Gastown - Vancouver

by Nathan


Did you know Gastown started out as a wild west town?  It's named after John Deighton (back then he was called "Gassy Jack"), a retired riverboat captain, who opened a saloon in 1867.  Millworkers and Klondike gold miners used to stop at Gastown to stock up on provisions and drink whiskey.  They had brawls and stabbings every night, just like in the John Wayne movies.  I wish I could've been there!   It's too bad the Great Fire in 1886 burned down most of the buildings in Gastown.  Only two are left, and there used to be 400.

I have to admit, I never would have guessed Gastown was once an old frontier town if my Dad hadn't told me.  The Europe Hotel and The Landing are two of the oldest buildings, but they're just stores now.  They do have a store called The O.K. Boot Corral.  It sells western clothes and boots.  I wanted to buy a hat like the one John Wayne wears, but Dad said my head wasn't big enough.  Mom was looking for a pair of moccasins because there's lots of stores selling Native Indian art.  We got to have lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory, because Dad said it was cheap.  There's plenty of restaurants to pick from, and even an place called The Purple Onion.  Mom said it was a night club and we weren't allowed to go inside.

The streets in Gastown are kind of neat.  They look like the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz.  Dad said they're made of  cobblestone.   They also have antique street lamps along the sides.  Dad showed me two side streets called Blood Alley and Gaoler's Mews.  He said Gaolers Mews was the city's first jail.  There's also a steam clock in Gastown.  Apparently it was the first clock in the world to run on steam.

Age group:

All ages 

Expense rating:

it doesn't cost any money to visit Gastown, but you will pay for parking. 


Davey Crockett is one of my biggest heroes.  I wish I could go back in time and live a day on the frontier (although Mom says I wouldn't last two hours without my computer and T.V.).  I like walking through Gastown and looking for clues to the past.  There aren't many left, but that makes it all the sweeter when you find one.  Dad says next time we'll combine it with a visit to  CN Imax Theatre at Canada Place, The Lookout! Harbour Centre or Chinatown, because they're close by.


  I think Mom liked Gastown the best--can you guess why?  Shopping, of course.  For the rest of us--you can only look at a Steam Clock for so long.   Eventually Jen's whining got to Mom and Dad, and Dad took us for an ice-cream while mom finished shopping.  Dad said Gastown is a tourist trap, because it sells so many souvenirs.  I did see a lot of  stuff you probably wouldn't buy if you lived here.


The Gastown area is located in downtown Vancouver just east of Canada Place, along Water, Alexander, Columbia and Cordova Streets.  For information call (604) 683-5650.  Website:




Gastown is open year round, but it gets busy during the tourist season. 

Educational highlights:

Gastown is where the City of Vancouver got it's roots.   Officially  the area is a historic site because it still has the oldest buildings in all of Vancouver.  If this is up your alley then it's worth a visit.

Fun for the adult?:

I think Mom and Dad should go to Gastown for a date.  Mom saw about five restaurants she wanted to try, and  Dad had his eye on The Steamworks Brew Pub.