Without a doubt, the Château Laurier in Ottawa, Ontario is one of the most iconic and extravagant hotels in Canada. The hotel was originally commissioned by Charles Melville Hays with the assistance of Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, its doors were prepared to be open at the end of April, 1912, however tragedy struck and its grand opening was halted. Hays had been returning to Canada for the grand opening aboard the infamous RMS Titanic and tragically died in the disaster. A ceremony to commemorate the hotel’s construction was eventually held on the 12th of June, 1912, with Sir Wilfrid Laurier in attendance and Hays honourably acknowledged.
Since the Château Laurier’s opening, it has accommodated a number of prestigious politicians, celebrities, and even nobility. Among these guests include Diana, the Princess of Wales, Sir William Lyon Mackenzie King, Queen Elizabeth II, Ronald Reagan, and of course, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The vast history of the Château Laurier is without precedent and has been a proud monument of Canadian heritage, although a recent proposal has caused extensive controversy in the present day. The current owners of the Château Laurier are proposing to expand the hotel by adding a modern-day architectural building that will increase the number of guest rooms and parking spaces. The politics surrounding this proposal resonates with Winner’s discussion of how technologies have political consequences and how there are unequal degrees of power and awareness in regards to the decisions that are being made. Despite the fact that the add-on will be far more contemporary in regards to the architecture and technology within the building, the social response has been far from accepting. Many are expressing their concerns that this new building will undermine the historical integrity of the classical and historic building. Some have taken to Twitter and the news to express their concerns with the proposal and how the owners of the Château Laurier are ignoring the public disapproval of the project and the historical significance of the hotel as a national monument of Canada.
Winner discusses how certain devices and systems inherently are linked to authority and power, which is partially what compromises the Château Laurier. This hotel exemplifies a higher standard of living that was once was exclusive to a specific social class during a specific historical period. Today, although rates at the Château Laurier are still incredibly expensive, it is far more affordable than it once was. One of the reasons people choose to stay here as opposed to a regular chain hotel is to experience the history of the building and the social importance it exemplifies. There is an extensive historical and political history that is embedded within the building itself, similarly to others such as the Prince of Wales Hotel and McCrae House. To say you stayed at a recognized historic building in Canada where many famous individuals have stayed is exciting. As long as the Château Laurier exists in its original state, it is illustrative of a historical, political, and cultural Canadian identity.