John Deighton

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John "Gassy Jack" Deighton

John Deighton (November 1830 – May 29, 1875), generally known as "Gassy Jack", was a Canadian bar owner who was born in Hull, England. The Gastown neighbourhood of Vancouver, British Columbia is named after him.

Deighton started out as a steamship operator for many years of his early life. However he was forced to pursue other lines of work once he developed health problems (swelling of the legs and feet).[1]

Between 1862 and 1867, he ran a bar in New Westminster, British Columbia. It was quite prosperous due to the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1862, but by 1867, business slowed down and he had to close it down.

He later opened a bar on the south side of Burrard Inlet at the behest of his old friend, Captain Edward Stamp, the owner of the Hastings Mill. He later named it the Globe Saloon. He came to the area with little more than $6 to his name, a few simple pieces of furniture, his native wife (whose name has been lost to the years), and a yellow dog. The bar was built by idle sawmill workers in exchange for all the whiskey they could drink in one sitting (the nearest drinking hole was 25 miles away).[2] His patrons were mainly sailors and workers from the nearby sawmill. This bar was demolished when the townsite of Granville was established and was afterwards rebuilt as Deighton House.

Deighton's native wife died. He married her 12-year-old niece Quahail-ya, also known as Madeline or Matrine. Brother Tom Deighton and his wife took over the business in 1874 and John began working the steamship that plied the Fraser River. However, after a family quarrel a few months later, John resumed management of the saloon and operated it until he became ill and died at the age of 44 on May 23, 1875. He is interred at the Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster, British Columbia. The location of the monument is 49°13.322′N 122°53.815′W / 49.222033°N 122.896917°W / 49.222033; -122.896917 (WGS84).

Deighton was known as Gassy Jack because of his talkative nature and his penchant for storytelling. The name stuck and the area around his bar is now known as Gastown.

He was succeeded by his son with Quahail-ya, Richard, who was derisively nicknamed the "Earl of Granville". Richard was born simple-minded, Qua-hail-ya was disinherited, and Richard died before Jack's meager estate (about $300) was probated.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Donna Jean MacKinnon. "Gassy Jack". The Greater Vancouver Book. 
  2. ^ Greg Middleton. "Vancouver Crime". The Greater Vancouver Book.