Which grand railway hotel turns up on an album cover? Answer: the Delta Bessborough, a Saskatoon landmark known as The Bezz.
The album is Clouds by Joni Mitchell, who grew up in this town on the South Saskatchewan River. She painted a self-portrait for the cover, and there, in the upper right-hand corner, we discover Saskatoon's castle.
This hotel is worth celebrating. It arose out of burning envy. When the Canadian Pacific Railway built a grand hotel in Regina in 1926, the burghers of Saskatoon lobbied the Canadian National Railway to respond in kind. In exchange for building a chateau-style hotel of at least 200 rooms (in the end: 225), the city exempted CN from paying property tax for 25 years.
The Bessborough, completed in 1933, was one of the most luxurious hotels in Canada. It still qualifies as “grand.” We lucked into a view over the five-acre gardens and the South Saskatchewan River and all I can say is that I’ve looked at life from both sides now, and traveling VIA-Rail with 50 Canadians Who Changed the World is for me the only way to go. Judging from the way our contest is going, a lot of Canadians share the same view.