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In praise of the Banff Springs Hotel . . . .

And so we arrived at the Banff Springs Hotel.
Yes, there are other contenders. But for me, this is it: the flagship of Canada’s fleet of historical railway hotels. From our window, we can see a statue of William Cornelius Van Horne, the visionary who built both the CPR and, not incidentally, this extravagant hotel. The four black-and-white photographs that adorn the walls of our room memorialize the 1939 visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
But whole books have been written about the Fairmont Banff Springs, as it is properly called, detailing its history, its celebrities, its amenities. I will mention only the 32-metre pool, the attendant outdoor pool, which is heated, and finally the hot pool. These brought back memories that need not detain us.
However, I must put in a word for the gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. It’s pricey, $35 a head, but when you reach the top, you discover marvelous views of Banff and surrounding mountain ranges, and you get to hike a splendid boardwalk to the Eagle’s Eyrie, a stone-built weather observatory built in 1903. It’s like walking into your own IMAX movie, complete with 3D mountain goats, and you're live.

Ken McGoogan
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1 comment:

Chris Wiseman said...

Andy McDowell in the pool, Ken? No wonder you like The Old Lady!

Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.