Squamish Nation issues statement on Gassy Jack and his 12-year-old wife

Jun 24 2020, 12:27 pm

After the City of Vancouver recently announced that it will be working with Indigenous communities and the Gastown Business Improvement Association (BIA) to determine the future of the “Gassy Jack” statue, the Squamish Nation has now issued a statement on the statue, as well as the man behind the figure, John Deighton.

The monument, which was installed in 1970 to commemorate Deighton, was recently vandalized with red paint.

The Squamish Nation said it was asked to comment on the future of the Gassy Jack statue in the historic Gastown district of the City of Vancouver and has now released a statement on the matter.

The statement says that Deighton “immigrated to Squamish Nation territory from England, and around the late 1860s, married a Squamish woman.”

That woman died around 1870, and Deighton subsequently married the woman’s niece: a 12-year-old Squamish girl known as Madeline, or X̱áliya, the statement said.

In 1871, “the pair had a son together named Richard Mason Deighton. Gassy Jack and Richard reportedly later died in 1875. After Gassy Jack’s death, Madeline (X̱áliya) remarried a Squamish man known as Big William,” the statement said. “They have descendants in the Squamish Nation today.”

Madeline died August 10, 1948, at the age of 90, in North Vancouver.

“The Squamish Nation recognizes there is an ongoing conversation about our Squamish history, our ancestors, and the City of Vancouver,” the statement said. “The Squamish Nation recommends that the descendants of our ancestors and the Squamish Nation be involved in any decisions about the telling of our people’s history or actions taken in our people’s name.”