Vancouver Loses its Beloved Steam Clock (for 2 months)

Photo credit: Junichi Ishito | Flickr

Photo credit: Junichi Ishito | Flickr

Gastown has lost an icon. The legendary Gastown Steam Clock, the steam-powered, 16-foot-tall clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Streets, is gone.

The clock was removed on Wednesday morning, Oct. 8, by city work crews, who carted it off on a flat-bed truck.  It will spend the next two months in a city works yard getting some long overdue repairs before being returned to its original location.

The clock debuted on Sept. 26, 1977.  If it happens to look a lot older than that, there’s good reason. The Victorian-style timepiece – with its  brass and copper finishings – was part of a larger effort to give Gastown a more vintage look and lure in tourists (other touches included the faux cobblestones laid down on Water Street).  The clock was installed to cover an existing steam grate and (at least, according to Wikipedia) “prevent street people from sleeping on the spot in cold weather.”

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Vancouver Loses its Beloved Steam Clock (for 2 months)

Inside Vancouver’s Hidden Past – The Secret History of the Gastown Clock…

Photo courtesy of Alex Schwab

The following article was contributed by Will Woods as part of our Inside Vancouver’s Hidden Past series.

Being a tour guide I get all kinds of questions. Some are straight-forward (“What year was Vancouver incorporated?”), some are thought-provoking (“Is all the condo-building in Vancouver reducing or contributing to homelessness?”) and some are absurd (“Does Canada have its own money?”).

One of the questions I often get is “what is the story of the Gastown Steam Clock?”. A seemingly innocuous question you might say. Yet it’s never been a question I like answering.

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Inside Vancouver’s Hidden Past – The Secret History of the Gastown Clock…

A Perfect Day in Gastown

The following post was contributed by Carrie Leung, Tourism Vancouver’s Client Manager for the Chicago, Midwest and Western US markets. Read about her perfect day in her favourite neighbourhood, Gastown.

One of the many things that make Vancouver unique are the diverse neighborhoods, perfect for sightseeing and shopping. Gastown, a unique neighborhood in the downtown core and the original city of Vancouver, is by far one of my favourites. I love wandering along the cobble stone streets that reflect a refreshing mix of old and new. To start my afternoon of re-discovering Gastown I drop into the Canadian Maple Delights Gourmet Bistro & Shoppe for a latte and maple sugar cookie. Yummy!

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A Perfect Day in Gastown