Sounds of Dominica
|We are pleased to be able to bring you excerpts from Dr. Lennox Honychurch's upcoming book about the heritage of Dominica. We will add new entries to the "A to Z of Dominica Heritage" as they become available. Watch this page for more information about the book!
A to Z of Dominica Heritage by Lennox Honychurch
reprinted with permission
Origin of Words: (A) African, (C) Carib, (E) English, (F) French
Abyme (F) (La Bim) In English means 'the abyss'. An area of very deep water along the face of the cliff of Morne la Sorcier at Soufriere Bay. The depth has not been recorded and it is described as 'bottomless' in myths and folklore associated with the site. One such myth relates that a Carib chief who dived into the Freshwater Lake came out at L'Abyme. Geologically the great depth was caused by a major collapse along a fault line that lay in an arc from La Sorcier to Morne Des Fous. This occurred 5 million years ago, when that whole section of southern Dominica slid down into the trough known as the Grenada Basin, cutting La Sorcier in half and creating L'Abyme. Following this the volcanoes of Morne Patate emerged from the seabed. The underwater cliff, covered in coral growth, is now a great attraction for scuba divers who describe it as a 'wall dive'.
Abòlò (C) (Ameiva fuscata) (Teiidae) A large ground lizard most common along the coastal fringe of Dominica within a mile of the sea. On average 8 to 12 inches in length; males larger than females. Its colour mainly mottled grey and brown with an uneven band of turquoise spots along both sides of its body. In juveniles this appears as a light stripe. Once stewed by the Caribs to cure certain ailments.
Ackra (A) A small fritter made of flour batter fried in oil, usually with a base of shredded salted codfish or titiri. Introduced by West Africans. Originates from the Yoruba word: akara, "an oily cake made from beans ground and fried."
Acouma, áukuma (C) (Sideroxylon foetidissimum) Acouma St.Christophe. A tree of the low elevation evergreen forest zone that supplies one of the most durable native building materials found on the island. It was formerly much sought after by the Caribs. Also Acouma batard (S. salicifolium) and Acouma blanc (Homalium racemosum). The latter, a common shrub or tree of the west coast woodlands. Wood used in furniture or house building. Morne Acouma overlooking the Soufriere Valley is named after this tree.
Agouti (C) (Dasyprocta leporina) A brown-haired rodent with the shape of a very large guinea pig. Common in the rainforest and adjacent cultivation. Hunted for its meat. Introduced by Amerindians from South America.
Ajoupa (C) A lean-to, open-sided shelter built by the Caribs in the forest as part of a camp or as a workplace for canoe production. Construction materials include a frame of "round wood" tied with corde mahaut from mahaut cochon (Sterculia caribae) or mahaut dou (Hibiscus tiliaceus), covered with leaves of the balizier (Heleconia bihai) or zel-mouche (Carludovica spp.).
Allfrey, Phyllis Shand (1907 - 1986). Politician, novelist, poet and newspaper editor. Born in Roseau. Emigrated in her teens to the US and later to England where she got involved in Fabian Socialism, joined the British Labour Party and began her literary career. Published her only novel The Orchid House. Returned to Dominica in 1953. Founded the Dominica Labour Party with E.C. Loblack in 1955. Won a seat in the Federal elections of 1958 as a member of the parliament of the Federation of the West Indies. Was made Minister of Labour and Social Services. Returned to Dominica on the collapse of the Federation and was expelled from the DLP in a 'palace coup' in 1962. Taught briefly at The Wesley High School. Became editor of The Dominica Herald (1963 -1965) and The Dominica Star (1965 - 1982). Helped to found The Dominica Freedom Party in 1968.
Angelique Maroon woman captured along with others: Marie-Rose and Victorie, at the British raid on the camp of the maroon chief Balla during "The First Maroon War" 1785 -1786. Appeared in court, gave evidence on the size and numbers of maroon camps.
Anse (F) The Creole term meaning a 'bay' in the French influenced Antilles. Originates from the old 17th century French meaning "a nooke, bay, gulfe or arme of the sea". The word is no longer used in this manner in modern French.
