The Chateau’s Epic Saga

Ottawa Magazine - - THIS CITY - Château Lau­rier: The Mini-Se­ries yet? — Laura Byrne Pa­quet

Builders be­ing asked to pee in a bucket so that their urine could be used to ox­i­dize the gleam­ing cop­per roofs of a new ho­tel ris­ing be­side Par­lia­ment Hill.

A grand open­ing post­poned when com­pany pres­i­dent Charles Hays drowned on the Ti­tanic, tak­ing the newly pur­chased din­ing room fur­ni­ture with him.

R.B. Ben­nett’s five-year stay dur­ing his term as prime min­is­ter. Tory min­is­ter Ge­orge Hees ca­vort­ing with al­leged Soviet spy Gerda Mun­singer. Pierre Trudeau slid­ing down a ban­is­ter. A rep­u­ta­tion as Canada’s “third Par­lia­ment.”

The saga con­tin­ues. Pho­tog­ra­pher Yousef Karsh and his wife, Estrel­lita, en­ter­tained celebri­ties in Suite 358, which was their home for 18 years. Ru­mour has it that a guest once asked for a white horse (em­ploy­ees found the horse but re­fused to let it into the ho­tel). Ru­dolf Nureyev wanted an ex­tra-wide bed so that he could prac­tise his dance steps atop it.

But the Château’s story is not all sun­shine and roses. Pub­lic out­rage sur­rounded the place from the start, when con­struc­tion on the ho­tel be­gan in 1909, be­cause it chewed up the south­ern por­tion of Ma­jor’s Hill Park. And flare-ups fol­lowed any pro­posal to change any­thing about the beloved pile of In­di­ana lime­stone — the cur­rent ruckus about a pro­posed ex­ten­sion, which would add 218 long-stay suites and an un­der­ground garage to the ho­tel, is far from the first.

And I haven’t even men­tioned the CBC re­porters up­stairs, the se­cret tun­nel un­der Rideau, the race-win­ning sled dog that slurped milk from a tro­phy in the ball­room, and the ghost ac­cused of lay­ing a chilly hand on a guest’s back while she was show­er­ing.

Why hasn’t some­one made

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