NATIONAL TRUST CORNER Birth of a Village
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.