Founded in 1867, Gastown was the origin of what is now Vancouver City. The town at the time was named after the first settler and owner of the first saloon, he was called ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton. Now when you walk down the cobbled stone streets, you will notice a bit of old history along with new architecture and cues like old antique gaslights, Victorian architecture, courtyards and passage housing boutiques. You will also notice new restaurants, and entertainment venues.
Gastown is also know for the world’s first Steam Clock and is a great tourist attraction. At each 15 minute interval the clock sounds Westminster chimes on 5 brass steam whistlers. The Steam Clock was designed and put together by Raymond Saunders in 1977 based on a 1875 model, it has a cast bronze case and weighs over 2 tons and the movement was powered by a ‘falling ball’ drive.
The saloon/hotel that started it all was burned down in the Great Fire of 1886. The fire ripped through the whole town and destroyed Vancouver, it was thought to have been started by clearing fire that went out of control by Canadian Pacific Railway. It destroyed 398 homes in about an hour, only 2 of the 400 original houses made it.
Unlike the houses that burned down in the Great Fire of 1886, “The Europe Hotel” is built to withstand fire and it was the first fireproof building in western Canada. The Europe Hotel was built by Italian businessman Angelo Colari in 1892. It was known as the finest hotel in town during those days.
In Maple Tree Square you will find the statue of Gassy Jack Deighton, there is also the Fisherhead Water Fountain stands near the Lamplighter Pub in the Dominion Hotel which was the first Vancouver business to serve alcohol to women.
If you are into Canadian art , Gastown is home to many great art galleries, with works from a selection of Canadian Native artist and sculpters in Western Canada.
Participate in a free 1.5 hour walking tour of Gastown that is conducted daily from June through August. It starts at the Gastown Steam Clock and Gassy Jack statue in Maple Tree Square, you can contact the Gastown Business Improvement Society for schedules if you are interested.
Make you way to the 300 block of West Cordova Street where you will discover street shops selling collectibles, antiques, Canadian designer fashions, and dine at cool eateries, all this on one block.
Gastown is near to Vancouver city’s downtown business area and hotels so it will be quite easy to find and west of it is the Canada Place. You can easily walk from Gastown to the Cruise Ship Terminal or the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. Heading east of Gastown you will come to Vancouver’s Chinatown and you will be very close to the Sun Yat Sen Gardens. Now going south you will discover the BC Place, Rogers Arena (formerly GM Place), and International Village.
To get to Gastown is quite easy, you can get there by SkyTrain, Vancouver’s rapid transit system, SeaBus (ferry service from the North Shore), West Coast Express and city buses from all areas of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.