Travel sketch: Vancouver, Canada
Seeing as Canada Day is coming up, I felt it was time to publish something just recently rediscovered in a half-forgotten sketchbook.
Drawn on the right is the third incarnation of the Hotel Vancouver, built from 1929-39. 17 storeys high, the monumental hotel was inspired by French Renaissance châteaux with touches of the Scottish baronial. This quintessentially Canadian style was popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, exemplified in the grand railway hotels built by rival companies Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National (CN). Canadian Pacific landmarks include Toronto’s Royal York, Quebec’s Château Frontenac, Victoria’s Empress Hotel and a few rural resorts within national parks, most notably the Banff Springs Hotel. I must also point out that my original annotation was incorrect – alongside Ottawa’s Château Laurier and six other properties, the Hotel Vancouver was built by CN but later purchased in 1988 by its main competitor.
The more modern building on the left – whose shape is not quite as bulky as the sketch implies – is Cathedral Place, a 23-storey office tower that pays homage to the past while respecting its immediate neighbours. Adopting the copper roof of the Hotel Vancouver, it replaced a respectable art deco landmark, the Georgia Medical-Dental Building, demolished in 1989 following an intense – albeit unsuccessful – campaign to save it. Although visibly postmodern, Cathedral Place has kept the theme of its predecessor, its corners bristling with gargoyles and art deco statues. The tower has even spawned a copy in Hong Kong, this time without the château-style roof. Turns out a certain Hong Kong media mogul (Sir Run Run Shaw) had a hand in developing the original…