A new family for Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel

The Fort Garry Hotel of Winnipeg has always been the favourite hotel property in my hometown. For weekend getaways, to host incredible events of various types, for the best Sunday brunch in town, and to host royals and dignitaries and other travellers interested in a bit of grandeur loaded with the captivating ambiance of a historic (former) Canadian National Railway property, the Fort Garry Hotel proudly stands out in front of any and all competitors. Constructed in 1913 in a Châteauesque style by the (then) Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, the hotel remains a Winnipeg landmark on Broadway (no avenue or street appendage) just a few steps from the Upper Fort Garry National Historic Site, one block away from Winnipeg’s Union Station to the east and six blocks from the Manitoba Legislature to the west.

Designated a National Historic Site in 1981, the Fort Garry Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre has 240 guest rooms including 19 suites and a resident ghost.

Yes, this grand hotel has a ghost! It is said that the ghost of a woman who committed suicide in the closet of Room 202 following the sudden death of her husband still haunts the hotel. No harm has ever been caused to a guest or employee by the ghost, but people often ‘feel’ her and there have reportedly been some cases of physical evidence which add credence to the ghostly legend.

The beautiful Palm Lounge at the Fort Garry Hotel is a charming place to enjoy memorable times with friends for dining, drinks, ambiance and live music.

Current owners of the Fort Garry Hotel (which has also been called the Hotel Fort Garry in past years) have recently joined the family of Choice Hotels International, Inc., a worldwide collection of 7,100 properties offering 590,000 rooms in more than 40 countries and territories. The Fort Garry Hotel fit very nicely into the upscale Ascend Hotel Collection, a network of resorts, historic properties and unique boutique hotels that fall under the Choice Hotels banner.

Fort Garry Hotel Winnipeg Canada
The architecture of Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel combines traits of both Renaissance and Gothic Revival stying in a Chateauesque design.

All Choice Hotels properties are independently owned and operated in a variety of styles and scales–all participating in an award-winning global rewards and centralized reservations system. There are full-service and extended stay brands in the economy, mid-scale and upscale categories that include the Ascend Hotel Collection, Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Quality and Clarion Hotels, Main Stay Suites, EconoLodge and Rodeway Inn properties.

The architecture of Winnipeg's Fort Garry Hotel combines traits of both Renaissance and Gothic Revival stying in a Chateauesque design.
The architecture of Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel combines traits of both Renaissance and Gothic Revival stying in a Chateauesque design.

I hope that the new business arrangement for the Fort Garry Hotel will enable this grand historic property to reach clients it may otherwise have not, and that both Manitobans and visitors alike to continue to revel in its beauty.

Have you stayed at the Fort Garry Hotel, or attended an event there? I have enjoyed several stays over the years, and have attended numerous special events, conferences and weddings. It no longer has the casino, but it does have the TEN Spa on the 10th floor–which I hopefully will have the opportunity to visit sometime soon.

If you’re planning a trip to Winnipeg, please check out this post that names the Fort Garry Hotel as one of my favourite places to visit in The ‘Peg.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

19 Responses

  1. Janet says:

    The Fort Garry Hotel is certainly a beautiful historic property and gem of Winnipeg.

  2. Chris Ryall says:

    I stayed there a couple of times during the late 90s/early-mid 2000’s when I was in town on business. Enjoy the historic, old CP hotel (now Fairmont) history though at the time the rooms needed a little refreshing. I did love the Ten Spa when it first opened — went there with a WestJet sales manager (good way to start a week-long presentations) and Ten Spa has become one of my favourite spas in Canada — love their hammam and decor (probably changed since I was there). Hopefully the new owners will treasure its history while incorporating some modern tech touches.

    • Hi Chris and thanks so much for your comment. Yes, the Fairmont Winnipeg also has a rich history and is a lovely hotel. I’ve stayed there many times and enjoyed many events there. I’m glad you’ve got some great memories of the Fort Garry Hotel as well. Lucky you to have experienced the Ten Spa. Hopefully I’ll get there sometime soon. The hotel has not been sold. Ida Also and her husband Rick (I believe his surname is Bell) still own the hotel. Hopefully, their arrangement with Choice Hotels will be a good one for all.

  3. Beverly says:

    I have wonderful memories of the hotel. I have attended weddings there and if I remember correctly, a graduation.

