Liv­ing And Past

Tropical Traveller Magazine - - ISLANDHISTORY -

The names of places in St. Lu­cia strongly re­flect St. Lu­cia’s past and the beauty of its present. Sev­eral vil­lages, ar­eas and even streets bear the names of im­por­tant peo­ple of St. Lu­cia’s his­tory. Castries, our cap­i­tal was it­self named after a French min­is­ter, the Marechal de Castries.

One of the west coast vil­lages is known as La­borie and one of the main streets of Castries has the same name. Baron de La­borie, gov­er­nor of St. Lu­cia be­tween 1784 and 1789, was an en­gi­neer by trade. He was re­spon­si­ble for many struc­tural im­prove­ments through­out the is­land, in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of the orig­i­nal min­eral baths at Di­a­mond Falls.

Mar­quis Es­tate, on the At­lantic coast, re­ceived its name in late 1722 or early 1723. The first party to land at Mar­quis Bay was led by the Mar­quis de Cham­painy. He then marched with his 1400 men di­rectly across the in­te­rior of St. Lu­cia to join forces with troops at Choc Bay.

Many names are de­scrip­tive phrases of the area. Due to long pe­ri­ods of suc­cess­ful col­o­niza­tion by the French in the 1700’s, most of th­ese de­scrip­tive names were de­rived from the French. Not only in St. Lu­cia, but also in other is­lands set­tled by the French, early maps re­veal many “anse”, “barre” and “fonds”.

“Anse”, of­ten mis­spelled as “ance”, refers to a bay or in­let. Lit­er­ally trans­lated it means “a han­dle”. Anse-la-Raye, a fish­ing vil­lage be­tween Castries and Soufriere (source of Sul­phur), is a bay which was once abun­dant in small skate-like fish. Th­ese fish were known as “rayes” to the French.

“Barre” ac­tu­ally means “a bar”. It is of­ten used to de­scribe a moun­tain ridge. The Barre de l’Isle is the ridge which sep­a­rates Cul-de- Sac Val­ley from the Mabouya Val­ley. It in fact di­vides the is­land almost right down the cen­tre.

Val­leys find them­selves called “fonds” which trans­lates into “the bot­tom”. St. Lu­cia has a num­ber of fonds, among them Fond Doux, Fond Gens Li­bre and Fond St. Jac­ques.

Some places have in­ter­est­ing, and some­times mys­te­ri­ous sto­ries sur­round­ing their name. The area south of Castries har­bour is known as La Toc. Ear­lier maps dis­close two dif­fer­ent spell­ing, La Toque and La Taque.

La Toque is a type of hat, hint­ing that a land­mark in this area re­sem­bles this style cap. La Taque, the more log­i­cal of the two, sug­gests that off the coast­line of this area is where sail­ing ships would start tack­ing to en­ter the Castries har­bour.

The moun­tain range east of Castries is known as La Sorciere. View­ing the range from the back of Morne For­tune, and us­ing a lit­tle imag­i­na­tion, the ridge line meets the sky­line in the form of a lady ly­ing on her back.

The old legend of La Sorciere tells of the many men who ven­tures into th­ese hills. They were se­duced by the mag­i­cal pow­ers of “the sor­cer­ess” and never re­turned.

Be­sides French, another lan­guage has left its mark in St. Lu­cia. Many places have names ex­em­pli­fy­ing the Amerindi­ans pres­ence in St. Lu­cia, long be­fore that of the Euro­peans. He­wanorra, our in­ter­na­tional air­port, was named after the Carib name for St. Lu­cia. It is a cor­rup­tion of the Carib word “loua­nalo”, which means “land of the igua­nas”.

The name Ca­naries, another west coast vil­lage, most likely finds its r oots in an Amerindian term. The word “kana­ree” re­ferred to one of their clay cook­ing pots.

A moun­tain to the south­east of Castries is called “Mabouya”. This again is a Carib name. They used this word when speak­ing of the most pow­er­ful of their evil gods. The word is still used in St. Lu­cia when re­fer­ring to some­thing evil.

This is just an in­tro­duc­tion to the in­ter­est­ing names of St. Lu­cia’s places. We don’t have time to tell you all, but keep your ears open. There are many more names re­flect­ing St. Lu­cia’s his­tory and in­ter­est­ing tales, with many of them hint­ing at mys­ter­ies.

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