COMMENTARY: The latest news from 140 years ago

Readers who occasionally bemoan DNO’s tardiness in posting their comments may be interested to learn that they can now kill time by browsing through copies of the Dominica Dial from the 1880’s.  The British Newspaper Archives have just added scanned copies to their on-line collection.

This snippet of information came to me from my brother in the UK. He specifically drew my attention to an announcement on front page of the issue that illustrates this commentary: “T. Y. Polo Photographic Artist and Artistic Poser…” By way of our respective blog posts we have both been lamenting on current trends in the visual arts and in particular the dependency of copying from photographs rather than working from life. They include my brother’s satirical entry to the 2021 Sky TV Landscape Artist of the Year Competition and my own passion for confronting the real thing.

Of more general interest, on the front page of the September 14th 1880 edition of the Dominica Dial are For Sale Notices for the Melville Hall Estate and the Bath and Emsall Estate. Lot 3 notes that the Government has offered to purchase 35 acres for a Botanical Station. Lot 4 includes a fine set of Works newly covered…the mill is by Fletcher; horizontal and driven by a 30-feet water wheel. The newspaper’s header lists “Politics and Mouthpiece of Public Opinions”. At least that has not changed over the years.

While I am pleased that the British Newspaper Archives have added a Dominican publication to their collection, of equal importance is the work of our own excellent Library and Information Service. Their website sets the benchmark for other government services to aspire to. The library’s National Archive Unit lists no less than twenty newspapers published in Dominica between 1765 and 1977.

Considering the excellence of our public library service, it beggars belief that the government has made no attempt to restore the historic Roseau Library building since the damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria. This shameful disregard for Dominica’s heritage will not bode well with future generations. History judges civilizations by their quality of life, culture, artefacts, architecture, art and libraries.

The websites referred to in this commentary are as follows:


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  1. Annon
    March 4, 2021

    Oh yeh, smack in the middle of the most sausage and brutal holocaust mankind has ever seen.

    • Annon
      March 9, 2021

      Correction: not sausage, .. savage (spell-check/word-suggestion had a bad day)

  2. Bill collector
    March 3, 2021

    Thanks for pointing that out, I love the arts too. I can’t help imagine the human carnage going on at that time. Can’t wait to read the hidden lies and omissions.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  3. Michael Norris
    March 3, 2021

    Thanks for this, Mr. Burnett and DNO. I do appreciate it, especially as someone who loves history. I am very pleased the Dominica Library has an online presence.

  4. BobD
    March 3, 2021

    European Colony Dominica. Today, the sale of land lots have been replaced by Passport Vending, the more things seemed to change, more of the same continue to be the norm, only the Faces have Swapped somewhat. A people usually get the Gov’t they deserve, the Library was coined during the Colonial period when reading was used to elevate, present day Dominica liberals tend not to have any need for reading. Having a Book in hand is no longer the in thing, head to the ground Social media continue to drive our people to a very dark emotional space, making them believe the fanciful. A Library, for them is not top priority, the Great books told us that when you educate Women, you empower a Nation, is Dominica Listening?

  5. Dr Clayton Shillingford
    March 3, 2021

    Thanks to Roger Burnett See section re Public Library why has that not been attended to ???? I hope most of the important reference and other useful books have been rescued including my 1967 MSC thesis on Dominican Rain Forest taxonomy and ecology titled “STUDIES ON THE VEGETATION OF DOMINICA”

  6. This is news
    March 3, 2021

    The headlines captivated me, so I got right to it, after reading the first sentence, DNO, I stopped reading. Criticism brings out perfection. You need to capitalize on that. Now that you read this comment, go ahead and do what you always do.

    ADMIN: This article was submitted by a contributor

    • March 4, 2021

      And what has the tardiness of DNO has to do with this article. There is nothing in this article saying what DNO is doing about its tardiness.

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