Hotel Vancouver Eighty Years of Iconic Moments

LADY IN RED Dennis Gocer/The Collective You

HOTEL VANCOUVER proudly presents 80 YEARS OF ICONIC MOMENTS by The Collective You

ETHEL Dennis Gocer/The Collective You

In the heart of Vancouver Centre, the historic Vancouver Fairmont Hotel reigns with a sophistication of a past age. Known as the “Castle in the City,” she is a grand lady, with many stories held safe within her elegant interiors. Originally built by the Canadian National Railway, Vancouver Hotel belongs to the an exclusive club that includes, amongst others, the Banff Springs Hotel and Château Frontenac.

CARVER Dennis Gocer/The Collective You
BELLMAN Dennis Gocer/The Collective You

Considered one of the British Empire’s grandest hotels, Vancouver Hotel was built in the ornate grand Italianate revival style. Famous guests included Winston Churchill, Sarah Bernhardt and Babe Ruth.

In 2019, the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver celebrated its 80th anniversary with a contemporary photo exhibition by photographer, Dennis Gocer.

ROY Dennis Gocer/The Collective You
MARIE Dennis Gocer/The Collective You

This is your invitation to travel back in time to 2019 to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of Iconic Moments. The following text is taken from the plaque describing the exhibition. I have also included the plaques that capture the stories held in the portraits.

HOTEL VANCOUVER 80 Years of Iconic Moments

“Officially opened in 1939 by HRH King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver has watched the city grow up around it. In homage to its storied past, the hotel collaborated with international portrait photographer Dennis Gocer of The Collective You to create a photo exhibition that re-imagines eight decades of iconic moments, offering a contemporary lens on traditional storytelling. Captured throughout the property, the scenes convey a timeless fashion story complemented by diamond jewellery provided exclusively from De Beers Jewellers, including the Mosaic Necklace which boasts 1,314 diamonds and a total carat weight of 145.65 cts”

Iconic moments that inspired the new photographs include a celebrity photo opp, a no-nonsense housekeeper with a love for classics, a craftsman that wanted to leave a reminder of the past, and a spirited socialite who has kept residence at the hotel since 1944 without paying a cent for her stay.”

Dennis Gocer is an international portrait photographer, born and raised in Vancouver, BC. Founder and Creative Director of The Collective You, Dennis has created portraits for brands such as Burberry, De Beers, Tesla and Omega. His work has been published internationally in Vogue, Wallpaper*, and Vanity Fair in partnership with DE BEERS special thanks to abc photo.”

71 Thoughts

      1. The dress on the original cover was somewhat like this to say the least!!!. Alas I don’t know what happened to Amber Shah who designed that cover. I know she had some probs with that publisher
        but we kept in touch for quite a while. When I got my rights back to that book I’d have liked to have bought the license for the cover but it was not to be. But yes, red is afav colour for me too for the same reasons,xxxx

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me at the Vancouver Hotel. There is a wonderful lounge with a pianist at the keyboards. Have a wonderful day – thank you for your comments. Very much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Sylvia, you have the best one-liners. I am delighted that you came back in time with me. Whenever I enter these magnificent hotels, I envision hearing the music of the Big Band era as the dancers move across ballroom under the glittering chandelier lights. I LOVED that red dress. Sending many hugs your way!!!!

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Dear Rebecca,
    GREAT photography, indeed! And grand.
    Thanks for sharing. It’s like time travel, isn’t it?
    With lots of love ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ and hugs 🤗 🤗 🤗 🤗
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I knew you would like the photography, Klausbernd. I found Dennis Gocer on Instagram, where he posts in black and white. Which now has me interested in the characteristics of black and white photography and how it relates to the messages given and received. I am going through my father photos which are mostly in black and white. My emotional responses are different when I see his photos in colour. Yes!!! Photography is time travel, Klausbernd – and I am glad that you came over to my side of the world. Sending many hugs and love to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. I really like the name of artist Gocer’s enterprise, The Collective You. If the Vancouver Hotel were a person, can you just imagine all the people and experiences held within its walls?! Just as an individual is shaped by all its fleeting and lasting encounters, this grand hotel with its elegance and historical importance must be likewise affected in ways mysterious and common to all. Let’s do have lunch there some day…we can add to its ambiance! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That is a wonderful idea, Mary Jo. It’s a date! Once social distancing protocol is lifted, I will make arrangements for lunch, take my phone with me and connect via zoom at the table. I will then show you around the building and then we can head over to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Stay tuned! Hugs and more hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me, Martina. How easy it is to travel virtually, without the worry of jet lack or expenses associated with travel. The Hotel opened on May 25, 1939 with 1,000 attending a dinner and dancing event. Can you imagine dancing to the sounds of Len Hopkins and his Chateau Laurier Orchestra in long elegant gowns.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A very insightful thought, Martina. Over the years, I have seen the democratization of buildings continue, which mirrors the overall society. For example, when I visited Great Britain, I found that the grand houses had been rescued by the National Trust for the people. I was amazed by the beauty of Schloss Herrenchiemsee which also belongs to the people. The best thought that came out of my economic courses was a quote by Adam Smith: “No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” I enjoy our conversations!

