The Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta is an internationally recognized symbol of Canadian hospitality. William Cornelius Van Horne, appointed general manager of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) has been credited with recognizing the tourism potential of the Canadian west. Van Horne maintained tourism was an intricate ingredient in getting people to ride CPR and was conscious of the financial possibilities attached to the western mountain scenery. His philosophy reflected this awareness, 'Since we can't export the scenery,' he said, ' we'll have to import the tourists.' To enhance traffic on the CPR, Van Horne envisioned a succession of lavish resort hotels along the railway line through the Rocky and Selkirk Mountains.
In 1886, CPR began developing three hotels to reflect Van Horne's idea of luxurious accommodations. The Mount Stephen House at Field, the Fraser