Captain John Deighton Statue
Public Art : Captain John Deighton Statue (also known
as Gassy Jack Statue)
Sculptor : © Vern Simpson
Date : 1970's
Location : Maple Tree Square, Gastown, Vancouver,
Commissioned : The Captain John Deighton Statue was
commissioned by Larry Killam and others interested in improving business in the Gastown area in the early
Description : A 6ft 6inch crude bronze
figure of Gassy Jack standing on a barrel gazing across the Maple Street Square
Gassy Jack Controversy : The poor old Gassy Jack
statue wasn't really that warmly received when it was given as a Valentine gift to the city. In fact the then
mayor, Tom Campbell, threatened to have it hauled to the rubbish dump. Later vandals decapitated Gassy's
head, which was later found and reattached!
Who Was Gassy Jack? : Long before Vancouver became a
thriving metropolis it was a tiny settlement consisting of Hastings Mill and a makeshift tavern established by one
"Gassy" Jack Deighton in 1867. The term "to gas" was a Victorian term for talking way too much and was an apt
nickname for the man with the gift of the gab. The area around his Globe Saloon would eventually be named Gastown
in honor of the colorful man.
John Deighton was born in Hull England in 1830 and started out his career as a steamship operator
but bad health lead him to pursue other lines of work. In the 1860's he became a bar owner in British Columbia and
was soon invited by an old friend, Captain Edward Stamp and the owner of Hastings Mill, to set up a saloon near the
mill. Deighton arrived with his Indian wife, a few pieces of furniture and one yellow dog.
In the ensuing years "Gassy Jack" became somewhat of a legend in the area thanks in part to
his storytelling skills. When the townsite of Granville was established, his 12' by 24' board-and-batten shack was
demolished and in its place the Deighton Hotel was built.
When Jack's wife died he married her 12 year old niece Quahail-ya who bore him a child called
Richard, who was born simple minded. In 1874 Jack's brother Tom and his wife took over the running of Deighton
Hotel while Jack went back to working the steamships along the Fraser River. Unfortunately a family feud saw the
end of that little arrangement and Jack returned to running the show. According to legend, on the 29th May, 1875
Gassy Jack's dog gave out an almight howl to which Jack said "You son of a bitch! There's something going to
happen." He was dead before morning. Sadly six months later his son died.
On June 13th, 1886, during the Great Fire, the Deighton Hotel was engulfed in flames, disappearing