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Fortunately, as you say Rebecca, many precious objects have been rescued in England by the National Trust, but I have read an article in which the Royals seemed to have complained because of all their losses due to the shutdowns and the consequent reduction of castles entries! I haven’t visited the Schloss Herrenchiemsee, but we passed by it:)
        Due to the fact that Switzerland has never been a Monarchy we do not possess these luxurious palaces, but in Bellinzona there are three “Burgen” medieval castles, which served more to protect the region. – I still remember your comment- But we have famous “Kurhäuser” where people arrived from many places to get healthy, or maybe they just enjoyed to be sick!! (Thomas Mann The Magic Mountain) Me, too, I am enjoying our conversation and many thanks!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Dave. Now that I have read “A Gentleman in Moscow” I have come to imagine that the Metropol is very much like our Vancouver Hotel. I was reading up on the Metropol and found that it opened in 1905 and is situated on Theatre Square in the historic heart of Moscow next to the Bolshoi. Vancouver Hotel and the Vancouver Art Gallery are neigbours. What is most remarkable is that these Hotels move with the motions of time and easily connect with new generations. It is natural to think that stories belong only to living creatives. But I would suggest that creative endeavours have enduring stories that continue to evolve.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you for this portrayal of this classic place…I have never been there, but I feel like I have, via your post. That photograph of the ‘Lady in red’ is quite stunning. Your post does conjure up the feeling of stepping back in time, and in so grand a space!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There are many stories of the “Lady in Red” sightings. In fact, there is a photo, which was taken from the outside of the hotel, that showed a figure in red at the window. Entering those gleaming doors, is indeed stepping back in time. There was a recent renovation which brought the hotel back to its lovely beginnings. Thank you for stepping back into time with me.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Canada’s famous “railway hotels” have remarkable histories and speak of a time of progress where travel opened up an immense country. I was just reading about the history of the Newfoundland Hotel which was opened July 1926 and was pictured on a 1928 postage stamp. So many stories are held deep within the architecture, a reminder to take a closer look at what is around us.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Ah, yes the Vancouver Fairmont Hotel, now eighty years’ standing proud, just great. An important contribution to Canada’s history, along with the Château Frontenac and the Banff Springs Hotels. I first stayed at the Fairmont when it was slightly less than half of its present celebration year, and many times after on trips to Vancouver. I also enjoyed staying at the Banff Springs H tel and, of course, Québec C ty’s Château Frontenac. Though of all three the Fairmont had the most appeal to me, much so due to the city of Vancouver and that western hospitality. As to the famous guests having included Winston Churchill, Sarah Bernhardt and Babe Ruth, I vaguely recall an aspiring poet, also staying at the Fairmont, though at a much later date. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name.

    Once again, dear Rebecca, another of your captivating stories, and one that hits home for me, as having enjoyed personally and on a number of occasions, the hospitality of the wonderful Vancouver Fairmont Hotel. Though, of course, you realize not at the time as your referred three famous guest! Thank you, my friend.

    Jean-Jacques

    >

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Château Frontenac – what a fabulous hotel. I was reading that this hotel is the most photographed hotel in the world. I must look back into my photos of our visit to Quebec City several years ago. Incidentally, I have found the poet’s name who stayed at the Hotel Vancouver: Jean-Jacques Fournier. I knew him personally!!! When I visited the Banff Spring Hotel, there were photos that documented that for Victorian England, travel to Canada was the epitome of adventure. You must come back to Vancouver once the travel restriction are lifted. The Hotel Vancouver is waiting for your arrival. Thank you for joining me virtually!

