May 22, 2007

Le Chateau Frontenac

chateau frontenac, quebec cityWe were lucky enough to stay at the Chateau Frontenac during our stay in Quebec City. While we were there, we toured the hotel with Gaston, a tour guide who played the part of a porter from the late 19th century. He had several interesting stories about the hotel and its guests. Some of what we learned:

The Chateau was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 1800's. Several luxury hotels were being built at the time, including Banff Springs Hotel and Windsor Station in Montreal. The railway wanted to encourage the wealthy to travel on its trains to visit those destinations, and the hotels were the lure.

The brick used for the hotel came from Scotland. It was used for ballast in ships coming to North America to get timber. When the ships arrived, they dumped the brick to make room for the timber. People used the free brick to build homes, and the builders of the Chateau did the same. The other stone used in the building is local blue limestone.

This is where the Quebec Conference of 1943 was held, when Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and William Lyon Mackenzie King planned Operation Overlord, otherwise know as D Day, the invasion of Normandy during World War II. The world leaders stayed at the Citadel while the military officers and staff stayed at the Chateau. The First Ladies were also at the hotel, helping to distract the press.

chateau frontenac, quebec cityTours of the Chateau Frontenac are open to the public, and I highly recommend that you go on one. Be sure to ask a lot of questions. Someone asked Gaston why his outfit had leather sleeves and he explained that porters carried large trunks from the steamships and trains that arrived and the leather kept the shirts from ripping. They also kept the porters warm when they had to stand outside in cold weather. Most porters would tuck wool into the leather sleeves for extra protection.

Other posts about Quebec City on Rambling Traveler:
Friday Photo Post: Quebec City
Walking Around Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: More from Quebec City
Wall Murals of Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: Rue Saint Louis, Quebec City