Autou (F) Meaning "the hole", this is the precarious landing place for the fishermen of the village of Vieille Case. It is a rocky little cove bordered by cliffs with a narrow slope gaining access to the village. It was the landing place for Caribs and for the first missionaries and French settlers in the north of Dominica from 1642. The sloping field above Autou is an archaeological site scattered with the remains of pre-Columbian settlements.
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Balla (A) One of the leading maroon chiefs of the 18th century. Recorded as "born in Guinea". Was the chief of a maroon camp in the centre of the island near Bells. Became famous for leading an attack on Rosalie Estate in 1785. Was betrayed by a fellow slave of Belfast Estate and shot by a squad of Black Rangers in 1786. Was brought to Roseau and exposed on a gibbet, where he took a week to die. Was the inspiration for the song at the time "Balla mort, bois gatay", (Balla is dead, the woods are spoilt).
Balata (C) Manilkara bidentata. Sapindaceae. In English, Bullet Wood, Bullet Tree. Found at lower elevations and particularly along the north and east coasts. The hard reddish-brown, resistant wood is valued for construction work. Sap was also used by the Caribs for securing stone grating chips into the wooden board of their cassava graters. The fruit is edible. It is related to the sapodilla, shapotie, Manilkara zapota.
Balyay coco (F) A broom without a handle, made from the hard ribs of the leaves of the coconut tree (Cocoyay sticks). The dry leaves are stripped and the ribs are tied together into bundles averaging three inches thick and two feet long. Used mostly for outdoor cleaning and sweeping house yards.
Bananas (A) Botanically grouped under the Musa family. Bananas were introduced into the Caribbean during the early years of colonisation by the Spanish who carried plants from the Canary Islands. For centuries this was only a subsistence crop but with the invention of refrigeration at the end of the 19th century, it became possible to ship bananas to North America and Europe. Types known as Gros Michele, Lacatan and Cavendish were the main ones exported. The Shillingfords began the banana trade in Dominica in the 1930s and led the formation of the first banana association in the Windward Islands. After the interruption of World War II, Irish and English investors, Foley and Band, began exporting bananas on a large scale in June 1949. They founded Antilles Products, which was taken over by Geest in 1954. WINBAN was formed in 1958. The banana boom transformed the economies of the Windward Islands but decline began from 1992 when new international trading agreements came into force. Competition from Central American producers, rising costs and the ending of traditional trade protection heralded the collapse of the industry.
Batibou (C) The Carib name for a bay, a river, and the surrounding land along the north coast, which was renamed Hampstead by the British.
Beaubois (F) The Creole name given to the estate of Castle Comfort, south of Roseau. It was the custom for workers on estates to call the property by the name of the original owners. Gillon (Wallhouse), Docteur (Morne Prosper), Greg (Hillsborough), Robert (South Chiltern), are other examples. For many generations from the middle of the 18th century, the French planter, Chevalier de Beaubois, and his descendants, were the owners of Castle Comfort.
Béké (A) The Creole for a white person, but the word originates from West African languages, most notably Ijo: beké: "European". Igbo: beke "white man". Nembe: beke adj. "yellow in colour". Yoruba: bé-bé, adj."bright in colour". In Dominica it is also used in conjunction with "blanc" as in "Béké blanc". Among the French-influenced Antilles, there are different connotations to the term Béké. In Dominica it simply means white person, but in Martinique it applies to a white person of old Martinique family, often in a derogatory way to imply their assumed position of privilege and power. Also in derogatory use: Béké-nèg: (1) White trash, a low white person. (2) An albino.
Boucan (C) A bonfire usually made with dry branches, vines and tree trunks while clearing land for making a garden. In Carib it referred particularly to the method of roasting food on a wooden frame over an open fire.
Bouchiwee (F) The mouth of a river where it empties into the sea. Most of the larger streams on Dominica end in a small estuary with a sandbar on the shoreline creating a little lagoon. These are popular spots for bathing, washing clothes and in some cases drawing up boats. When titiri fish are in season the bouchiwee is the main site for catching these minute fish as they head up stream.
Boutu (C) A Carib war club made of the hardest forest wood, usually Balata or Carapite, and shaped with a long handle and angular, decorated, head. The word survives in Creole as the wooden implement, still carried by fishermen in their canoes and boats today, used to batter large fish such as marlin and sharks when caught.
