Vancouver Was Awesome: Born on the Fourth of July


A Vancouver time travelogue brought to you by Past Tense.

After failing to make his fortune in the Cariboo Gold Rush in the 1860s, John “Gassy Jack” Deighton took over the Globe Saloon in New Westminster. Some of his customers trekked all the way from Burrard Inlet to quench their thirst, which got Gassy to thinking that a saloon would do well there. The catalyst came in 1867. Gassy’s health wasn’t so good, so he arranged for an American friend to run the saloon while he made a trip to Douglas (now Harrison) Hot Springs.

But the American patriot took advantage of his position of trust. On July 4 the friend invested Deighton’s cash in powder, rockets and fire-crackers for what must have been a glorious display on the Glorious fourth, and there was even whisky on the house that day. All this had a disastrous effect on Gassy Jack because he was now broke and disillusioned with his fellow man, explains Ancient Mariner [in a letter to the News-Advertiser]. What on earth was Gassy Jack to do now?

Gassy loaded his family and a barrel of whisky into a dugout canoe and headed to Burrard Inlet, not long after Hastings Mill began operations. According to local legend, Deighton paid locals in whisky to help him build the second Globe Saloon. It was opened within 24 hours and the rest, as they say, is history.

Source: Photo by me, quote from Olga Ruskin, “Who was Gassy Jack?”


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