Prince Arthur Hotel

Last updated
The Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel & Suites
Prince Arthur Hotel and Suites Thunder Bay.jpg
The Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel
Prince Arthur Hotel
General information
Location Thunder Bay, Ontario
Coordinates 48°26′07″N89°13′07″W / 48.43516°N 89.2187°W / 48.43516; -89.2187
OpeningMarch 14, 1911
OwnerIndependent (previously a CN Hotel)
Technical details
Floor count6
Design and construction
Architect J.D. Matheson
Other information
Number of rooms121
Number of restaurants1
Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel & Suites

The Prince Arthur Hotel, now known as The Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel is a hotel in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The hotel was originally built by the Canadian Northern Railway and was operated as a CN Hotel until 1955. The hotel was sold and now operates as an independent. [1]



In 1908, while travelling to Winnipeg, John James Carrick, Sir William Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann were playing poker in a private car. In the wee morning hours, Carrick told the other two men that Port Arthur needed a good hotel and the Canadian Northern Railway should build one and even had a perfect location for it (the existing one). [2] In a plebiscite taken at the end of April 1909, the citizens of Port Arthur endorsed the transfer of city land to the C.N.R. on which to build a grand new hotel. 

In 1910, construction began with Toronto firm Imperial Construction acting as general contractors. They delegated the work to local tradesmen and sourced materials locally: the cut stone supplied by Stanworth-Martin Company of Port Arthur and brick from the furnaces of the Twin City Sand Company. [2] The six-storey hotel was made almost entirely of concrete and marble including walls, ceilings and floors, with very little wood, to ensure it was fireproof. Commissioned artwork was hung throughout the hotel, as well as commissioned murals were painted in the rotunda depicting the building of the C.N.R. into the city. In total, it cost $850,000 to build the hotel, a value of $14.5 million in 2018! [3]

The choice Prince Arthur for the name of the hotel was fortuitous for, when on January 14, 1911, it was announced that Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, would become Canada's next Governor General.  The newly-minted Governor General visited Port Arthur in August 1912. With permission, his family crest, a British lion above a ducal coronet, was incorporated with the C.N.R. monogram and used on the hotel's chairs and dishes. [2]

On March 14, 1911, the brand-new Prince Arthur Hotel had its grand opening dinner event where over 100 selected guests sat down to a superb 18-course meal of classical French cuisine. The menu itself was extravagant, even by today's standards. Appetizers were caviar canapé à la Russe, blue points on shell, essence of tomatoes en tasse, stuffed celery, radishes and olives, and sherry. Main courses were tournedos of beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce, medallions of halibut with sauce Valois, pommes dauphine, pomme pailles, haricots, flageolets, claret, supreme of chicken with fresh mushrooms, punch Benedictine, new potatoes in cream, champagne, salad Prince Arthur, cheese soufflé, demi-tasse, and cognac. [4]

The Prince Arthur offered first-class accommodation, charging $1.50 to $2.00 a day for a regular room and $2.00 to $3.00 if you wanted a bath. [2] The floors in the bathing rooms were made from the same marble as the rotunda. Each bedroom was twenty feet long and faced outside. The first three floors were furnished in mahogany, and the upper floors in weathered oak.

Many guests arrived by rail and steamship and entered the hotel through the hotel’s famed formal gardens, which were designed by landscape artist H.F. Boyce of North Battleford, Saskatchewan. [4] The gardens gave way to a parking lot in 1958.

Other Interesting Facts

Remnants of two tunnels are in the hotel’s basement. One tunnel lead to the lake shore while the other tunnel used to connect to a neighbouring hotel, the Marriaggi Hotel, which is now the silver government building across the street.

In 1921, the poppy was first adopted as the symbol of remembrance at a meeting at the hotel and in 1991, a commemorative plaque was hung in the hotel’s lobby. [3] [5]

Famous People Who Have Been to the Hotel

In 1914, Mrs. MacLean, a student of the famous Russian ballet dancer Louis Chalif, ran a ballroom dance studio out of the hotel.

Sir Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada at the time, and Lady Borden stayed at the hotel on December 31, 1914 where they were received in the drawing room.

