Located in the heart of Calgary’s downtown for more than 100 years, the Fairmont Palliser is a picture of elegance, with an equally impressive history. Construction of what was originally called The Palliser Hotel began on 12 May 1911 on land owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. At the time, Calgary’s population was small — most tourists were only passing through town on their way to Banff and did not stop to stay in what was primarily an RCMP post and trading centre. The town encouraged the railway to build a grand hotel that would put Calgary on the map as a unique destination.
P. Lyall and Sons Construction Company built The Palliser Hotel in a little over three years, using stone, steel, reinforced concrete, and brick, at a hefty cost of $1.5 million. Named after Captain John Palliser, a geographer and explorer of the 1800s, the hotel became an imposing landmark. Opening without any formal ceremony in 1914, the hotel’s first registered guest was a banker from Winnipeg.
The Fairmont Palliser was the tallest building in Calgary for a time. It was also one of the first hotels in Alberta to receive a liquor licence when Prohibition was repealed in 1924, and one of the last in Calgary to allow entry to women — it was a male-only bar until 1970.
These days, everyone is welcome at the Fairmont Palliser. The hotel had had many renovations and additions over the years, and serves as a meeting place, event centre, and wedding venue, with its own spa, bars, caterers, and restaurant. Three Calgary Philharmonic musicians recently visited the Fairmont Palliser, where they had the opportunity to perform in its grand Alberta Ballroom.
The Alberta Ballroom boasts hand-painted murals adorning the walls, large windows to allow for plenty of natural light, and enough space to seat 160 guests and still have room for a dance floor. Kathleen de Caen (cello), Antoine St-Onge (principal bassoon), and Alisa Klebanov (viola) got to experience this timeless elegance up close while performing their own musical selections. “It’s such a resonant, beautiful room,” says Klebanov. “It’s so nice to play a solo Bach suite in such a wonderful acoustic.”
For this online performance, enjoy a special 15% discount from the Fairmont Palliser’s Hawthorn Dining Room on a dinner for four. After registering for the concert, you will receive a discount code, which can be used to pre-order one of three meals. Orders need to be placed by midnight on Wednesday 14 April. View the menu here.
City Spaces: Fairmont Palliser premieres online on Saturday 17 April 2021. Learn more and register on our Virtual Concerts page.
By Dagny MacGregor