Standing at the intersection of Carrall and Water street, in downtown Vancouver, we stare up at the statue of “Gassy” Jack Deighton, the owner of the first saloon in an area we now call ‘Gastown’.
During it’s brief claim to fame as the ‘wild side’ of Vancouver, Gastown had more than 300 saloon and parlours. Their clientele were the seamen and dockworkers who visited or called the harbour home.
Following the Great Vancouver Fire in 1886, the area was rebuilt and thrived as the centre of the cities produce distribution area, and also the cities drinking life. Within a 12 block area there were 300 licensed saloons, bars and clubs, and catered to the transient maritime crowd, in addition to locals from the area.
When the Great Depression occurred in the 1930’s, this colourful area of the city declined and soon became a largely forgotten area of the city for several decades.
In the 1960’s this area was selected for a possible route for a major highway into the core of the city. Luckily concerned citizens started a campaign to save the historical value of this area, and the plan to build the freeway was scrapped and a restoration effort started to restore many of the buildings.
Within a few decades, ‘Gastown’ became a trendy area with many boutique shops, clubs and restaurants that continues to attract an ever growing number of international visitors and locals as well.
To dispel any rumours, we were only there for the stories and images we recorded.