Authentic Victorian buildings and cobblestoned streets: Welcome to Gastown, where history is interspersed with a trendy mix of boutiques, clubs and atmospheric restaurants. With good reason this is one of Vancouver’s most popular and trendy districts.
Gastown was founded in 1867, the same year in which Canada became a nation. When gold prospector John Deighton opened the first bar in the district, a steady stream of people started to settle in the neighbourhood. Deighton was known for his incessant chatter (to gas in Victorian jargon), giving him the nickname Gassy Jack. Hence the village became known as Gastown. Eventually, this small village expanded to become the bustling city of Vancouver.
The steam clock is Gastown’s best known attraction. Although older in appearance, the clock was erected as recently as 1977. A steam vent once occupied the spot where the clock now stands. To cover this and make good use of the steam produced, the decision was taken to construct a steam clock. This would be supplied with steam by pipes running beneath the streets, which are also used to heat the entire downtown Vancouver area. Every 15 minutes the clock lets out a short whistle and a puff of steam. The passing of each hour is marked by a cheerful tune and blasts of steam from all the clock’s pipes.
Address: Cambie Street & Water Street, Vancouver
This small boutique boasts a unique selection of women’s clothing “not available anywhere else in Vancouver”. Alongside the latest fashion, it sells stylish shoes and trendy accessories. One of a Few is the kind of shop that makes people wish there were more like it. The owners couldn’t agree more and that’s why they opened Two of a Few in the building next door; a shop with the same trendy concept but focusing on men.
Address: 354 Water St, Vancouver Website: www.oneofafew.com
Chill Winston not only offers a superb menu but also a wonderful location. The restaurant is situated on a large square with a fantastic view of the Europe Hotel’s exceptional architecture. In the summer the large terrace with its red parasols is bathed in sunlight and is the perfect place to stop off for a fresh crab cake and refreshing drink. In the evening the restaurant is transformed into an atmospheric lounge bar where you can enjoy a glass of wine and some finger food.
Address: 3 Alexander Street, Vancouver Website: http://www.chillwinston.com/
Gastown also hosts large events on a regular basis. Each year hundreds of cyclists take to the cobblestoned streets for the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, which takes place in July. The race is one of a series of nine races held in Vancouver and its environs. The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is also staged annually in Gastown.