Did you know Castries had been the activities center of St. Lucia since its beginning and the history of the island was hinged on the activities of Castries?
The earliest people who came to St. Lucia found a bay enclosed by hills and bordered with mangroves from the marina all around to Bananes Bay.
The bay was rich in fish, conch and other sea foods while Sans Souci provided clams and birds. Plentiful fresh water was available from the Castries River and the La Pansée and Morne Dudon streams.
The fist Europeans, adventurers and pirates found the bay to be a safe refuge.
The French found the bay convenient for anchoring and mending their ships, naming their first base, in the area of the present day yacht haulout, La Carenage (A place for careening and repairing ships).
This facility gave Castries its motto: “Statio Haud Malefida Carinis”- A Safe Harbor for Ships.
Did you know Jeremie Street was originally called Rue des Mangles (Street along the Mangroves)?
Did you know during the eighteenth century the constant parade of armies, troops, naval ships and commercial shipping made Castries a cosmopolitan town?
Did you know from 1832-34 one Captain Caddy, a British army officer recorded a number of social activities that emerged on the island?
Dances, parties, balls, quadrille, polka and going to the theatre were some of the events; and the military band provided the music.
In 1779, another officer noted that on Sundays, the black ladies dressed in chintz gowns, silk headties and jewelry. He commented favorably on their graceful dances but noted that in the quick dances the method was not the most decent.
Captain Caddy stated that going to Gros Islet on a Friday night was the hangout spot for the Navy from the Pigeon Island Garrison. (Friday night in Gros Islet has been a long tradition).
The military, particularly the Navy was the first large scale tourists and St. Lucia was the most favored destination of the British Navy. St. Lucia’s roots in tourism are deep and the experience was unrivaled.
Did you know in 1906 Castries had its own St. Cecilia Philharmonic Association?
In 1945, the Administrator, Edward Francis Twining wrote to the Governor saying that the colony needed a “spiritual renaissance.”
His contribution was the Police band and a Director of Music and he commissioned the performance of Gluck’s Grand Opera. Hundreds contributed to the performance in the form of costumes and music.
Violinists and pianists accompanied a cast of fifty-one sopranos, altos and basses of the Arts and Crafts Society with Miss Olga Pierre as Orpheus, Miss Olga Sweetnam as Euridice and Miss Frances Clauzel as the God of Love.
The production of Orpheus that night was for the entire island and was described as an enormous source of pride.
Source: From Town to City – Castries at 25 by Earl Bousquet – 1992