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Canari (C) A large earthenware bowl made by the Caribs to ferment and store their cassava beer called ouicou. The original word was Canalli, which was adapted by the French and Africans to Canari. In Creole it means any large earthenware pot, but the Caribs had many different names for each type of pot according to its use. It is also the name of a stream, Layvyè Canari, at Castle Comfort.
Carib (E) A name used by Europeans to describe those people who inhabited the islands of the Lesser Antilles at the time of Columbus' second voyage in 1493. This was not what the people called themselves. The repeated use of the name for over five centuries however, has made it widely adopted even by the descendants of the people themselves. The French missionary Raymond Breton, visiting Dominica in 1642, recorded that the "Caribs'" name for themselves was Callinago in the "men's language" and Calliponam in the "women's language", while Callínemeti was "a good peaceful man". This has now led to the adoption of the word Kalinago and Karifuna by cultural groups, anthropologists and historians to describe the Caribs. The "Black Caribs" of Belize, who are descended from ancestors in St. Vincent, call themselves the "Garifuna".
Carib Reserve (E) A district on the north east coast now more popularly called the Carib Territory. It is an area of some 3,785 acres bordered roughly on the north by a ravine called Big River, to the west by the centre of the Pagua Valley, to the south by a line leading inland from the Aratouri Ravine and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. This was the rugged unoccupied part of the island to which the majority of Caribs retreated after the colonisation of the rest of Dominica by the French and British. However many other Caribs remained in their previously occupied zones and mixed with the newcomers. For years during the 19th century the district was known as the Carib Quarter. In 1902 the British Administrator Henry Hesketh Bell, influenced by Victorian anthropology and a personal desire to preserve "the last of the tribe", persuaded the British government to give him permission to declare the area as reserved for the Caribs. This was done on 4 July 1903. The plan of the Reserve was based on a tracing of the Byres map of 1776 but no actual survey was ever carried out and there has been continuous controversy over the boundary lines. Bell officially recognised a Chief of the Caribs. In 1952 local government introduced a council system and in 1978 a Carib Reserve Act was passed to further formalise the affairs of the Territory.
Caudeiron, Mabel "Cissie" Folklorist and teacher (1909-1968). As a child Mabel "Cissie" Boyd was always involved in plays and concerts and later composed many Creole songs highly influenced by the beguines of Martinique. She left the island for many years during her marriage to a Venezuelan, S. Caudeiron, and she raised her family in that South American country. She returned to Dominica in the early 1960s with renewed energy and determination to continue her earlier work for the greater recognition of Dominican folk heritage and traditional culture. She was a teacher at the Wesley High School. Supported by the Chief Minister, Edward Le Blanc, she helped to organise the first National Day celebrations of 1965. She founded the Kairi Artistic Troupe, the first group of its kind to be formed in Dominica, which represented the island abroad. Locally she researched and wrote articles on the heritage of music, dances and traditional dress. She was a Creole nationalist similar to others elsewhere in the Caribbean at the time who raised the national perception of folk culture to the forefront of national consciousness.
Cavalage (F) A mass of snakes entwined together during mating. This is usually seen in a secluded warm place among rocks or near sulphur springs. The term is also used as a reference to a place where a cavalage occurs. As many as twelve snakes have been seen together in a cavalage. Adapted in Creole from the French, cavalcade (kavalkad), in its meaning for 'swarm or unruly gang'.
Charles, Dame Mary Eugenia Lawyer, politician, and journalist. Born May 15, 1919 at Pointe Michel village, southern Dominica. Educated at the Convent High School, Roseau, and St. Joseph's Convent, Grenada. Read law at University of Toronto and called to the Bar at Inner Temple, London in 1949. Began private practice in Dominica that year. Wrote anonymously for the Herald and later the Star newspapers. Founded the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) in 1968. Entered the House of Assembly as Nominated Member 1970. Was elected and became Leader of Opposition in 1975. Became first Caribbean woman Prime Minister when the DFP won the 1980 general elections. Was re-elected in 1985 and 1990. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Harare, Zimbabwe in 1991. Retired from the House of Assembly in 1995. Best known outside of Dominica for her anti-communism during the last years of the Cold War in the Caribbean and, as Chairman of the OECS, for leading the invitation to the US to invade Grenada in October 1983.
