Detail, bas-relief in lobby of Hotel Vancouver, photo Stuart Thomson.

Unfortunately, later renovations to the hotel covered over many of the original artworks in the main floor lobby, particularly relief panels by Beatrice Lennie, which are considered by many to be one of Vancouver's most famous "lost" artworks. The panels may actually still be in place, hidden behind the new facade. Perhaps a future renovation will uncover them again.


BUILDING THE WEST - Early Architects of British Columbia
      2003; Edited by Donald Luxton, numerous contributing authors and researchers
      Talonbooks, ISBN 0-88922-474-9
      560 pages, extensively illustrated in black and white, some colour
      Biographies of over 400 architects and firms; extensive bibliography
      Numerous references to, and photographs of, the three Hotel Vancouvers


"Local Artists Unite Talents on Mural for New Vancouver"
      Vancouver Sun Feb. 11, 1939

"Facts About New Hotel"
      Daily Province May 27, 1939

"Rare Craftsmanship Shown in Stonework"
      Daily Province May 27, 1939

"Miss Farley's ability as a painter is also well known. Her large decoration in the Hotel Vancouver indicates the scope of her brush, and she has shown pictures here and elsewhere in important exhibitions. (continues) ..."
      From "Western Artists Capture Interest At Toronto Show" by Palette
      Daily Province, November 20 1941

"Sky-High City Zoo" by Allen Roy Evans
      Daily Province Dec. 8, 1956

"Hotel Vancouver Has Played in Hard Luck" by Alan Morley
      Vancouver Sun Dec. 20, 1963