Gastown, Vancouver

The sounds of La Valse d’Amélie being played on an accordion floated by as I wandered down the streets of Gastown one rainy evening. It set the tone for a couple who decided to dance on a nearby corner.

Gastown’s name comes from Gassy Jack Deighton, the owner of the first saloon in the area (1867). Jack was given this nickname because of his loud mouth and penchant for storytelling.

Gastown is iconic… in some ways good and others bad. Now it is a popular attraction for tourist and contains some of Vancouver’s oldest buildings. However, in its history it has seen more than its fair-share of riots, strikes, and protests. The most famous is the Gastown Riots of 1971.

Until the 1970s, Gastown was part of Vancouver’s skidrow (a colloquialism thought to have originated here). These days most of Gastown has gentrified and is safe to wander around at night, however surrounding Downtown Eastside areas like Chinatown and East Hastings Street are still quite dodgy.

As an aside… for family… on the East side of Gastown on Powell Street is the rooming house where one of our great uncles died in 1969.

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