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VIP & Celebrity Guests At The King Edward Hotel

November 5, 2012



The King Edward Hotel in Toronto has been – and continues to be – host to VIPs and celebrity guests from around the world and throughout the years since it opened in 1903.


During early planning stages the hotel was originally going to be named the Palace Hotel to honour Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria died in 1901 and, unfortunately, never once set foot in Canada during her reign.

Her son – before becoming King Edward VII – made several visits to Toronto when he was Prince of Wales. 

Edward made his first visit in 1860, and among the Toronto sites he visited were St. Lawrence Hall

St. James Cathedral

and Toronto’s first City Hall (parts of which were kept for the current St. Lawrence Market building).

All of these places were located back then in what was considered the centre of Toronto – and all within close proximity to The King Edward Hotel.

King Edward’s reign lasted for only a short nine years – from January 1901 until his death in May 1910, and unfortunately the king was never to visit the hotel that became his namesake.

The first “royal” visit was by the King’s representative and Vice-Regal, the Governor General of Canada and his wife, Lord Minto and Lady Minto at the formal opening of the hotel on Friday, May 22nd 1903 – with the King Edward Hotel hosting the Royal Canadian Yacht Club Ball.

Always a highlight of the social season, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club Ball took place in the hotel’s second-floor glass vaulted Grand Ballroom (also known at the time as the American Dining Room)

and whose great semi-circular window can still be seen today from the south as part of the current Vanity Ballroom.

Another King Edward, then Prince of Wales (future King Edward VIII who became the Duke of Windsor after his abdication in 1936) and his younger brother Prince George (future King George VI) visited Toronto in August 1927.


Although the two princes did not stay at the King Edward Hotel, they did attend a State Dinner there on Saturday, 6th August 1927.  They were in town to open the new Union Station and dedicate the Princes Gates at the Exhibition Grounds, staying at Government House in the city’s upscale and rich neighbourhood of Rosedale.

Other members of the British Royal family who graced the hotel with a visit:

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburough

Princess Margaret

Princess Anne

Another royal British prince to stay at the King Edward Hotel more recently is Prince William

Like earlier royals – and other VIP celebrities – the prince stayed in the hotel’s Royal Suite.

King Juan Carlos of Spain

King Carl Gustaf of Sweden

Another royal representative and Governor-General to stay at the King Edward Hotel was Michaëlle Jean.

Actors & Movie Stars & TV Personalities:

Johnston Forbes-Robertson

Rudolph Valentino

Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks

Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor

In 1964, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor caused quite a scandal when angry protesters picketed outside the King Edward Hotel when they discovered that the couple – both married to different people at the time – were staying at the hotel in the same suite together.

Shirley Temple

Mickey Rooney

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Another famous Hollywood couple to stay at the King Edward Hotel is Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Bill Cosby

Joan Rivers

Burt Reynolds

Julie Andrews

Candace Bergen

Jamie Lee Curtis

Whoopi Goldberg

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jerry Seinfeld

Wesley Snipes

Kiefer Sutherland

John C. Reilly

Mandy Patinkin

Jaclyn Smith

Martin Landau

Adrian Grenier

Martha Stewart

Alex Trebek

Musicians & Pop Stars:

The Beetles

In 1964, The Beetles arrived in Toronto for their first concert at Maple Leaf Gardens. The King Edward Hotel security was so overwhelmed by screaming and hysterical fans in the lobby that the “fab-four” had to be secretly escorted out of the hotel by way of a back employee entrance.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono

The King Edward Hotel was also the place where John & Yoko staged their famous bed-in for world peace in 1969.

Tony Bennett

Celine Dion

Britney Spears

Beyonce Knowles

Peter Gabriel

Shania Twain

Bryan Adams

Leonard Cohen is not only a famous Canadian singer – he also acted in a short musical movie based on The King Edward Hotel, and filmed in the hotel title I Am a Hotel.

Leonard Cohen

The Rolling Stones


Ricky Martin

Josh Groban

Lil Wayne

Michael Bolton


Deborah Cox



Great Big Sea


Enrico Caruso

Writers & Journalists:

Mark Twain

Rudyard Kipling

Ernest Hemingway

Connie Chung

Salman Rushdie

Elizabeth Gilbert


Teddy Roosevelt

Charles De Gaulle

Lady Nancy Astor

John Diefenbaker

Margaret Thatcher

Brian Mulroney

Peter MacKay


David Beckham

Roberto Luongo

Richard (Dick) Pound


Wayne Gretzky

Other Celebrity VIPs:

J.P. Morgan

Anna Pavlova

Ivana Trump


From → celebrities

  1. Sophia permalink

    Quite a storied history! Fascinating to read

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, The King Edward hotel certainly does have a fascinating history and there are plenty of other great stories and blog posts to follow. Appreciate your interest.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Owners, General Managers & Historic Events Through The Years « History of The King Edward Hotel

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