The city of Vancouver is made up of several small neighbourhoods, each of which has it’s own unique flair that helps to separate it from the others. The last few weeks we have been exploring as much of the city as possible, trying to visit as many of these locations, while sharing our favourite pictures and telling stories about the city. Today we’re going to visit the oldest neighbourhood in the city – known today as Gastown – which was founded in 1867. This part of town gained importance when “Gassy Jack” Deighton arrived to open the first pub to serve the growing community on the Burrard Inlet.
The city was incorporated in 1867 (then known as Granville) and Jack Deighton’s bar was such an important part of the city, that arriving sailors and residents referred to the city as Gastown in honour of the city’s most famous resident. The Hastings Mill and newly constructed railroad ensured that this part of town would be one of the first building blocks of the new city, which would eventually grow up to become the world class city it is today.
When “Gassy Jack” Deighton arrived in the newly created city of Granville, he was the first to open a bar at the request of Capitan Edward Stack who owned the nearby the Hastings Mill, it was constructed by idle workers who wanted a place to drink. Legend has it that it took only 24 hours to build the bar, and it was named the Globe Saloon after his previous bar in New Westminster. This was the first step for Vancouver becoming the city it is today.
What makes Gastown & the East Side so amazing?
Gassy Jack – the nickname came from his “long winded” style of speaking – was born in England, and traveled around the world as a ship captain before he settled in British Columbia. He apparently had many incredible stories of his adventures, which is why he was so well known in the area. While the bar itself no longer exists, there is a statue of Gassy Jack at the corner of Water and Carall Streets where this first bar was located.
Vancouver is a young city, and many of these older buildings represent the first permanent structures in the city, mostly built after the great Vancouver fire of 1886, which destroyed all but two of the young city’s buildings. Vancouver has always been a port city, and the boundaries of Gastown were surrounding the newly created port on the Burrard Inlet.
Gastown has been transformed from a primarily warehouse district into a posh shopping and tourist destination, and many of the older buildings have been restored to reflect some of their former glory. This was the location of the original settlement on the Burrard Inlet, and the city has spread out from this location. Visiting Gastown is the best way to get a feel for the way the old city looked, and its historical significance makes it one of the most popular destinations for visitors today.