Australian contralto Eva Mylott, a protégé of the famous Dame Nellie Melba, stayed at the hotel in the mid to late 1910s. She was the paternal grandmother of actor Mel Gibson and a relative of the Australian concert pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the Lakehead on May 23, 1939.  A dance was held in their honour at the Prince Arthur before they continued heading west by train. The hotel also provided the dinner rolls and pastries that the royal party ate while on-board the royal car.

Travelling musicians performing in town often stayed at the Prince Arthur: Duke Ellington, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and Johnny Cash to name a few.

Related Research Articles

Thunder Bay City in Ontario, Canada

Thunder Bay is a city in and the seat of Thunder Bay District, Ontario, Canada. It is the most populous municipality in Northwestern Ontario and the second most populous municipality in Northern Ontario; its population is 107,909 according to the 2016 Canada Census, Located on Lake Superior, the census metropolitan area of Thunder Bay has a population of 121,621 and consists of the city of Thunder Bay, the municipalities of Oliver Paipoonge and Neebing, the townships of Shuniah, Conmee, O'Connor, and Gillies, and the Fort William First Nation.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Airport in Toronto Islands, Ontario, Canada

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a regional airport located on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The airport is often referred to as Toronto Island Airport and was previously known as Port George VI Island Airport and Toronto City Centre Airport. The airport's name honours Billy Bishop, the Canadian World War I flying ace and World War II Air Marshal. It is used by civil aviation, air ambulances, and regional airlines using turboprop planes. In 2018, it was ranked Canada's ninth-busiest airport, and the sixth-busiest Canadian airport that serves the U.S.

Fort William, Ontario Former city in Ontario

Fort William was a city in Ontario, Canada, located on the Kaministiquia River, at its entrance to Lake Superior. It amalgamated with Port Arthur and the townships of Neebing and McIntyre to form the city of Thunder Bay in January 1970. Since then it has been the largest city in Northwestern Ontario. The city's Latin motto was A posse ad esse, featured on its coat of arms designed in 1900 by town officials, "On one side of the shield stands an Indian dressed in the paint and feathers of the early days; on the other side is a French voyageur; the center contains an [grain] elevator, a steamship and a locomotive, while the beaver surmounts the whole."

Port Arthur was a city in Northern Ontario, Canada, located on Lake Superior. In January 1970 it amalgamated with Fort William and the townships of Neebing and McIntyre to form the city of Thunder Bay.

Canadian Northern Railway

The Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) was a historic Canadian transcontinental railway. At its 1923 merger into the Canadian National Railway, the CNoR owned a main line between Quebec City and Vancouver via Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Edmonton.

Toronto Harbour

Toronto Harbour or Toronto Bay is a bay on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is a natural harbour, protected from Lake Ontario waves by the Toronto Islands. Today, the harbour is used primarily for recreational boating, including personal vessels and pleasure boats providing scenic or party cruises. Ferries travel from docks on the mainland to the Islands, and cargo ships deliver aggregates and raw sugar to industries located in the harbour. Historically, the harbour has been used for military vessels, passenger traffic and cargo traffic. Waterfront uses include residential, recreational, cultural, commercial and industrial sites.


PortsToronto (PT), formerly known as the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), is responsible for the management of the harbour of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. It is a federally-incorporated agency, with directors appointed by three levels of government: the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto government. The agency changed its name in 2015 to PortsToronto.

Thunder Bay Transit

Thunder Bay Transit is the public transit operator in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. It was formed in 1970, after the amalgamation of the cities of Port Arthur and Fort William and their respective transit agencies. Thunder Bay Transit is a member of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

James Conmee

James Conmee was an Ontario businessman and political figure. He represented Algoma West from 1885 to 1902 and Port Arthur and Rainy River from 1902 to 1904 in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and Thunder Bay and Rainy River in the House of Commons of Canada from 1904 to 1911 as a Liberal member.

Transportation in Thunder Bay, Ontario

Transportation is essential to trade, which has always been the backbone of the economy of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, beginning with Fort Kaministiquia in 1717. When the area was first settled its many waterways were used by the voyagers and Coureur des bois to trade their goods.

