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All About Gastown: A Historical Snapshot

  • Gastown was originally incorporated as "Granville" in 1870, before it became part of the City of Vancouver in 1886; however, the area is more commonly known by its famous nickname "Gastown" after Captain John "Gassy Jack" Deighton.
  • Captain John "Gassy Jack" Deighton built Gastown's first saloon in a mere 24 hours after his arrival on the south shore of the Burrard Inlet. He was assisted by a team of thirsty sawmill workers, whose nearest saloon was 25 kilometres away in New Westminster. The new Globe Saloon was an instant success.
  • Almost all the buildings in the area date to between 1886 and 1914, from the period after the Great Fire of 1886 and before the economic difficulties brought on by World War I.
  • The distinctive buildings found in Gastown represent some of Vancouver's finest architectural heritage. The consistent masonry expression is a result of a building bylaw that required fire-proof construction as a response to the Great Fire of 1886.
  • The Great Fire of 1886 destroyed the city of Vancouver in 20 minutes. It began as a clearing fire in Yaletown, and high winds carried it out of control and over to Gastown.
  • Gastown is home to the world's first steam clock. The historic steam clock was built in 1977 by horologist Raymond Saunders, who modelled it after an 1875 design. It is one of the most popular and frequently photographed sites in Vancouver.
  • Gastown is home to Vancouver's first city jail which consisted of two small, unlocked log cells. After it burned to the ground in the 1886 fire, the jail was replaced by a fire hall. The building is now referred to as Gaoler's Mews.
  • The Europe hotel was the first fireproof hotel built in western Canada, designed as a 'flat-iron' shaped building for its triangular-shaped lot. The building was renovated in 1983 to provide affordable housing units.
  • The threats of freeway construction and urban renewal in the 1960s brought uproar among activists who wanted to preserve the area's heritage. As a result, the City of Vancouver requested that the province declare the area a historic district. In 1971, Gastown was declared a heritage zone, protecting its unique buildings from the threat of demolition.
  • Gastown is currently undergoing a significant economic revitalization. An increase in development permits and retail occupancy, as well as the new Storyeum attraction, are bringing more life to this charming part of the city. New construction projects like Storyeum are building historical facades to match the other buildings and preserve the atmosphere and appearance of the area.
  • Today's Gastown is a lively collection of shops, art galleries, antique stores, offices, studios and ethnic restaurants housed in dozens of restored and refurbished heritage buildings. It is a magnet for thousands of tourists and locals.
  • "A city founded by a bartender can't be all bad." - Jack Leshgold, Gastown businessman.


Media contacts
Kyla Leslie
Marketing Assistant
E:[email protected]
  Kathleen Harvey
Director of Sales
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