When we visited Vancouver, we thought that we would dip into Gastown for an hour or two to take some pictures and that would be it. We walked there on our first day in Vancouver and were immediately blown away by Gastown’s charm and character. Founded in 1867 by Yorkshire seaman/barkeep Jack Deighton (for whom the area is named), Gastown started life as a little bar town.
Fast forward to today, and Gastown has retained its historic charm, but has also gained expertise in fashion and creativity due to the crowd that it attracts. Gastown is a hub for creative types and houses lots of offices for gamers and graphic designers, as well as fashion boutiques and some incredible shoe stores (more on that later!).
Many of the buildings around Gastown have been in place for over 100 years, and there is a distinctly European style permeating throughout the streets. Alongside the beautiful red brick buildings with their huge arched windows and Tudor-style decor, Gastown sports some ultra-modern architecture too. Rather than clashing and contradicting each other however, they seem to complement each other and make the town even more beautiful.
That famous steam clock
The musical steam clock in the centre of Gastown is like something pulled straight out of a Jules Verne novel. The intricacies of the interior mechanisms are on display in a glass mid-section which is fascinating to watch in action. The clock chimes every 15 minutes and then completes a full tune on the hour with steam billowing from the top. All of that drama and prestige draws in quite a crowd!
The cute independent shops
Gastown was voted the fourth most stylish neighbourhood in the World in 2012, and a stroll down its streets makes it easy to see why. Gastown is filled with lovely independent stores and stylish boutiques.
We especially loved the shoe stores Six Hundred Four and John Fluevogs. John Fluevogs is situated in a gorgeous glass building, filled with natural touches like tree trunks and hanging planters. Six Hundred Four is based right next to the Steam Clock and they specialise in taking local artist’s artworks and translating them onto trainers. I was extremely tempted by these gorgeous octopus ones, and I’m still not sure how I convinced myself to leave without them! If you love a pair however, make sure you grab them quick, as there are only a limited number of each one made! Each artwork has 604 pairs of shoes made, split into the alternative styles, and each one is laser-engraved with a number indicating its specific identification. Pretty cool right?
Loads of great places to eat and drink
Gastown has a great mixture of independent food places and larger chain stores. We admittedly had a nice cool drink at the Starbucks opposite the Steam Clock so that we got a good view of the clock whilst enjoying our break. By the way, black milkshake? It was actually a mint chocolate frappuccino, but it took me back to my gothic teenage years for a brief moment!
The Flying Pig is a nice little pub for resting your bones and getting a bite to eat.
If you’re after something to go, why not grab a Japadog, or have a cheesecake from Trees Organic? The coconut dream is delicious and highly recommended!
Lastly, if you’re British like us, or enjoy anything vaguely tea-related, be sure to stop in David’s Tea where you might be lucky enough to be given free samples of iced tea. I adore the colour scheme in here, it’s just so pretty and pastel-y!
We show some of the highlights of Gastown in our vlog series on Western Canada – have a little look at our vlog if you are interested!
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