NA­TIONAL TRUST COR­NER Birth of a Vil­lage

Tropical Traveller Magazine - - ISLANDVILLAGE -

The

vil­lage of Ca­naries emerged out of a small com­mu­nity that had set­tled upon the coastal strip of land, com­monly known to­day as the “Queen’s Chain” just be­hind the high wa­ter line of Anse des Ca­naries (the bay of Ca­naries). Shortly after the ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties that fol­lowed the French Revo­lu­tion, the pro­pri­etor of Ca­naries Es­tate alone the west coast of St. Lu­cia, per­mit­ted a ne­gro vil­lage to spring up on the “Cin­quante Pas Du Roi” or Queen’s Chain, fronting the es­tate. The pro­pri­etor’s de­sign was to main­tain a la­bor pool of obe­di­ent ser­vants who would be al­lowed to re­main undis­turbed pro­vided they re­mained loyal to the pro­pri­etor. This sub­tle ar­range­ment worked well un­til some time after eman­ci­pa­tion in 1838 when dis­agree­ments nat­u­rally enough be­gan to arise.

By the year 1869, the sit­u­a­tion had be­come in­tol­er­a­ble and the pro­pri­etor sought le­gal ac­tion to have the whole lot evicted. In early 1970, the chief mag­is­trate, Mr. Grey, on in­ves­ti­ga­tion the mat­ter, sub­mit­ted a re­port to the ad­min­is­tra­tor seek­ing a so­lu­tion less volatile, by at­tempt­ing to re­solve the ques­tion of land own­er­ship that in­volved some hun­dreds of peo­ple.

The so­lu­tion adopted by coun­cil was to re­tain the Cin­quante Pas on be­half of the Crown and to sell it in lots on easy terms to the peo­ple who pos­sessed houses there. This ac­tion greatly an­gered the pro­pri­etor of Ca­naries Es­tate and other land own­ers, who saw this as an un­prece­dented act threat­en­ing their as­sumed rights to Queen’s Chain.

The pro­pri­etor, how­ever, find­ing it nec­es­sary to cul­ti­vate am­i­ca­ble re­la­tions with his newly in­de­pen­dent neigh­bors, en­tirely changed his at­ti­tude to­wards them. They re­cip­ro­cated by work­ing his es­tate as in for­mer times.

Thus was born the vil­lage of Ca­naries! The vil­lagers later showed their grat­i­tude to the de­ceased mag­is­trate whom they re­garded as the mov­ing cause of their good for­tune by at­tend­ing his fu­neral en masse. Shortly after the vil­lage was for­mally es­tab­lished in 1870 the lo­cal coastal boats of the St. Lu­cia Steam Con­veyance Company would pause briefly off the coast of Ca­naries and trans­fer mail, pas­sen­gers or cargo via ca­noes es­tab­lish­ing an of fi­cial trans­porta­tion route to the vil­lage.

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