Chatagnier (F) (Chatannyé) (Sloanea spp) One of the many families of trees in the forests of Dominica which were given names by the first French settlers because they looked like trees that they knew back in France. The leaf shape, tree size and spiny fruits of this tropical rain forest tree is vaguely similar to the European Chestnut (Chatagnier in French) but it is no relation to it. Of all the Sloanea species the Sloanea dentata and Sloanea massonii, both called Chatannyé grand féy, are the most recognizable in this way. The Caribs called the former, Ouloucáboula. They carved their canoe paddles out of the large buttress roots that support the tree. They also noted that it was a gathering place for parrots feeding on the fruit. Sloanea in the scientific name of the tree refers to the naturalist and collector Sir Hans Sloane who toured these islands in 1687 and gave his name to the species.
Cou Cou Bat Fé (F) The collection of materials used for making fire before matches were widely available. This consisted of a small tightly fitting container made of a small calabash in which was a collection of "fire flints"(jasper-like volcanic rocks), some dry tinder such as leaves or straw and, after colonial times, a piece of metal. To make fire, the flints were struck together, or the metal was used against the flint, and the resulting spark caught the tinder. The ignited tinder was blown on and tended until it became a full-blown fire.
Coubari (C) Hymenaea coubaril. West Indian Locust. From the Carib word, kaúrabali. One of the largest trees in the coastal vegetation zones of the littoral woodland and dry scrub forest. It has a smooth greyish bark, white flowers and thick woody pods shaped like spectacle cases with an edible pulp that children sometimes eat or which is made into a drink. It has a hard and beautiful wood that is excellent for furniture and was most popular from early colonial times for the making of four-poster beds. The scientific name is supposed to have originated from this practice, as Coubaril beds were the most prized wedding present. Hymen was the Greek god of marriage, hence Hymenaea.
Couleuvre (F) French for grass snake. Used in Creole to describe the two grass snakes: koulèv nwè Alsophis antillensis and koulèv sayga Liophis (Dromicus) juliae also known as kouwès. The long tubular cassava squeezer used by the Caribs was also called koulèv because the diamond-shaped basket weave resembled the snake's skin patterns.
Coubari (C) The Carib name for hummingbird. Also adopted by French and Creole speakers as in Coulibri Madère, Coulibri Falle Vèt, Coulibri Tete Blé. "Fou-fou" is also used instead of Coulibri. Used as place names for estates in the south of the island: Grand Coulibri near Grand Bay and Petit Coulibri near Soufriere. Coulibri was also the name given to the estate in the Dominican novel "Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys.
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Da-da (A) Nurse or elder female who takes care of a child. It comes from the West African Ewé language: da-da or da: an elder care taking sister.
Decouvé L'eglise (F) A rite of passage for children of the village of Vieille Case. It is a proud moment when a child is able to swim far enough out into the ocean beneath the steep cliffs at Au Tou, to a spot where they can see the roof (couvé) of the church (L'eglise) at the top of the village.
Defence Force (E) At the end of the 19th century a local volunteer Defence Force was set up to replace the old militia system. The militia had helped the resident British Regiments stationed in Dominica to defend the island and keep internal order. With the army gone, the Defence Force was to assist the police when needed and it was particularly on the alert during the two World Wars. Following the peace, the Force declined. In the years just before 1967, when Dominica achieved Associated Statehood with Britain, the volunteer Defence Force was revived. In November 1975 it was made a full time established branch of the security services by act of parliament. But lack of activity, conflicts with the duties of the Police Service, and gross irregularities exposed in an enquiry of 1978, as well as the attempt by senior Defence Force personnel to overthrow the Freedom Party government in 1981, led to the disbanding of the force.
D'Leau Gommier (F) One of the wettest parts of Dominica at the head of the Layou and Concord Valleys in the Central Forest Reserve. Also the name of a community nearby.