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Thank you for this historic look into one of the most famous buildings in Canada. The building itself is proof of Vancouver and its long story! The front of the building shows very plainly the style of construction of the time and has weathered the many years extremely well. It represents Vancouver very well, and the comments that have been added are so appropriate–this is truly a grand building. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for joining me at the Hotel Vancouver, Frances. I agree wholeheartedly that this building represents Vancouver very well. I especially appreciate Frank Gehry’s quote about the design of great buildings. “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” The name, “Castle in the Sky,” given to Hotel Vancouver reflects this thought. Happy International Day, Frances. Thank you for being an excellent role model over the years!! You continue to inspire me. Many hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Have you noticed that I’m trying to entice you to visit our fair city, Julie!??? Thank you for your heartwarming comments. We travel the world together. As Anaïs Nin writes with her elegant phrasing (although via translation) “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” Can you imagine all the effort and time she took to draft manuscripts in longhand in her native French, and later in English, with selected sections in Spanish. YIKES!!! Sending many hugs your way.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Liz – you have just made my day!!!! I am delighted to hear that you will be coming out our way. Vancouver is waiting for your arrival. We must have tea at the Hotel Vancouver. I’m certain that we will see The Lady in Red. I felt her presence when I was walking the corridors in 2019. A delicious energy!!!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Robbie – so do I! While most would say that ghosts do not exist, I remember the quote by William Shakespeare in Hamlet: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” While I may have taken this quote out of context, there are mysteries that have yet to be explained. I rather like the idea of not knowing everything. Life is much more exciting when there is more to explore and experience.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Rebecca, it is [in my opinion] best to be open minded. I have not seen a ghost but I have passed through patches of both positive and negative energy in places that are known to be occupied by spirits. People have experienced ghostly phenomenon and written about their experiences for centuries. It would be a bit arrogant of me to assume they are all wrong just because I haven’t had the same experiences. I also think that seeing the possibilities for more than the obvious in life, makes everything so much more interesting.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Cindy, for joining me at the Hotel Vancouver. There is an energy that comes with a building that has seen Vancouver grow up around her. The other hotel that I want to feature is Hotel Georgia which is just across the street from The Vancouver Art Gallery and Hotel Vancouver. It opened in May 17, 1927 and was renovated in July 2011. I have often wondered about the connection between the two hotels. Guests of Hotel Georgia included Nat King Cole, Prince of Wales (Duke of Windsor) Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and John Wayne. Errol Flynn died while a guest at the hotel in 1959 (not at the hotel but at a nearby apartment of a friend) So many stories held safe in the walls of buildings.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for joining me at the Vancouver Hotel, Marina. When you visit Vancouver, you must chose the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which is pet friendly. Hera would be welcomed with open arms!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad you joined me at the Hotel Vancouver, Teagan. I find that the photo/story combination enhances the power of narrative. Think about the books covers of your “Dead of Winter” series. Each cover acts as the doorway to the words that are waiting just beyond the threshold. Hugs coming back on swift wings!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This is fabulous, Rebecca! Although Canada lacks the palaces and grand residences of European history, we do have some very iconic buildings.
    How could we have a 500 year old castle, when our country was first settled by Samuel De Champlain in 1608? Of course that is the European version. You, me and the maple tree know there were already people here.

    The CNR, and all other railroads built many stunning hotels during the settling of Canada. Hotel Vancouver is a most prime example. Its history is done a justice by Dennis Grocer.

    I always thought that the Hotel Fort Gary, in Winnipeg was a CNR hotel.
    Turns out it was built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1913.

    Circa early1990’s, my sister Jacquie (RIP) was working the door at the night club in the Hotel Fort Gary. She told the story of the night B.B. King was playing there.

    Musicians always came in the back. B.B. came in the front. Not recognizing him, she refused him entry. The cover was $10.00 (I seem to remember). She was adamant.
    He paid the cover for himself, and whomever was with him.
    Later, she noticed him in the band. She thought this was the funniest thing, ever. It was a point of pride. B.B. had paid the cover to get into his own gig. She was a unique person.

    Your wonderful post, has made me happy, in many ways.
    Thank you, Rebecca! {{{hugs}}}

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dearest Resa, you have the most incredible stories and experiences. How I would have loved to meet your sister Jacquie! I am envisioning her demanding an cover cost to enter the front door. I LOVE BB King, his stories and his way of embracing life during a time of extraordinary transition. As he says: “Sometimes I just think that there are more things to be said to make the audience understand what I’m trying to do more. When I’m singing, I don’t want you to just hear the melody. I want you to relive the story, because most of the songs have pretty good storytelling.” Storytelling is in our souls – it is a creative force that overcomes barriers of bias, stereotyping to bring us authenticity and courage. Thank you for your stories, Resa – they add a profound joy to my days.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. WOW Resa! I love the vibrant colours and the sway of the ballroom dancers in “stories.” Paul’s photography is remarkable, each portrait unique. Thank you for the introduction. I especially like his words: “Whenever I see a great photograph I start hearing music in my head still. A great photograph can summon many things and stir many feelings, it can illuminate…yet despite this it can still hold its mystery and remain somehow unknowable.” What a profound definition of photography. Thank you so much!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds like a plan! My sister in law always wanted to take me to Victoria for High Tea. There’s something wonderful about the ritual of tea, and it’s amazing how many countries have a version of it.

        Liked by 2 people

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