The harbor in Castries was originally a volcanic crater, which flooded when its western wall collapsed.
The Amerindians had made use of its small indented coves: fishing, hunting and gathering on the bay’s six large coral reefs and in the thick mangroves. At that time the Castries River was navigable all the way up to the present-day Marchand Bridge and it ran with a strong flow of fresh water that kept the river mouth free of sand.
Vigie Peninsula and La Toc were thickly wooded with bois d’orange, red cedar, calliandra, broom palms, agave and various cacti. Morne Dudon and Morne Fortuné were covered in mature hardwoods such as balata, bwa-pen mawon and awalie, on which the parrots thrived.
Huge numbers of sea birds fed on the abundant marine life and hundreds of frigate birds feasted in mid-summer on the migrating schools of fish that sheltered in the bay. Caribbean manatees, seals and turtles were everywhere and large edible muskrats and mountain chickens flourished in the nearby creeks.
Did you know the first steamship to call at Port Castries and dock alongside the western wharf was RMS Solway, in late 1841?
It was a relatively small trans-Atlantic vessel of 1700 tons, carrying only 100 passengers but it was the largest vessel and the first iron ship ever to visit Castries.
Source: A History of St. Lucia by Harmsen, Ellis & Devaux -2012
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]