Diabless (F) (Djablés) One of the characters in Dominican folktales. A legendary evil figure. Literally, in the French, a she-devil. In most versions she appears as a beautiful young woman, usually to men travelling along isolated forest tracks by moonlight. She can be identified by her feet, one of which is a cloven hoof. She tempts her victim away off into the woods and then turns into a raging old hag who will cause men to go mad or die.
Diablotin (F) The French name for a type of bird, the Black Capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) that inhabited the higher peaks of the northern mountains in great numbers at the time of colonisation. It was named Diablotin, meaning 'little devils', because of its colour and eerie call. It was thought to be extinct but was seen again during the 1980s off the south east of Dominica. Hunting, during the early French days, killed off thousands. But the arrival of the rat on European ships was also a major cause for the decline because the eggs and chicks were easily taken from the holes on mountainsides where the Diablotins lived.
Diablotin, Morne, (F) The highest point on Dominica rising to 4747 feet or 1450 meters. It was named by the French after the Diablotin birds which inhabited its slopes. It is the largest of Dominica's eight 'live' volcanoes. It first erupted 12 million years ago and then again 40,000 years ago. The latter was the biggest eruption anywhere in the world in human history and ash from Diablotin has been found in Central America. The first eruption laid down the hard rock at sea level along the north coast. The second created the red kaolin clay of the area and leaching deposited the fine stoneless red soil. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was made by Dr. John Imray in 1862. It is now the centre of the Morne Diablotin National Park, established in January 2000.
Dominica The Latin name given by Christopher Columbus to the Kalinago island of Wai'tukubuli when he sighted it on Sunday 3 November 1493, named for "Dies Dominica", The day of the Lord. In French it is La Dominique. It first appears on a map of the world in 1505. ON one map it appears as "Insula Canibali": Cannibal Island. It is located in the Lesser Antilles at 15.30 degrees North and 61.20 degrees West. It is the largest and most northerly of the English speaking Windward Islands, with a land mass of 751 km2 and measuring 47 km in length and 25km in width. Its tallest peak, Morne Diablotin is 1447 meters high (4747 ft). It is the most mountainous island in the Caribbean and has the highest concentration of volcanoes on earth. This topography has created various micro-climates that has resulted in six major vegetation zones.
Dominica Club (E) A social club in Roseau established by the Administrator Hesketh Bell in 1901. It was intended for the recreation of the increasing number of English settlers whom he was encouraging to invest in Dominica. Like colonial clubs elsewhere in the British Empire it provided a bar, tennis, billiards and beds for planters coming from the country areas. At first situated where the Income Tax Office is now, it later moved to its present location on Bath Road. Well into the 1960s it was mainly the preserve of ex-patriates and was thus known as "the white people's club" by the rest of the populace; while the Union Club was "the mulatto club". With the decline of foreign colonial officials and managers, a more Dominican membership took over. Today it is even the venue for calypso shows.
Dreads (E) A violent group of disaffected youth who branched away from mainstream Rastafarianism in Dominica during the 1970s. Persons described as Dreads because of their lifestyle and "dread locks" took to living in the forest, raiding the gardens of farming communities and, particularly in the southern half of Dominica, some were responsible for the deaths of a number of citizens in isolated areas. As a mood of panic hit the island, The Prohibited and Unlawful Societies and Associations Act was passed in 1974, commonly called "The Dread Act". The wearing of grass skirts for clothes was also banned. Certain persons questioned the constitutionality of these measures. In August 1975 a Commission of Enquiry was established to look into the situation and its social causes. After a lull of some years, events reached a climax in 1981 when a group of Dreads, assisted secretly by members of the now defunct Defence Force, were found to be associated with plans to overthrow the Dominica Freedom Party government. The "Dread Act" was repealed and replaced by The Terrorist Act. By 1982 the "Dread period" could be said to have been over.
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Eggleston (E) The name of a village in the hills south of Roseau in the parish of St. George. In early records it appears as Eccleston which is a place in Lancashire and Merseyside in England. Soon however we see it as Eggleston. James and later Thomas Bell were the 19th century English owners of Eggleston and Morne Desmoulins. The estate grew sugar and provisions. As was the custom, the community which grew up and around the original estate house of Eggleston became known as "Kai Bell" (Bell's House). Several of Messrs. Bell's descendants still live at Eggleston and at neighbouring Giraudel.
