Gordon Miller Sailing into History

Early Vancouver

It was timber that attracted European settlers to the shores of Burrard Inlet. In 1862 the first sawmill was built on its north shore, and by 1865 it was shipping lumber to Chile and Mexico. The settlement that grew up around the mill was called Moodyville, and was for years the centre of civilized life on the inlet. In 1865 Captain Edward Stamp was granted rights to cut timber, and he built Hastings Mill on the inlet’s south shore.  In 1867 he began milling timber, and that same year, on the last day of September, John Deighton stepped from his canoe onto a beach a short distance to the west. With him was “a squaw, her mother, a dog, two chickens, two chairs,” and most important, a barrel of whiskey. He immediately began dispensing free booze, and within twenty-four hours willing hands had erected ‘Deighton House’, a twelve by twenty-four shack, and ‘Gassy Jack’s’ saloon was in business. Business boomed, and that same year he built the Sunnyside Hotel. Soon there was a block long street of hotels, dry goods stores, a butcher and eventually a church and a jail. Gastown was born.

Gastown was surveyed and officially named Granville in 1870. Fifteen years later the Canadian Pacific Railway made Granville the western terminus of its transcontinental line, and on April 6, 1886, the City of Vancouver was officially incorporated. Two months later, slash being burned to clear the CPR right of way set fire to the little community, and the site of what would become Canada’s third largest city, burned to the ground.