Castle Bruce residents embrace history lesson

A view of Castle Bruce Bay with a part of the village in the background

The Kalinago People called it “Kouanari”. Then, the colonizers came and called it “Castle Bruce” after  plantation owner James Bruce, who, according to historical reports, cared nothing about the enslaved people, whom he abused in building his sugar cane plantation. His residence, which overlooked his plantation, was located where the present day Christian Union Mission Church stands.

That’s just part of what the residents of Castle Bruce learned about the history of their village in a detailed presentation on Wednesday 14th August 2019, which formed part of planned activities for their Village Feast – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Those who attended the historical account entitled “From Slavery to Championship”, described it as  an interesting and enlightening presentation which enabled them to understand their community and themselves a bit more.

Historian, Dr. Lennox Honychurch, enthralled a captive audience with detailed information about Castle Bruce, which explored its geological formation, the Kalinago presence, slavery and colonization and post slavery and colonization. He compared the geographical layout of Castle Bruce, with its beautiful beach, rivers, flat lands, hills/mountains etc, to that of Roseau which he said, shares a similar topography.

Castle Bruce, which Honychurch described as one of the oldest parts of Dominica, was established as a sugar plantation by slave owners such as James Bruce. The islets (which are its main feature), were very important in the shipping of rum, molasses and lime to Europe from the plantation. There are still some ruins dating back to that time. (Recently, one of those ruins was bulldozed to make way for apartment buildings.) According to the historian, these islets were an interesting place, where the Kalinago people farmed; the colonizers used as a shipping point and it was also a site of murder.

The community learnt that revolt was a common event during the slavery era and not all African descendants were actually slaves, as a group of Africans was released in Castle Bruce, after  the British Army around 1837, captured a ship with its illegal cargo.

Castle Bruce residents are portrayed as a people who once fought against injustice. They stood up with a young Atherton Martin in 1972, when the owners of the plantation demanded that Martin fire some workers. He refused to do so. In return, they decided to fire him, but the villagers would not have it.

Stafford Alfred was the first local representative in Government for the community which, today can boast of a United Nations Ambassador in the person of Loreen Bannis- Roberts.  Castle Bruce people are also innovators of national events such as The Waitukubuli National Trail (which was conceptualized by Bernard Wiltshire) and village reunions.

There was a general sense of satisfaction among the villagers after the presentation. Some had heard it before; others got new information but for those who heard it for the first time, it was an eye opener.

One lady told Dominica News Online (DNO) that the “history books used to teach our children [should] be banned and our real history should be written and taught in schools. For too long, we are being taught about murderers and criminals whom historians label as “Lord, knight, Sir etc –these men were evil people”.

One young man perhaps most aptly captured the sentiments of the Castle Bruce residents who attended, when he said, “I am proud of my history and where I came from.”

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9 Comments

  1. flobert stan
    November 27, 2019

    whats up castle bruce people

  2. Bring back the kidnapped Dominican parrots
    August 21, 2019

    Whose idea was it to bulldoze the old ruins? It was part of Dominica history and a tourist attraction. Housing is needed but old 1700 and 1800 ruins should be preserved for Dominica history.

  3. Annon
    August 21, 2019

    I am glad that some true history is being uncovered since so much of it is literally covered up by the educational system in the history books. His-story has been written by the victors. It is not the real story.

  4. Look it.
    August 20, 2019

    whenever we meet a person whom we suspect will see god before us we call them old and ignored them but listen to them for they know all the history.kanawee means black. there were murderers and cannibalism. all problems must be solved,may be we don’t approved of the method used to solved them. Our today problem we turn a blined eye. People sit on the side road ,steal,beg and do nothing,a menace to society.Come with ideas and solusions to solve the present day problems.we cannot live in the past.forward we go.

  5. foreign observer
    August 20, 2019

    Just the other week, much was made of opening new public toilets in Castle Bruce, lauded as an enhancement to tourism in the area. I commented then that what was really needed was a “Visitor Centre” with multiple amenities, including information about the area itself. Just imagine if this had come to pass and the truly interesting information provided by Dr. Honychurch (who else?) was available for tourists to learn about this area. But even without a “visitor centre”, I hope the Village Council devises some way of keeping the history of Castle Bruce in the eyes of the public, not only for all Dominicans but also visitors.

    Dr. Honychurch is one of Dominica’s most valuable resources. Never miss an opportunity to hear him speak of your history, and read his books. Even I, a foreign observer, have done both whenever the opportunity arose.

    Thanks, DNO, for this piece. Learned a bit more about Dominica this morning!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  6. CB BOSS
    August 20, 2019

    A historical perspective well appreciated. It really made me felt better about the village of my birth.

    Thanks Dr. Lennox Honeychurch!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  7. observer
    August 20, 2019

    Thank you Lennox Honeychurch PhD. for keeping our People informed of our History. As it is said, “A People who do not know their History will perish”.
    I hope and pray that that someone will step up to help preserve the work that you have begun.
    Your perseverance is worth appreciating in spite of the little or no compensation for your long and hard work.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  8. KaliNeg
    August 20, 2019

    :?: I am one who’s of the view that since politrickal interdependence we should change all those colonial names back to their original Kalinago names, and this includes the present name of the island to Waitukubuli. Here it is black people who were enslaved and the Kalinago People,by the Europeans Caucasians are celebrating a feast that was impose on them and at the same time learning of their History! :?: I hope a change will take place in their minds and stop observing the former slave masters and coloniser’s religious celebrations! :?:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
    • Bring back the kidnapped Dominican parrots
      August 21, 2019

      The name of Dominica especially because people seem to confuse the Dominican republic with Commonwealth of Dominica even the US Postal service has done so on occasion, mail has gone to the wrong country. When Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed people thought it was on the Dominican Republic, they did not know that there are two Dominica’s in the Caribbean.

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