Checking In: Toronto’s St. Regis Hotel
One of the many inspiring aspects of travel is delving into history. Whether it is walking in philosopher’s sandal steps atop the Acropolis, tracing Napoleon’s legendary campaigns through Europe or hopping a train across Canada, packing a suitcase is often the first step on a journey into unpacking the past. And sometimes history reveals itself in the unlikeliest of places.
That happened to me during a recent stay at the St. Regis Hotel in the heart of Toronto’s bustling business district. The St. Regis brand was founded 119 years ago by John Jacob Astor IV, an accomplished U.S. businessman, real estate developer, writer and lieutenant-colonel in the Spanish-American war. Seven years earlier, in 1897, he built the Astoria Hotel in New York City, then billed as “the world’s most luxurious hotel.” His life was cut short at the age of 47 when he perished in the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Legend has it that after loading his wife into a lifeboat and ordering a mother and child to take the remaining two seats, he was last seen alive on the starboard bridge smoking a cigarette with mystery writer Jacques Futrelle. Ten days following the sinking, his body was found floating in the sea.