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Historic Old Gastown Neighborhood with a Steam Powered Clock in Vancouver, Canada

Updated on December 31, 2017
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Gastown in Vancouver, Canada

Historic Gastown street
Historic Gastown street | Source

Vancouver's Gastown

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.

Statue of "Gassy Jack" in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Statue of "Gassy Jack" in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. | Source

Jack Deighton

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.

Water Street, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada
Water Street, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada | Source

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.

Gastown, Vancouver, BC.
Gastown, Vancouver, BC. | Source

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.

Tourists are entertained by the Gastown, Vancouver, Canada steam clock.
Tourists are entertained by the Gastown, Vancouver, Canada steam clock. | Source

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.

Steam Clocks

There are very few functioning steam clocks in the world and several of them just happen to be in Canada. This particular one was built by clockmaker Raymond Saunders in 1977. Every quarter hour it has a whistle chime that plays the Westminster Quarters.

Gastown Steam Clock

Steam Powered Clocks

Have you ever seen a steam powered clock?

See results

Gastown in Vancouver, Canada

Gastown in Vancouver, Canada:
Gastown, Vancouver, BC V6B, Canada

get directions

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      That clock is certainly an attention grabber. Wishing you a wonderful new year also and hope you are surrounded by legions of angels.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      There can't be many steam powered clocks in operation these days. It is the only one that I have ever seen in person or heard it when it whistled. Stay warm up there tonight! It is supposed to be mid-20's in Houston tonight! Brr! Appreciate the votes and share.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      How cool that clock is. I would not mind having one of those on my street corner. My wish to travel to Canada one day and this would definitely be a stop I would make

      Happy New Year to you Peggy...been wanting to say that for four days. Wishing you much happiness and joy this year.

      Angels are on the way to you and your loved ones. ps

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      4 years ago from North Texas

      Very interesting and great photos as usual. I don't think I've ever heard of a steam powered clock before. This looks like a great place to keep in mind for summer vacation. Right now it's so cold here in N. Texas it's hard to believe in just a few weeks it will be horrible hot again.

      Voting this article up and BAUI, sharing with followers.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas


      There is so much to see and do in the beautiful city of Vancouver. We spent 5 days there while on vacation one year and could have spent much more time. I think that you would really enjoy visiting there! Other hubs tell more of the story!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      I've never even thought about visiting Vancouver before this; that's what I love so much about HubPages. I enjoyed this hub -- both the history and the photos. I would now love to visit. Voted up and more!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi truthfornow,

      This hub merely featured just the Gastown neighborhood which is a small older part of Vancouver. We were introduced to it when taking a tour of the city. To see more of Vancouver, check out my other related hubs. We fell in love with that gorgeous city...especially Stanley Park. Thanks for your comment. Hope you get to visit up there someday.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Gail Meyers,

      Gastown is just one of the interesting old neighborhoods in Vancouver. If you plan a visit there, you should see it and many other places as well. We were introduced to it on a tour of the city. Vancouver is a great and scenic city! Thanks for your votes and comment.

    • truthfornow profile image

      Marie Hurt 

      6 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Like the idea of cobblestone streets and the steam clock. You did a good job of detailing the history of the city and generating my interest in visiting one day. Thanks.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Mary,

      The neighborhood of Gastown is old and quaint but that steamclock out on the sidewalk in a public area that operates every quarter hour and plays a tune really sets it apart. It is the only operational steam driven clock that I have ever seen...and there are not that many in the entire world. Appreciate your comment, vote and the share.

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 

      6 years ago from Kansas City - United States

      I have never been there, but it looks like it would be a fabulous place to visit! I love unique, quaint places as this appears to be. Thanks for sharing this information. Voted up and useful.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      What an interesting place this must be to visit. I couldn't believe a steam powered clock!!

      I did spend a little time in Vancouver when my daughter worked in Seattle, but I didn't have the time to spend like I would have liked.

      You have been so fortunate to have visited the places you write about.

      Voted UP and will share.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi alocsin,

      We first were introduced to Gastown when we took a tour of Vancouver. Then we went back on our own to see more of that historic neighborhood. It was the first steam clock that we had ever seen, and it is not only unusual but certainly draws attention as it regularly goes through its cycles. Thanks for your comment and votes.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Your descriptions of Gastown remind me a lot of the old part of Seattle, not to far from Vancouver. Alas, I missed this area when I was in Vancouver. That steam clock sounds fascinating -- never heard of one before. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello ss sneh,

      Yes there were many native (red) Indians living in North America prior to its being "discovered" by people from other continents. There are a great number of beautiful totem poles in the Vancouver area that came from the Indian tribes and museums are filled with artifacts from the Indian tribe settlements of long ago. Glad that you enjoyed this history of the Gastown area in Vancouver.

    • ss sneh profile image

      ss sneh 

      9 years ago from the Incredible India!

      Hi! Nice historical description of evolution of Vancouver!

      I am surprised to hear that natives were Indians(you mean red Indians isn't it?) -- Thanks

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jimmy,

      I see you are working your way through a good many of my travel hubs. Since you are planning a re-visit to Vancouver Island in the future...and if you are also going to get back to Vancouver on the mainland, be SURE and visit Stanley Park. Great place to visit with lots to do and see.

      The suspension bridge is nearby...not actually in Stanley Park. See this hub: Vancouver's famous Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Jimmy Fuentes profile image

      Jimmy Fuentes 

      10 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga

      We walked to the Gaslamp district (should have taken the bikes from the hotel - quite a ride), anyway, we found all kinds of restaurants and other neat little shops. A very good time. We meant to get over to stanley park but we weren't able to. Isn't there a suspension bridge in the park ? I thought someone said something about that.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My pleasure, Enelle. There is so much to like about Vancouver and that entire area! Happy that you liked this and thanks for the comment.

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 

      10 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      I live about an hour's drive (can you tell I'm Canadian? LOL) from Vancouver, and it was especially nice to read about one of our landmarks on hubpages. Thanks for the great review :D

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Melody, I agree! Thanks.

      Hi Nolimits Nana,

      Yes, I had read that about Vancouver and after seeing it, I am not surprised. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Nolimits Nana 

      10 years ago

      Another great Vancouver hub.

      Did you know that Vancouver is listed as the 4th most desirable city in the world?

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 

      10 years ago from Philippines

      Wonderful place.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Mardi,

      We missed the nightlife in Gastown but from what I read and from what you just said, it is obviously a fun place to be. Thanks for the comment.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pete,

      We took a tour of Vancouver (which we almost always do when in a new area) and the unusual clock was pointed out to us. When we went back on our own time, we got a close up look and got to listen to it as it piped out it's melody on the quarter hour.

      OK......I'm done for now describing Vancouver. Granville Island is another great place to visit and we spent a chunk of a day there. Chinatown, etc., I'll leave some topics for others to describe.

      We did as much as we could in our 5 days there and have loads of memories. Vancouver is a great place! If I would ever go back, I would concentrate on seeing other things next time, but would probably want to stay in that same hotel. The views were gorgeous!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi Winder-Adams 

      10 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      Ah, Gastown, a great place to go for music and food. I spent many an evening at the Lamplighter playing pool and enjoying a beer or two!

    • Pete Maida profile image

      Pete Maida 

      10 years ago

      A 16ft high steam clock; I guess I missed that.


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