Elmshall (E) Elm trees do not grow in the tropics, but there is another example of English place names being transferred to Dominica. In England there is also Elmsworth, Elsmstead, Elmham, and Elmley. Ours is situated on the southern banks of the Roseau River in the Roseau Valley in the parish of St. George. For atleast 150 years it has been under the same ownership as Bath Estate across the river. Owned by William Davies in the 19th century and then by L. Rose and Co. It was a sugar and then a lime estate. In the 1970's the Government bought the land and divided the estate into house lots. A large public cemetery and space for a school was also planned for the area, but somewhere along the line these plans were overruled.
Emancipation, Roman Catholic. Until 1829 Roman Catholics were not permitted to take part in any aspect of government employment or political representation in Dominica. Such positions were reserved for members of the established church: The church of England, and other Protestant faiths such as Methodists. By the "Roman Catholic Relief Act" passed in the British parliament in 1829, all disabilities were removed and Roman Catholics were admitted to public offices. In Britain itself certain restrictions remained such as that no monarch or their consort may be a Roman Catholic.
Everton (E) An estate in the valley behind Loubiere in the parish of St. George. Named after places in England; there is an Everton in Bedfordshire, Nottinghamshire, Mersyside and Hampshire. In old English it means boar farm. The estate in Dominica was owned from the 19th century by the heirs of R. Gordon. It was originally a sugar estate and then moved to growing limes, cocoa, and coffee. Now much of it is overgrown or under housing.
Everton Hall (E) Another variation of the English place names in Dominica. An estate in the parish of St. John on the shores of Douglas Bay. It is said by some that a sort of nickname was adopted for the place. This was "Tan Tan" thus giving it the present name to the community nearby. It is owned by the descendants of the Johnson family in Portsmouth. The ruins of an old water mill stand in the bush. There is a part of a tunnel for carrying water from the nearby stream to the mill. This has lead to the erroneous story that it is the end of a tunnel that begins at the Cabrits.
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Fab (F) A small community situated on a ridge and in a valley to the east of Fond St. Jean on the south coast. Possibly from the French 'Fable', as in fairy tale, for the magical quality of this little valley which runs down it's own rocky cove. It was one of the last communities to be connected by a motorable road, which was completed in 1999. The main occupation here is bay oil production and fishing.
Fond (F) Used in old French to describe the bottom of a valley. This term is used in Creole place names throughout Dominica such as Grand Fond, Fond Cani, Fond Colé, Fond St. Jean, Fond Bleu, Fond Trouvé, Fond Lapluie, Fond Cirique and many others. In areas such as Clifton on the north-west coast some places or small estates are simply called 'Fond' with no additional designation.
Fort Shirley The headquarters and main defence post of the British army garrison at the Cabrits on the north-west coast of Dominica. Construction began under the direction Sir Thomas Shirley, Governor of Dominica (1774-1776) after whom it was named. It has a polygon layout marked by two gun batteries, the lower and upper battery, overlooking the entrance to Prince Rupert Bay. Other buildings are troop barracks, officers quarters, kitchens and mess, guard room, powder magazines, three cisterns, artillery and ordnance stores and the remains of earthwork. The main action there was the revolt of the 8th West India Regiment, 'The Black Regiment', in 1802 and an attempted attack by the French in 1805. It was closed down like other forts in 1854 but was used briefly in the 1870's and the 1920's as a hospital and quarantine station and later as an agricultural centre.
Fromager (Fromajé) (F) The Creole name for the Silk Cotton Tree or Kapok (Ceiba pentrandra). The name originates from the French for 'cheese' because the early French settlers found that the smell of the ripe seapod reminded them of cheese. This tall and imposing tree is a native of the Caribbean and South America and it was strongly associated in Amerindian mythology with the spirit world. With the arrivals of the Africans, this belief was transferred, and in Haiti, offerings and voodoo ceremonies still take place around the roots at the base of the tree. In Dominican folklore it was a tree frequented by Soucouyans who rested on the long angular branches. In English it is the Silk Cotton Tree because the seeds are carried by the wind in bolls of fine fibre which was used for stuffing pillows and padding life belts before foam plastics had been invented. On Dominica it grows mainly along the west-coast where it dominates the Dry Scrub Woodland. Several villages, such as Massacre, have parts of the community, which are called Fromajé, because a tree once grew there and still does.