    • Hi, Bev. Congrats on making the 18,000th comment on my blog! I’ll have to make sure there is some chocolate in it for you as I truly appreciate your regular visits to my site. I’m glad you’ve got some great memories from the Fort Garry Hotel. It’s a magnificent place and I hope it survives and thrives through the changes it is undergoing.

  4. Maureen Flynn says:

    I have many memories of time spent here. I just love this hotel! My most recent memory took place just last winter when my husband and I stayed a night. Drinks in the Palm Room and a beautiful breakfast! Who knew it would be our last little get-away for some time. My second novel in my Winnipeg mystery series took place here and included the famous ghost. While doing research for my novel I found many more things to love about the hotel and its remarkable history.

    • Hi Maureen and thanks for your comment. How interesting that you’ve written a novel that included Winnipeg and the Fort Garry Hotel ghost. Don’t be shy! Please tell us the name of it.

  5. Jim and I lingered over a Royal Tea at the Fort Garry in 2005 when he was on his cross-country bike trip. We were spending a few days in Winnipeg and it was *hot* (33 degrees!). So we hung out in the cool hotel for as long as we could, and it was cool in more ways than one. I also remember having a lovely time in Winnipeg with you at that time, Doreen. I think we also had some special events during the 2008 PWAC conference at the Fort Garry. So I have many special memories of that grand hotel.

    • Hi Christine & thx for sharing your memories of your time in Winnipeg & the Fort Garry Hotel. I do indeed recall meeting up with you in Winnipeg at that time while Jim was on his bike ride.

      The PWAC events we had in 2008 were at the nearby Fairmont Winnipeg, another lovely hotel property in the heart of the city.

  6. Bruce Smith says:

    Lots of great memories of the Fort Garry. Got to stay overnight on one occasion but no ghost encounter. Attended several wedding receptions in the lavish surroundings and with great food. Went there many times for lunch — I could go on at great length. Great place!

    • Hi, Bruce! Thx so much for sharing your warm memories of the Fort Garry Hotel. Of all the meals I enjoyed there over the years, I’ve never had a bad one. Loved the Sunday brunch. I guess those are gone due to COVID. My only complaint is that soundproofing in the guest rooms could be better. But they didn’t build them to the same codes we’re used to in those days!

  7. I love these vintage hotels. They are graceful. Doors Open Pittsburgh is an architectural tour weekend each October. We get to roam in and out of dozens of these beauts!

    • Hi RoseMary. We have Doors Open in Winnipeg, too. Usually the first weekend of May, I think. It’s a real treat to see inside some of these historic buildings. Winnipeg was known as “Chicago of the North” before the Great Depression, and has quite a number of iconic heritage buildings like the Fort Garry Hotel. Put it on your bucket list for when you come to Manitoba.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…A new family for Winnipeg’s Fort Garry HotelMy Profile

  8. Pat says:

    I remember my cousin Gerald and Maureen’s wedding reception. It was so decadent! It was nothing like any of my family had ever seen. First time having Baked Alaska. I remember going to the casino with my brother Robert and Virginia. It was okay to leave my hard earned cash! My last visit was the best. I had flown in from Vancouver and my friend Diana who was living in rural Manitoba decided we should spend a night in the hotel and then have the Sunday brunch. Beautiful room and awesome food. Wish the new owners all the best.

    • Pat, thx so much for your comment! That’s exactly what I was hoping for. That Manitobans (or former Manitobans are you are) would share memories from good times at the Fort Garry Hotel. The owners have not changed. They’ve just bought into being a member of the Choice Hotels Ascend Collection. Perhaps they may even hang onto it now, as things may get easier for them with the assistance they get from the program.

  9. What kinds of chocolate do they offer at the hotel?

    • Hi TammyJo. I haven’t been there for a long while, so I’ll have to check out the latest menu! But the Fort Garry Hotel has always achieved excellence in both the sweet and the savoury offerings.

  10. Linda Paul says:

    Isn’t it amazing to think that back in the day, these grand hotels were usually owned by one person or family and were able to operate in the black? Now, it seems that they all must become part of some sort of consortium in order to survive. I do hope the big new conglomerate will keep its corporate mark to a minimum and let the grand old hotel maintain her dignity and unique personality.

    • Hi, Linda. You’re so right! I know that the current owners had the hotel up for sale, but had been unable to sell it. Hopefully, this new collaboration will be a win-win-win. For the consortium, the owners, and the patrons.

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