Fairmont Chateau Laurier threw open its doors on June 1, 1912. Hundreds of people flocked to see Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, officially open the hotel. Renowned French sculptor Paul Romaine Chevré had been commissioned to create a bust of Laurier for the lobby of the hotel. On opening day, moments before Laurier went for a private viewing of the bust, workmen dropped the statue and the nose was chipped. Unaware of the mishap, Laurier was terribly insulted when he saw the bust. Nonetheless, Laurier was the first to sign the hotel’s guest register and the marble statue was repaired.
The regal Chateau changed the face of downtown Ottawa, lending a new elegance and sophistication to the city. The building costs totaled $2 million. The 306 rooms, priced at $2 per night, were among the first hotel rooms to offer indoor plumbing.
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