Day 688: Gastown

Walking toward the Emerald Victorian in the crisp morning air, Laetitia was thinking about Samuel Pepys’ Diary (pronounced peeps). She had taken it along as bedtime reading material on her last trip with Granny. Pepys was a college-educated man in his twenties when he wrote the diary. It covers the momentous period in England’s history from 1660 to 1669, including the restoration of the English monarchy and the London fire and plague, not to mention a war with the Dutch. Its candor about his life and times makes it a valuable historic document, and his frank entries about his dalliances with female servants made it the frequent target of censors. Laetitia decided to do a brief summary of the diary as a song for Uncle Milt’s next party.

As Laetitia sat in a comfortable chair in the library of the Emerald Victorian, sipping Rwandan dark roast and planning the day’s tour she discovered that the original name of Vancouver was “Gastown.” It had nothing to do with the presence of a natural energy resource or unpleasant emissions from its pioneer citizens. It was named after John Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain and bartender who opened the area’s first saloon in 1867. His nickname was “Gassy Jack” because of his habit of storytelling, and the name stuck to the community around his bar.

The day’s tour included the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the Museum of Anthropology at University of British Columbia. It ended in the Gastown district, which features a bronze statue of Gassy Jack and a steam clock. Laetitia decided to skip happy hour today. The visit to Gastown gave her the day’s limerick, a tribute to Gassy Jack.

There’s hardly an honor more classy
Than your form in a sculpture that’s brassy
Or to be so renown
They have named you a town
And all this cause you’re known as “Gassy.”