The statue stands at the entrance of Gastown and depicts John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, an English seaman who arrived in 1867 and opened what would become one of the first businesses on Burrard Inlet.
Deighton was known for his flamboyant personality, which earned him his nickname. He was also a shrewd businessman and entrepreneur; he quickly recognized that there were opportunities to be had in this new frontier town, so he set up shop near what is now Water Street. His saloon became a popular spot for locals looking for entertainment and refreshment after a long day’s work.
Today, visitors can still visit Gassy Jack’s saloon (now known as the Steamworks Brew Pub) but it’s the statue outside that has become an iconic landmark in Vancouver. The bronze sculpture stands 8 feet tall and weighs over 1 tonne. It was created by local sculptor Michael Dennis, who based its design on archival photographs from back when Deighton lived here during the late 1800s. The details are remarkable – from Deighton’s trademark bowler hat to his pipe clenched between his teeth – making it easy to imagine Gassy Jack standing there today with all of his gusto.
The unveiling ceremony took place in 1971 as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations; since then it has become one of Gastown’s most recognizable landmarks and an important symbol of Vancouver’s history. Every year thousands flock to take pictures with this larger-than-life figure – some even dress up like him.