Did you know the expression Vieux Fort, Old Fort, is found several times on old maps of St. Lucia? However, the Vieux Fort “par excellence” is the one located at the southern tip of the island, just before Moul à Chique.
On the 1758 map Vieux Fort is marked across the bay between Ance Noire and Pointe Moulacique; and Riviѐre du Vieux Fort marks the river that runs into the bay. Lefort de Latour’s map shows quartier du Vieux Fort; Grande Riviѐre du Vieux Fort; Petite Riviѐre du Vieux Fort; Baye du Vieux Fort and Anse du Vieux Fort.
From Lefort de Latour’s “Description” one learns the origin of the name in this case. “This Quarter he says, “takes its name from a redoubt erected there by some Dutch ships to protect themselves from the attacks of the Caribs, who were angry at seeing foreigners act as if they were the masters in the midst of their very huts.”
It has been suggested that the redoubt in question might date from around 1654, when the Dutch established a colony in Tobago. The redoubt appeared to have been on the Windward side, in the Pointe Sable district; and Amerindians relics were also found there. The agents of the “Revolution” gave the Vieux Forts in St. Lucia the new name La Loi.
With regards to the other French Forts in St. Lucia, the 1758 map marks Ancien Fort François, old French Fort, a little inland from Islet du Choc (Choc or Rat Islet). The headland opposite Islet à rats is shown on Lefort de Latour’s map as Pointe du Vieux Fort. On the Admiralty map of 1888, three old forts are marked: one beneath Rachette Pt (Soufriѐre Bay); another to the South of Choiseul; and another near the mouth of the Fond D’Or River (Dennery).
Did you know the area in the heights of Vieux Fort Called Viger; pronounced Veejay may have taken its name from a French family that owned land in St. Lucia in the 18th century? Lefort de Latour describes a property of 80 carrés in the Dennery Quarter as belonging to Heirs Vigé. Breen list a Vigѐs as intestate succession in 1811. It may be the same name under different forms.
1 carrés = 3.2 acres
Source: St. Lucia: The Romance of its Place Names by Rev, Fr, Charles Jesse – 1966
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]