The Fairmont Royal York Hotel is located at 100 Front St W (between Bay and York Sts) in the Financial District of Downtown Toronto.
The Land Before the Royal York
In 1798, the land the hotel stands on was granted to William Drummer Powell. He built a log cabin on the property in 1812. In 1844, Captain Thomas Dick purchased the site and built four brick homes which would later become Sword’s Hotel. In 1862, the hotel was renamed Queen’s Hotel. While it was enlarged several times, Queen’s Hotel was subsequently demolished in 1927 to make way for the Royal York.
Architecture & Amenities of the Towering Gem
Completed in 1929, the opulent Chateau-style building was designed by architect firms Sproatt & Rolph (Toronto) and Ross & Macdonald (Montreal). It opened as the Royal York Hotel and was the crown jewel of hotels owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The exterior features Indiana limestone and a copper chateau roof.
The grand hotel had over 1000 rooms, 28 floors, ten elevators, a 50-ton pipe organ, hand-painted ceilings, crystal chandeliers, travertine pillars, a 12-bed hospital, a glass-enclosed rooftop garden, a 12,000 book library, a bank, silversmith, a massive kitchen, a 35-operator switchboard and an underground tunnel connecting to Union Station. There was even a broadcasting suite on the top floor called the CPR Radio Room. According to a CNE program, rooms started at $4.00 per day.
While today the Fairmont Royal York Hotel is dwarfed by the skyscrapers surrounding it, it was the tallest building in Canada and the largest hotel in the British Empire for a few years. The landmark was once a part of Toronto’s skyline. It stood like a beacon, also welcoming those coming in from the harbour.
Restoration of the Storied Hotel
In the late 1950s, an east wing with 400 rooms was added. In the early 1970s, not only did the luxury hotel undergo a significant renovation, but it also received heritage status. Then in 1988, a 5-year restoration began. In 2001, the property was renamed Fairmont Royal York Hotel and has undergone a few ownership changes. In 2019, the hotel completed a major renovation.
There have been stories of the historic hotel being haunted. Guests have reported hearing children laughing and playing in the halls, only find no one there when they open their doors. Others have mentioned seeing the ghost of a grey-haired man wearing a maroon smoking jacket wandering the hallway of the hotel’s 8th floor. Click for more haunted tales.
Host to Notable Guests and Film Shoots
Throughout the years, this beautiful hotel has hosted royalty, Prime Ministers from around the globe, presidents, celebrities and more. It has also been host to movie and TV shoots, including RED, Warehouse 13, Miss Sloane and Grey Gardens, to name a few.
Fairmont Royal York Hotel Photos
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 100 Front St W
- Ontario Heritage Trust: Royal York Hotel plaque
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Thomas Dick
- The Fairmont Royal York: History
- The Canadian Encyclopedia: Royal York Hotel
- Toronto Ghosts: The Royal York Hotel
- National Post – Toronto: The Royal York is Haunted
- IMDB: Filming Locations: Royal York Hotel
- Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives, Toronto Public Library, Archives of Ontario & CNE Heritage