Hotel searching for missing goose gargoyle

The Fairmont Palliser's general manager Dan McGowan poses with one of the hotel's bird-like...

The Fairmont Palliser's general manager Dan McGowan poses with one of the hotel's bird-like gargoyles. The other one is missing. (Darren Makowichuk/QMI Agency)

Michael Platt, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:58 PM ET

CALGARY -- Chances are, it’s sitting in some Calgary garden, sharing an anonymous place in the soil between the gnomes and marigolds.

Better yet, it’s safe on an indoor shelf somewhere, doing duty as a feathered knick knack for some bird lover.

It’s the goose with a golden past — and though its current owner may not realize it, the ceramic ornament in their midst has prestigious history in this city.

And now, the Palliser Hotel wants its bird back.

“It’s valuable to us — there were two, and we’re searching for the sister,” said Jacqueline Tyler, communications manager for The Fairmont Palliser.

“We just don’t know what happened to it. We did an internal call for any information on it, and nothing came up. We thought this was the perfect chance to ask the public.”

On June 1, 1914, the missing goose — more properly described as a ceramic gargoyle — was guest of honour at the opening of Calgary’s brand new Canadian Pacific Railway hotel.

As opulent as railway money could buy a century ago, the New York-inspired Palliser featured marble columns, oak floors and hand-made rugs, plus original art and detailing crafted from the finest materials.

The Western Standard newspaper gushed over the stunning new hotel and its fancy fixings — the article, preserved by the Calgary Public Library, is almost wet with drool.

“The floor of the rotunda, vestibule, entrance hall and elevator hall is of grey Tennessee marble, and the columns that support the roof are finished in Botticino marble, with sylvan green marble for the bases. The entire ground floor with the exception of the dining room and ladies’ drawing room, is fitted in fumed oak,” it reads.

But the geese were truly special: If Montreal architects E. and W.S. Maxwell were proud of anything in the $1.5 million hotel, it was the ornate fireplace gracing the hotel cafe — and photos of the mantel and the twin birds can still be found in McGill University’s Canadian Architecture Collection.


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