Sunday, March 18, 2012

Anniversaries Merge


In a recent post about Anniversaries I noted that both the Sinking of the Titanic and the Opening of the Chateau Laurier occurred 100 years ago this April.

What I didn't realize is that the official launch of the Chateau Laurier , originally due to open on April 26, 1912 had to be postponed when it was discovered that owner and Grand Trunk Railway President, Charles Melville Hays, an American, had lost his life that fateful night of April 14/15 when the Titanic hit an iceberg and went down.

The Chateau Laurier recovered from this inauspicious beginning to become one of Canada's best known hotels. Located adjacent to Canada's Parliament Buildings in downtown Ottawa, the Chateau has hosted royalty and dignitaries from every walk of life and was home (on the 3rd floor) for many years to famed photographer, Turkish-born, Yousuf Karsh and his wife, Estrellita. Karsh had his studio on the 6th floor of the Chateau from 1973 to 1992. The elegant lobby is a showplace for many Karsh photographs of famous people. His photographic equipment is now displayed at Ottawa's Museum of Science and Technology, while the National Archives preserves more than 300,000 Karsh items, including negatives, prints and manuscripts.

In 2000 Karsh and his wife moved to Boston, where he died in 2002 at the age of 93. He is buried in an Ottawa cemetery

Plans to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Chateau Laurier include an on-going memorabilia search, public Open Doors events June 2/3 with costumed guided tours, a year-long Centennial Tea starting April 26 and a "culinary journey through time," with menus reflecting the past decades.