Vancouver Centennial Plaque #12 – The Hotel Vancouver


Southwest corner of Granville and Georgia


Vancouver City Centre Skytrain station


Missing, but the entry for current (third) Hotel Vancouver on the Heritage Site Finder mentions the first two



On this site stood the first two buildings of that name. In 1887 the C.P.R. opened the original hotel which, together with the adjoining Opera House, helped to shift the city centre away from its Gastown origins. In 1914 this was replaced by the second Hotel Vancouver, which was demolished in 1949.”

Credit: Vancouver Centennial Commission, Historic Plaque Program – list and documentation plaques 1-49 (June 18, 1986). Courtesy of Vancouver Archives

William Van Horne was General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway (then Vice-President, President and Chairman of the Board). After the transcontinental railway line was completed, he began the development of a chain of luxury CPR hotels and Vancouver was the first.

The Hotel Vancouver opened on May 16, 1887 – just a week before the first train arrived – and people were not happy with the style, calling it an “exceedingly ugly workhouse”. The original building was extended with a fancier-looking addition – “reminding one of a famer who has married an aristocratic wife”. However, after several attempts to add more space, the first Hotel Vancouver was deemed just too small and closed down.

The second Hotel Vancouver was built on the same site in 1916. The third (and current) Hotel Vancouver was built two blocks away. Construction began in 1929, but funding issues during the Great Depression led to delays and it only opened in 1939 (after a rush before the King and Queen’s visit to Canada).

The files at the Vancouver Archives suggest that this plaque (and a couple of others) may have been intended for the Pacific Centre shopping mall, but they may never have been actually installed.

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