The Chateau Frontenac is a historic luxury hotel located in Old Quebec City. Inaugurated in 1893, it was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1981. The hotel is in the Chateau style, especially inspired by the castles of the Loire in France.
The castle-hotel was named in honor of Louis de Buade de Frontenac, governor of New France from 1672 to 1682 and from 1689 to 16981.
The hotel is located in the Upper Town of the historic district of Old Quebec. It is visible across the St.Laurence River as the highest of Quebec's higher city monument. It overlooks Cap Diamant, and its location on the Dufferin Terrace offers a panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River. Besides the terrace, the hotel is bordered to the north by rue Saint-Louis and to the south by rue Mont-Carmel; other buildings occupy the same quadrilateral, closed by Haldimand Street to the west. The Place d'Armes extends to the north and the Place des Gouverneurs to the south. The rue des carrières and the Dufferin terrace connect the castle to Quebec's citadel to the south. Opposite the castle, a funicular connects the Petit Champlain district.
The castle was built not far from the historic site of the citadel of Quebec, on the site of the old Haldimand castle, and next to the Dufferin terrace covering the fort's archaeological site and the Saint-Louis castle.
The Chateau Frontenac is the second in a long line of 'castle' style hotels built by Canadian railways in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to popularize train travel; these hotels have, in fact, become national symbols through their elegance and comfort.
At the end of the 19th century, Quebec's city wanted to equip itself with a large landmark-rated hotel. In 1890, the architect Eugène-Étienne Taché presented his preliminary project for the fortress-type hotel. It would be an imposing building comprising a luxury hotel and a grand opera house, whose symmetrical plan flanked by three round towers recalls French châteaux of the Loire.
The first phase of the Château Frontenac construction, ordered by the Canadian Pacific Railway, began in 18922. The chosen project was that of the American architect Bruce Price, who had already built the Windsor station in Montreal.
From the start of the project, Bruce Price designed a building that successive additions could enlarge the hotel, and the hotel will be subject to expansions in 1897, 1908, 1920, and 1990.
Work on the Riverview Wing (literally “View of the River”) was completed in 1893, and the hotel was an immediate success.
The Citadel wing was added in 1899. The Mont-Carmel wing was built from 1908 to 1909 according to plans by W.S. Painter. The hotel was further extended in 1919, and the Saint-Louis wing and the central tower were added between 1920 and 1924. The hotel was unfortunately damaged in a fire in 1926, but the interior was rebuilt soon after.
The coat of arms designed by architect Eugène-Étienne Taché for Frontenac has been incorporated in several places in the hotel, notably on the entrance arch's exterior wall. A stone dated 1647, coming from the Saint-Louis castle and engraved with a Maltese cross, is inlaid in the arch leading to the courtyard. Edward Maxwell designed Rondel-type stained glass windows.
The general architecture of the main tower of Château Frontenac has great similarities with that of the Château de l'Isle-Savary, located in the town of Clion-sur-Indre (France).
The Château Frontenac now has five wings and a central tower. Its asymmetrical plan includes an interior courtyard. The architect wanted to leave options for further expansions of the hotel. The structure is built of gray ashlar and orange Glenboig bricks, which hides a steel frame.
Several of its elements are typical of the Chateau style, such as the steeply pitched roof, the massive towers and the circular and polygonal turrets, the ornate gables and dormers, the tall chimneys, the row of false machicolations above the windows of the third floor, high-quality materials and spectacular setting. The roofs are made of copper.
The Château Frontenac is one of the most photographed hotel in the world. It is also one of the monuments most associated with Old Quebec City and Quebec as a whole. Visitors that do not stay at the hotel can walk through the lobby and visit some lower-floor boutiques. The Chateau Frontenac is now operated as one of Fairmont's luxury hotels.