Hotel Vancouver Griffin

Simple black griffin holding a torch


Colourful Heraldic Badge with griffin in a crown holding a torch with wings on it


simple black logo of a griffin sitting in a crown holding a torch


Original Griffin

In 1964, shortly after the hotel’s rehabilitation program was launched, architects, Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners, called on the design consultant firm of Hopping, Kovach, Grinnell Ltd. to help create an appropriate logo for the new Hotel Vancouver. Intrigued by the unique architectural feature and its historical significance, designer, Rudy Kovach, conceived the idea of adopting the griffin as the official symbol of the Hotel. Kovach explored the potential learning all he could about griffins. His pet even became known affectionately as ‘Griff’.


The griffin – usually represented with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle – is one of mythology’s most ancient devices, appearing on artifacts more than 3000 years old. Heraldry assigns to the griffin, “beneficent qualities of guardianship and vigilance, combining the keen vision, alertness, and swiftness of the eagle with the courage and strength of the lion.”


Heraldic Badge

When Canadian Pacific Hotels bought back Hotel Vancouver in 1988, it was agreed that the hotel’s destiny was a classically restored heritage hotel. As a result, it became necessary that the griffin symbol should also be modified to reflect the historic institution. Having some knowledge of heraldry, General Manager, Ian Powell, decided that a heraldic badge granted by the Crown was appropriate for such a landmark rather than simply commissioning an artist.


Mr. Rober S. DeMone, as Chairman, President and CEO of Canadian Pacific Hotels was then asked to petition the Crown for a grant of a Heraldic Badge and on May 21st, 1995, the petition was granted and a new symbol was created to incorporate not only the griffin but many other symbolic elements.


There are two main elements, a crown and a griffin; these are described below.

The crown is of dressed or polished stone in gold to represent the limestone which is the outside of the Hotel. Around the crown are two wavy blue lines which symbolize the water that is such a part of Vancouver. The top of the crown is “castle-like” and on top of these merlons are green pyramids with their points removed to portray the most visible external element of Hotel Vancouver – its green roof.


The griffin of which the top portion only is visible is also gold with its wings being highlighted in blue. Griffins were carved on the external walls of the hotel because, as the barkless hound of Zeus, it was the guardian of the entrance to the underworld and protector of the traveller. The right claw of the griffin has a flaming green torch in it, which has stem wings. This torch is to symbolically light the way for all those who work within the hotel, and its wings come from the Wings of Hermes that can be found above the main entrance on West Georgia Street. Hermes is the protecting God of the traveller.


Created by Robert D. Watt, Cheif Herald of Canada, assisted by the Heralds of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. Painted by Linda Nicholson. Calligraphy by Nancy Ellis.



Modern Griffin

In 2018, in anticipation of the completion of the $75M renovation and the hotel’s 80th anniversary on May 29, 2019, it was decided that the hotel would undertake a re-branding to define the next chapter of its legacy by leveraging the past to create its new look for the future.

Hotel Vancouver engaged the award-winning creative agency 123West, who developed the new modern griffin which blends the meaningful elements of the heraldic badge with the simplicity of the 1960s version.


Keep an eye out when you’re visiting, because griffins can be found throughout the hotel – woven into carpets, etched in the elevator doors, carved in the moldings, gazing down from the exterior stone… and many other watchful places.

Blog photo of Hotel Vancouver's green copper roof with griffin gargoyles carved into the building.

Hotel Exterior

Doors in the Pacific Ballroom with a sculpture of two griffins above

Pacific Ballroom Decor

Up close of carpet showing a griffin woven into it

Pacific Ballroom Carpet

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