Thursday, August 19, 2010

The rise and fall of the Royal Alexandra Hotel, in pictures

All images are from Peel's Prairie Provinces, the Winnipeg Tribune, the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Building Index. Newspaper quotations from Manitobia.



The Canadian Pacific Railway Will Build a Hostelery Commensuraate With the Import of the Road and the Dignity of Winnipeg

Mr. Whyte, in answer to inquiries, said the hotel would be of modern design and of suitable size, handsomely and comfortably finished, and fitted with every convenience." - Winnipeg Telegram, May 26, 1899

Looking west from the platform of the C.P.R. station (centre background), circa 1899. Point Douglas Avenue is on the right, and several of the hotels and "Hebrew shops" that the Royal Alexandra Hotel replaced, are in the left background. (WT)

The Main Street subway, showing the C.P.R. station on the right. The old station was demolished in 1905 in preparation for the Royal Alex. (Peel)

"The hotel that many Winnipeggers had imagined would stand just east of that much talked subway, is, therefore, still a thing of the dim and distant future as is also the new stations plans for which have been patiently watched for by the Winnipeg public." - Winnipeg Telegram, May 8, 1902

Conceptual drawing of the new Canadian Pacific station and hotel, c. 1905. (Peel)

The Royal Alex under construction, beginning to dwarf the small hotels across Main St. (Peel)

"The matter of the building of... hotel by the C.P.R. has engaged the attention of the people of Winnipeg for some years. Proposal after proposal has been considered, only to be rejected on some ground or other. In fact, the building of the proposed station and hotel has been for several seasons a standard joke with all the minstrel shows and comedians appearing on the stage in this city."
- Winnipeg Telegram, September 2, 1903

Construction site seen from the north, at the southwest corner of Main and Sutherland Avenue. (Peel)

The Main Street subway after completion of the hotel. (Peel)

The Royal Alex from Higgins Avenue, with the C.P. station on the right, c.1915. (Peel)

Looking from the north. (Peel)

An artist's rendition of the Royal Alex, based on a photograph, c. 1915. (Peel)

From Higgins Avenue, c.1930 (Peel)

The hotel's kitchen, c. 1940. (Peel)

The hotel from Main Street, c. 1950. (Peel)

Princess Elizabeth arrives at the hotel's Higgins Avenue entrance, 1951. (Peel)

A close-up view of northeast corner, c. 1962. (WBI)

The great hotel looms above an alleyway between Henry and Higgins Avenue, c. 1962. (WBI)

Entering the Higgins Avenue vestibule, c.1965. (PAM)

"Winnipeg bustled and bubbled with gaiety New Year's Eve as thousands cast aside their cares and welcomed 1944 with a whistle and a shout. At the Royal Alexandra hotel, 2,500 dancers attended the Puffin Ski club's dance, two other ballrooms were jammed and 400 attended the supper dance." - Winnipeg Tribune, January 1, 1944

Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Linton, leaving the hotel on its last day of operation, December 30, 1967. (WT)

"The Royal Alexandra Hotel, a landmark in north Winnipeg, will close its doors Dec. 31 after 61 years of service." - Winnipeg Tribune, December, 1967

The empty hotel, seen from Main Street, circa 1970. (WBI)

A security guard makes his rounds, c. 1971. (WT)

"Some furniture from public rooms and suites has already been removed for use in other CP hotels; the remainder will be offered for sale to the public by Atlas Wrecking." - Winnipeg Tribune, March 18, 1971

Deconstruction site, demolition crews at work, October, 1971. (WT)

"Construction on the new Canadian Pacific hotel, so well named "The Royal Alexandra," is now far advanced. Anyone who can elude the vigilance of the guards and get a glance at the interior will see that Winnipeg is going to have a magnificant hotel which will, indeed be an ornament to the city...

The site of the Royal Alex, as it looks today, minus the landscaping and lack of litter and intoxicated persons, c.1975. (WT)

"...A section of the city which is rapidly improving and is fast losing its old character is the north end of Main street between the city hall and the C.P.R." - Telegram, April 28, 1906


  1. Thanks for the posting this article. I never knew about this building! It's hard to imagine a member of the royal family visiting a hotel on Higgins Ave. these days.

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  3. Hi I enjoyed the pictures and stories of the history. I have a faint memory of the hotel, growing up in Wpg. I may have a piece of furniture auctioned off. Would you have any pictures of the hotel interiors - rooms etc?

  4. SO amazing and interesting design i like them very much but mostly i like old pics.

    Hotel furniture

  5. The CPR sent my father to Winnipeg from Montreal in 1953. For a month we stayed there. Wonderful memories of playing on the Countess of Dufferin which was outside. And of the 5 years spent in Winnipeg which will always have a special place in my heart and my sisters.

  6. Someone tell me for whom - a princess, I presume - the Royal Alexandra was named. henry

  7. I was fortunate enough to work at this hotel as the Private Secretary to the Manager from 1963 - 1965 prior to it's sale to private buyers. It was a very grand hotel - it was always in competition with the Hotel Fort Garry (a CN hotel) located at the other end of Main street. Really a shame what has happened to the whole area - someone (who?) figured it would be an improvement???

  8. According to MHS the current station at 181 Higgins was the fourth railway station at the site. The top photo at this site was opened sometime in the 1880s and demolished in 1905 for construction of the Royal Alexandra Hotel.

    Where were the first 2 stations located?

    Thanks - Rob