The rejuvenated section of Gastown Vancouver boasts a colourful history and an equally vibrant present.
Vancouverites have become well-known for taking run-down areas of their fine town and turning them into wonderful modern-day sites that become favorite places for both locals and visitors to hang out and enjoy the city. This section of the city is no exception.
Where It All Began
Established in the same year as Canada was declared a nation, Gastown is where Vancouver got its start. Way back in 1867, the north shore of the Burrard Inlet was a vast wilderness, with only one lumber mill located there, owned by a gentleman who wouldn’t allow alcohol on his premises.
One fine day, the story goes, “Gassy Jack” Deighton (given this name because of his penchant for long-winded stories) arrived on shore with a barrel of whiskey and asked the labourers to build him a saloon so he could serve them drinks. They did…in less than a day! Thus, Gastown was born.
A few attempts were made to change the name to something more dignified, but everyone continued to call the area Gastown. In April 1886, the little town was incorporated into the City of Vancouver. In June of the same year, the entire city burnt down.
But the citizens rebuilt and the area prospered until the Depression, when it hit hard times. Gastown Vancouver BC remained in sad condition until the 1960s, when a group of citizens determined it was essential to save the historic area.
Today, Gastown Vancouver Canada is a thriving region of the city, where you can partake of a fine meal, do lots of shopping, enjoy an active nightlife, and visit a number of historical sights.
The cobblestone streets, lined with lovely Victorian buildings, make this a wonderful place to stroll, especially when the weather is sunny and the temperature pleasant.
You’ll find a myriad of shops here, from trendy boutiques selling Canadian designer fashions to modern malls with familiar department stores. If antiques are your thing, you won’t be disappointed here either and art collectors will love the galleries that tout local western Canadian art as well as native sculpture and collectibles.
Though Gassy Jack’s saloon is long gone, you can still pay homage to the colourful Canadian by visiting his likeness, located in Maple Tree Square.
Don’t miss the amazing Steam Clock, the world’s first, which sounds Westminster chimes on 5 brass steam whistles every 15 minutes of the day. The current clock was built in 1977 and is a replica of an 1875 model. The kids will love this novel timepiece, which weighs over two tons.
As you walk through Gastown, you’ll also find references to a number of historic places, like Bloody Alley, the site of many energetic brawls, and the Europe Hotel, built in 1892, and holding the distinction as the first fireproof building in Canada.
You’ll never go hungry in Gastown. The neighbourhood boasts a huge number of restaurants, cafes, bistros, and fast food establishments. Everything from franchises, like Subway, to fine French eateries, line the streets of this delightful Victorian area.
A number of companies offer fascinating walking tours of Gastown or you can hop the Vancouver Trolley Tour and get off at Water Street and take a leisurely stroll through the neighbourhood.