Heritage Winnipeg is celebrating the centenary of the Fort Garry Hotel. As part of their celebrations there will be a luncheon and
historic presentation by The Hermetic Code author Frank Albo on March 15, in the
Provencher Room at the hotel.
SCENE wanted to find out some little known facts about the hotel which remains a historic downtown landmark.
Charles Melville Hayes (Wikipedia)
1. Charles Melville Hays was the President of the Grand Trunk and Grand Trunk Pacific Railroads when the decision to build the Fort Garry Hotel was taken.
Hays insisted on the very highest standards both in the construction of the railroad line and for the hotels the railroad erected at several points along its route.
Hays never lived to see the completion of his railroad nor of the Chateau Laurier and the Fort Garry Hotels, both under construction when he died. He drowned when the Titanic went down in 1912.
2. It cost $1,500,000 to build the Fort Garry in 1913.
3. On August 1, 1912, John Leighton, a bricklayer's laborer working on the Fort Garry Hotel was killed when he fell down an elevator shaft at the construction site.
The Coroner's Jury ruled that the contractor was responsible for not properly blocking off the edge of the shaft. Many people have seen or felt the presence of ghosts in the Hotel and John Leighton may be one of them.
4. The Fort Garry Hotel was nearly called The Selkirk.
5. In the 1920s the Canadian National Railway operated a radio network. CNRW was the Winnipeg station.
The Romance of Canada Radio Plays (Vancouver Radio Museum)
In 1931 and 1932 the network broadcast a series of historical plays called The Romance of Canada
which included a play about the Battle of Seven Oaks. Descendants of the Selkirk Settlers and the Metis buffalo hunters were invited to the Fort Garry to listen to the broadcast.
6. In May 1927 the explorer Roald Amundsen stayed at the Fort Garry and gave a sold out lecture at the Walker Theatre about his most recent expedition. He lectured about his trip to the North Pole in 1926.
7. At one time, the hotel was self-contained thanks to its own heating plant, laundry, bakery, butcher shop, valets and source of artesian well water.
It even had its own printing press in one of the tower rooms, where all menus and other notices for the hotel were produced. The press was so heavy and large that the room had to be built around it after it was hoisted into place.
The printing press remains in place to this day, but is now accessible only via a doorway on the roof.The Heritage Winnipeg spring fundraising luncheon takes place Friday march 15 at noon at the Fort Garry Hotel. Tickets are available at McNally Robinson or Heritage Winnipeg.