14)    DOWN AT GASSY JACK'S 3:59

 



John Deighton is one of the most colourful characters in the history of British Columbia. Nicknamed “Gassy Jack” because his talkative nature, Deighton was a natural born publican and promoter. When the Cariboo Gold Rush began to wane 1867, prospects in New Westminster (a chief supply depot) began to flag as well. Deighton, in true pioneering spirit, began a new venture on the shores of Burrard Inlet, serving liquor to the workers at Hastings Mill. The village which sprung up around Deighton’s Hotel became known as Gastown, and from that village, the City of Vancouver.

 

Born in Hull, Yorkshire in 1830, John Deighton (AKA “Gassy Jack”) immigrated to the Pacific Northwest in the 1850s. He was nicknamed “Gassy Jack” by the fact that he talked or “gassed” so much. Deighton worked for a time as a steamship Captain but poor health caused him to pursue another line of work.

 

He opened his first saloon in New Westminister during the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1862. By 1867 the rush was over and on September 30, with only the contents of a single canoe, Gassy Jack arrived on the south shore Burrard Inlet to build a saloon. Deighton was the first of many entrepreneurs to set up shop in the area known as Gastown, which has grown to become the present day metropolis of Vancouver.

 

Gassy Jack died at age 44 of a chronic illness. He is not only considered the city’s founding father, but he established Vancouver’s hospitality industry which is still thriving 130 years later.




Captain John Deighton was, as most accounts convey

With a bold outgoing nature, well regarded in his day
Now history affords us that beside the western sea
Jack Deighton built this city by his hospitality

 

Aboard the "Flying Dutchman" He’d first gained some renown
As a pilot on the Fraser, he supplied the goldrush towns
'Till he saw an opportunity on the shore by Hastings Mill
Well he built himself a public house and they talk about it still

 

Now there's good clean fun,
Down at Gassy Jack's there's a barrel in the back
And the whiskey flows like water, when you feel a little slack
When you’re dogged-tired from workin', just sit down and relax
Where the customer is always king, down at Gassy Jack's

 

Jack took his wife and her family and put them all in a war canoe
With a yellow dog, some broken chairs, a few odd chickens too
And with these odd amenities, though the craft was over-flowin'
Sat a great big barrel of whiskey, to set the whole thing going

 

Jack broached the keg by a maple tree and he doled the whiskey out
To the thirsty sawmill workers who had gathered 'round about
In return for all his kindness, what a sight was soon beheld
Within a day where Deighton stood, they’d built a small hotel

 

Down at Gassy Jack's there's a barrel in the back
And the whiskey flows like water, if you feel a little slack
When you’re dogged-tired of working', just sit down and relax
Where the customer is always king, down at Gassy Jack's

 

Well it wasn't long 'till Jack's caught on and business starts to boom
Sellin' hooch to ship-jumped sailors, serving food & letting rooms
He soon had neighbours movin' in, and the place was all ablaze
The boozers packed with loggers, dancing girls and poker games

 

What first was known as Gastown became Granville, then Vancouver
And for it’s hospitality it’s praised the wide world over
From an up-sprung  little shanty to a city of acclaim
That’s the tale of Gassy Jack who gave the place its fame

Now there's good clean fun,
Down at Gassy Jack's there's a barrel in the back
And the whiskey flows like water, when you feel a little slack
When you’re dogged-tired from workin', just sit down and relax
Where the customer is always king, down at Gassy Jack's

 



Music and lyrics by Bruce Coughlan (SOCAN)
From Tiller’s Folly: Stirring Up Ghosts CD, 2008


Bruce Coughlan:
lead vocals, acoustic guitar, wood flute and whistles

Laurence Knight: electric bass
Nolan Murray: fiddle, 5-string banjo
Chris Nordquist: drums
Aaron Chapman and Dave Keogh: carrying on


Produced by Bruce Coughlan

Bed tracks engineered by Steven Drake at Greenhouse Studios, Burnaby, BC
Tracked and mixed by Eric Reed at NAL Studios, N. Vancouver, BC
Mastered and re-mastered by Joby Baker, Baker Studios, Victoria, BC