Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Milestone for landmark
Chateau Laurier celebrates centennial with amnesty
Did grandma steal silverware from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier? Or perhaps great-grandpa kept a bill from the castle's early days when rooms cost $2 per night?
The landmark hotel, located next to the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year by launching an amnesty program for Chateau memorabilia, including menus, dishes, furniture, matchbooks and pins.
"We're looking for not only items that grandma may have slipped in her purse as a souvenir but also stories that go along with it," says Deneen Perrin, a spokeswoman for the Fairmont Laurier, which opened on June 1, 1912.
Information about the amnesty is on the hotel website. People have been dropping off memorabilia of their own accord.
So far, the heritage items collected include a photograph of someone's great-grandfather working on the roof of the hotel, a beer stein and a brass key.
"We had someone call from Vancouver: 'My grandfather passed away. We were going through his items and we found a beautiful brass key.' It's the key chain that is interesting because it actually has the indent in the brass of the outline of the hotel," Perrin says.
The amnesty was inspired by the hotel's 90th anniversary program. Hotel management put out a plea to Canadians requesting the return of a Dog Derby trophy that once sat in an ornate custom-built cabinet in the hotel lobby. The trophy, awarded to the winners of a dog race that began in 1930, had been missing for a few decades.
Anyone who returned it would receive a complimentary overnight stay in a presidential suite with dinner and breakfast -- no questions asked.
"It was returned to us from Toronto two days before the 90th anniversary. The person never claimed their prize. They dropped it off at the Royal York," she says. A Toronto man reportedly organized its safe return after finding it in a friend's cottage.
Items will be on display from June 1 until the end of the year. People can also opt to loan the items to the hotel and retrieve them after the exhibition.
Accompanying stories will be logged in a book "as a history for the hotel," Perrin says. "So that 50 years down the road, somebody else might be able to say, 'We have an item here from your great grandmother.' "
For more information on how to participate, visit fairmont.com/laurier.
-- Postmedia News
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 3, 2012 D7