September 27, 2009
By NICOLE BRODEUR
MONTREAL We were sitting in a Montreal hotel room that could only
be described as disheveled covers tossed across the bed, towels on
the floor, half-empty coffee cups on the table when there was a
knock on the door.
No chambermaid. No bellman. Just two middle-age women wearing meek smiles.
"We're staying in the hotel," stammered one. "And we just wanted to see ..."
"Come on in," I said, allowing two strangers into our sanctum.
So it goes when you're living in the lap of history: Room 1742 of
Montreal's Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where, in 1969, Beatle
John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, spent an eight-day Bed-in for
Peace to protest the Vietnam War.
In this hotel room, the long-haired newlyweds wore white, conducted
countless media interviews and received visitors such as Timothy
Leary and Dick Gregory before recording the cacophonous anthem, "Give
Peace a Chance," with the help of about 50 packed-in revelers.
The luxury hotel is making the most of the 40th anniversary, with a
Bed-in for Peace package available through the end of the year in
Room 1742, now known as the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite.
The Fairmont has made sure that John and Yoko are all over the room,
in framed black-and-whites taken by photographers Ted Church and
Gerry Deiter, who was at the bed-in on assignment for Life magazine.
As the story goes, the couple showed up May 26 at the Montreal hotel
without a dollar between them. The hotel set them up on the 17th
floor. Apple Records later sent a check for $10,000 to cover their stay.
It's funny about history. You don't know an event is worth
remembering or preserving until the players have left or died, the
witnesses are gone and the walls have been painted again and again.
And while it has been refurbished many times since John and Yoko
stayed here, Suite 1742 has been in steady demand for 40 years.
"Is this the bed?" asked one of the women who knocked on our hotel room door.
The exact same bed? After an eight-day bed-in with John, Yoko,
journalists, cartoonists, Hare Krishnas, deejays, Petula Clark, Allen
Ginsberg and one of the Smothers Brothers? Plus 40 years of guests?
Let's hope not.
When you go
• The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel is offering a Bed-in for Peace
package to mark the 40th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's
1969 Bed-In for Peace. The package, available through the end of the
year, includes one night in Room 1742, now known as the John Lennon
and Yoko Ono Suite; breakfast; a copy of the lyrics to "Give Peace a
Chance"; and a $50 donation in your name to the local chapter of
Amnesty International. The rate is about $703.
• To reserve, call the hotel directly at 514-861-3511. For
information on Fairmont hotels, see www.fairmont.com.
Tourism Montreal: 1-877-266-5687; www.tourisme-montreal.org