King's Highway 102, commonly referred to as Highway 102, formerly as Highway 11A and Highway 17A and historically as the Dawson Road, is a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario, serving as a northern bypass to the city of Thunder Bay for all vehicle traffic. Both the western and eastern termini of Highway 102 are with the concurrency of Highway 11 and Highway 17; in the rural community of Sistonens Corners to the west and in Thunder Bay to the east. The majority of Highway 102 is surrounded by thick forests and swamps. However, owing to its historic nature, it is lined with residences outside of urban Thunder Bay.

Waverley Park (Thunder Bay)

Waverley Park is a public park located in the north end of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. It is the second oldest municipal park in Ontario. The park forms the centre of the Waverley Park Heritage Conservation District, a collection of historical homes, churches, schools, and other buildings at the centre of Port Arthur.

John James Carrick

John James Carrick was an Ontario real estate promoter and political figure. He was always referred to by his initials as J.J. Carrick. Carrick served as mayor of Port Arthur in 1908. He represented Port Arthur in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1908 to 1911 and Thunder Bay and Rainy River in the House of Commons of Canada from 1911 to 1917 as a Conservative member. He stepped aside in 1917 for his erstwhile protégé Donald McDonald Hogarth, but when the Port Arthur Liberal Association refused to accept Hogarth as the Unionist Party candidate, he gave way to Conservative Francis Henry Keefer who won the seat in the 1917 Canadian federal election for the Unionists.

Toronto Harbour Commission

The Toronto Harbour Commission (THC) was a joint federal-municipal government agency based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The agency managed Toronto Harbour as well as being responsible for major works along the Toronto waterfront. It built the Toronto Island Airport in 1939. The agency was founded in 1911 and operated until 1999 when the port operations were transferred to the new Toronto Port Authority (TPA), now PortsToronto.

The Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League (TBJHL) was a Canadian junior ice hockey league that existed from c. 1920 to 1980. The TBJHL operated in Northwestern Ontario, primarily in the Thunder Bay region.

Thomas Marks

Thomas Marks was an Irish-born Canadian businessman who served as the first mayor of Port Arthur, Ontario.

Marina Park (Thunder Bay)

Marina Park is a local waterfront park and marina located on the shores of Lake Superior in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The park is located in the city's north end near the downtown north core. Aside from pleasure craft docks and a fueling facility, the park also has walking paths and a boardwalk, playground equipment, picnic tables, a Mariner's Monument and the historic CN Rail Station.

Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda

The Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda, built in 1909, was an early tourist bureau promoting the city of Port Arthur, Ontario. Located on the waterfront and close to the former train station, the pagoda was intended to attract the attention of visitors arriving by rail or water. Competition with nearby Fort William was one factor leading to its construction. Another factor was the planned construction of the nearby Prince Arthur Hotel, completed around 1910.

Leeblain Ghost town in Ontario, Canada

Leeblain is a ghost town in the Canadian province of Ontario, located on the north shore of Gunflint Lake in the Thunder Bay District. Part of the ghost town is located within La Verendrye Provincial Park and is adjacent to the well known Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Boundary Waters between Canada and the United States.

Port Arthur was an electoral riding in Ontario, Canada. In 1902 the riding was created as Port Arthur and Rainy River. Six years later it was split into two ridings: Port Arthur and Rainy River. In 1996, it was merged with the riding of Nipigon to form Thunder Bay—Superior North.


  1. Home - Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel & Suites - Thunder Bay Archived 2012-02-04 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 3 4 "The Prince Arthur Hotel | The Walleye". Retrieved 2018-09-07.
  3. 1 2 "Did You Know". Retrieved 2018-09-07.
  4. 1 2 Saj, Tania L. (2009). The Last Best Places: Storytelling About Thunder Bay's Historic Buildings. Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada: River Rocks Publishing. pp. 44–49. ISBN   9780978272111.
  5. "The Remembrance Poppy and its Thunder Bay Roots". Northern Ontario Travel. 2014-10-31. Retrieved 2018-09-07.