Lovely Laborie: Authentic and Really Lucian
RICH IN HISTORY AND REALLY LUCIAN
Before the arrival of Europeans in the early 1600’s, the district of Laborie had been home to different groups of Amerindians. Arawak artifacts such as zemis and pottery have been found in the Black Bay area and there are intriguing rock basins and petroglyphs in some inland locations. The deep bays of the district with their reef-protected shores provided attractive locations for human habitation.
It's likely that the first European settlers of the village now known as Laborie were the French in the 1700's. In 1763 there were perhaps a dozen houses in the small community known as "L'Islet à Caret." The name was French for 'Turtle Island,' after the loggerhead turtle that came to nest on the beaches and the sandy, reefy island that once existed in the bay.
Laborie became an independent parish in 1765. By 1775 more houses had appeared along with the first church, and 81 estates throughout the quarter had been allotted to French settlers, some of whose names live on in the names of nearby communities such as Augier, Banse, etc.
In October 1780, a devastating hurricane hit Saint Lucia and destroyed most of the buildings and crops on the island. That hurricane, thought to be the worst in Saint Lucia’s recorded history, also swept away the little island in the bay, but the Kwéyòl name and identity of Anse Kawet (Bay of the Turtles) lived on.
By 1789, the village was renamed Laborie in honor of Baron Jean Zénon André de Véron de Laborie, French Governor of Saint Lucia from 1784 to his death in 1789, for his efforts on behalf of the white residents to reinstate Laborie as a separate parish, and for the restoration of its church.
Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s daily life in the district didn't see great changes. Most people lived inland, ‘in the country’ where they farmed, coming down into Laborie Village on the weekends for market day and church. The other main activity was fishing.
Many Laborians went abroad in search of education and work to destinations such as the UK, Panama, Cayenne and British Guiana, Canada and the United States. Roads were either non-existent or difficult so most commerce and travel to other communities or the capital, Castries, took place by boat.
The Beanfield Air Force Base, an airfield built during the second World War, was staffed with soldiers and airmen from the United States and brought some employment and prosperity to the Laborie and Vieux Fort area. The old airfield was eventually transformed in the 1970s into Saint Lucia's Hewanorra International Airport.
Some of the infrastructure built during that time still survivesl, including roads, some buildings and interestingly, some concrete pillboxes along the coast between Vieux Fort and Laborie. The former public hospital in Black Bay was initially built during that time. Yet, by the end of the second World War, Laborie was still not connected to the electricity grid and pipe-borne water.
In the 1950's, United States' Forces based in the Caribbean built a radar station at Morne Le Blanc in Laborie. In order to supply their radar station, they also built and improved infrastructure such as improved road access from Vieux Fort to Laborie, all the way to the Morne. The former radar station is now a park, managed by Laborie's ECHO-Lab and open to all.
Although nowadays Laborie is a modern village, the sleepy beachfront and busy fishermen make for a chilled out, very authentic backdrop for the visitor who likes to get off the beaten track. Most homes now have piped water and electricity, many have cable TV and the Internet. Just like anywhere else in the world, there are teenagers that can barely be distracted away from their smartphones. But in Laborie, they have paradise as a backdrop for their selfies . . .
Check out ilovelaborie.com for more about lovely Labowi!
is on the Picture perfect Laborie
Lucia, and southeast coast of Saint
oldest home to one of the island's
Fishing is one of the main economic activities in Laborie.
Fish pots on the beach