Historic Old Gastown Neighborhood with a Steam Powered Clock in Vancouver, Canada
Gastown in Vancouver, Canada
To get a true historical perspective of the City of Vancouver in Canada one should visit the original site which is now known as Gastown.
This particular area dates back to the time when Canada first became a nation. Back then native Indians lived there and some of the very first white settlers developed a prosperous lumbering industry. Gold exploration also brought prospectors to what was to become Canada back in those early days.
In the lumber mills alcohol was not allowed on site. The arrival of "Gassy Jack" Deighton changed the leisure time habits of the lumbermen working at the saw mills forever.
Jack Deighton was a river boat pilot turned tavern and hotel owner. Supposedly he was a great talker and could spin tales endlessly thus the name "Gassy." He offered to bring whisky to the lumbermen if they would build him a tavern. It did not take much persuasion on his part to get that accomplished.
Soon after a hard day's work the lumbermen would cross over to Gassy Jack's tavern and enjoy some whisky and be entertained with never ending stories for hours. This they liked! Prior to that saloon being built the closest one was about 25 miles away. The saloon was part of a two story hotel named the Deighton Hotel.
Further development of the area ensued.
- In 1870 the area was called Granville named after the British colonial secretary Earl Granville. However locals still referred to it mostly as Gastown.
- In 1886 this area of Gastown was incorporated into the City of Vancouver which was named after a British explorer George Vancouver. But shortly after that a raging fire practically decimated the area. All but 2 of the original buildings burned to the ground and were ruined.
- With much effort it was once again rebuilt into a livable community when the Great Depression occurred. As with most of the country it was hit hard but did not rebound as other areas did. It turned into something of a "skid row" and was no longer a desirable area.
- Discussion among some residents in Vancouver would have had the entire area razed but there were others who wanted to preserve Gastown because of it's historic significance. Those people's ideas prevailed and in the 1960s after renovation efforts succeeded Gastown was reborn.
- The cobblestone streets and mixture of building styles makes this a unique area in which to visit today. Of course there are a great number of businesses that now call Gastown home. Tourists can find almost anything that they could desire by way of restaurants, shops, etc.
One interesting and unique landmark is the Edwardian designed Steam Clock which graces a street in Gastown. It was the very first of its kind in the world!
The Steam Clock stands 16 feet high and has a clock face on all four sides framed in antique bronze. It is powered by an underground steam mechanism that also heated buildings in the area.
One can view the steam escaping from the top of the clock and every quarter hour you can also hear the musical sounds that emanate from the world famous steam clock.
Tour buses regularly take visitors through this historic neighborhood of Gastown in Vancouver and it is one sight that will definitely add to your enjoyment of understanding the history of this third largest cosmopolitan city in all of Canada.
Gastown Steam Clock
Steam Powered Clocks
Have you ever seen a steam powered clock?
Gastown in Vancouver, Canada
© 2009 Peggy Woods