Friday, September 10, 2010

Gassy Jack and Other Monuments

There he is, Gassy Jack also known as John Deighton. This man, the Father of Gastown, earned his nickname due to his ability to talk and weave stories.

Deighton was originally a man of the water, coming to Canada from his home of Hull England as he worked aboard a ship. He then became a steamboat operator but swelling of his feet and legs forced him to find other employment. He ran a saloon in New Westminster that was quite popular due to the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1862 but five years later business was slow so he closed it.

In September of that year Deighton and his native wife stepped off the boat with a barrel of whiskey. He told the idle millworkers that if they built him a saloon he would serve them all whiskey. The saloon was up and running within a day.

Present day Gastown was just a wilderness back then. And the nearest non native settlement was a nearby lumber mill where the owner didn't allow alcohol on the grounds. This area was ready for a man like Gassy Jack and his saloon.

Three  years after that the area was named Granville in an attempt to make it sound more distinguished but everyone still referred to the settlement as Gastown after the colorful saloon owner.

This statue of John Deighton stands at the corner of Water and Powell Street or Carrall and Powell Street - the three streets merge there.

If you can read the plaque that is below the statue it says that this monument was placed at the site where once an old maple tree stood and it was under that tree that early  pioneers met in 1885 and decided that the name for their soon to be incorporated city was to be 'Vancouver'.

Say you have come to see the statue of Gassy Jack and you turn around. You will see the Hotel Europe. This building was built on a triangular lot and is shaped like a triangle. I thought I had a photo of it but I guess it was one of the ones that didn't transfer properly yesterday. I do have these other photos though.

This hotel was the first reinforced concrete structure to be built in Canada and the earliest fireproof hotel to be built in Western Canada. Workers had to be brought in from Cincinatti, Ohio since they were the only ones with the necessary expertise to build the beauty.

Hotelier Angelo Calori had this hotel built close to the old steamship docks and there was a bus that transferred passengers from the docks to the hotel. In 1983 it was redone for affordable housing units.

And thanks for I have a photo for you.

When I walk somewhere I like to duck in behind buildings and such to see what might be there, what the general public may not be likely to see. Gastown is great, the developers have mixed the old with the new and tried to keep the new in the same style. But I found this on my wanderings and it looks pretty old to me.

Another thing that Gastown is known for is our steam clock.
This is actually the most photographed location in town.  I know it is difficult getting the right shot with all the people around. That's okay though, it is great to see so much interest. The clock is located at the corner of Cambie and Water Streets and was put there for a logical reason.

Under the clock is a steam grate that was part of our distributed steam-heating system. The clock was put there to prevent an eyesore - the grate - prevent the homeless from sleeping on the grate and to make use of the escaping steam. Every fifteen minutes the clock chimes and steam billows. Quite a sight and one that wouldn't show up well with my little camera.

This area of town, a very important part of Vancouver's history, was almost lost to us. After the Depression of the thirties it became a forgotten area, allowed to fall into disrepair. Then a group of concerned citizens started campaigning in the sixties and in 1971 the provincial government declared it a provincial historical site which has provided protection for the buildings that show our past. The federal government declared Gastown a national historic site in 2009.

I hope you enjoyed the little trip through the Vancouver's first settlement. I will have to go back another day when the weather changes and take more photos so you can see more. I did see something interesting on the Inlet though.

 Isn't that cruise ship something else? They are so huge!

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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