Frozen Joys (E) Sweetly flavoured ice cubes that were sold by street vendors and small shopkeepers following the introduction of privately owned refrigerators. These childhood favourites have been largely replaced by 'Ice Pops', which are basically the same mixtures, but now frozen and sold in small plastic bags. Children bite off one corner of the bag and suck out the ice.
Fort Cashacrou (E,C) The first British Fort to be constructed on Dominica. It is situated on the volcanic headline of Cashacrou Point at the southern end of Dominica and overlooks the Martinique Channel and along the west coast of Dominica. Building began in 1765 under the direction of Lieutenant Governor George Scott, after whom the British mapmakers named the headland: Scoot's Head. The fort was designed as the first outlook station for enemy attacks coming from the south or southeast of Dominica and as a signal station for the sending of messages northwards along the coast. It was also designed to repel attacks from land and sea. A number of small gun batteries were placed at different levels facing towards all points of the compass. Solier's barracks, cisterns, kitchens, and a powder magazine were built on the eastern slopes of the point . A jetty offloading supplies existed in the sheltered bay at the foot of the hill. The fort saw action on 7th September 1778, when the British were defeated by the French, who were aided by the villagers of Cashacrou who had got the British troops drunk at a party the night before and had 'spiked' the cannons, filling them with sand. The fort was closed in 1854 and much of the building work has slipped into the sea since then.
Feilité (F) The name of an estate on the east coast near La Plaine and also a lesser known one in the hills of the parish of St. Peter on the west coast. This type of name, celebrating contentment and good fortune is common in Dominica. Some examples are Delices (delightful), Fotuné (fortune), Bon Repos (good rest) and Tranquillité (tranquility). Feilité at La Plaine was owned by the family of Thomas Davies in the 19th century and by the Green family in the 20th century. Feilité in the west coast is owned by the heirs of R.G. Gilbert.
Frégat (Frega, Frigate) (F) The Creole name for the magnificent Frigate Bird ( Frigatamagnificens) which is seen all along the chain of the Lesser Antilles. Named by early European naval crews for it's tendency to follow a class of naval vessels called 'frigates', as they cruised the Caribbean. In Creole it is sometimes called sizo, for its scissorshape tail feathers. It is a common sight along the coast of Dominica and comes over land during stormy weather. It breeds on the offshore islets along the east coast, but many come to us from as far a field as a big nesting colony on Barbuda. The diet is usually fish, taken from or near the surface by swooping from flight and hovering. They never land on the water because of the difficulty they would have taking off again.
Frégat, Morne Au (F) A high ridge in in the area of Riviere Cirique on the east coast which early French settlers associated with the frigate bird.
Farine (F) The fibrous flour which is produced from processing the root of the bitter cassava or manioc (Manihot utilissima). This was the staple food of the indigenous people from the time they brought plants with them from South America two thousand years ago. The manioc tubers are grated, the poisonous juices are squeezed out and the remainder is heated in 'platin' until it is completely dry. This farine can be kept for long periods and is mixed with fruits such as avocado pear.
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Geneva (F): The main estate at Grand Bay once occupying over 1000 acres from sea to mountain top. Formerly known as 'Les Jesuites' when it was owned by members of that religious order. Later bought by a Frenchman, Anthony Bertrand, whose family had been exiled to Geneva in Switzerland, after being banished from France because they were Huguenots. The Bertrands called the place Geneva after their former home. It produced sugar, molasses and rum. In the 1820's they sold it to the Lockhart family, and in 1949 the last Lockhart heir, Norman, sold it to Elias Nassief. After disturbances in 1974, when estate buildings were burned, the government took over the estate. Geneva has a turbulent history and saw attack and arson in 1791,1844 and 1974. It features in the literary works of author Jean Rhys, particularly in her novel "Wide Sargasso Sea" where it is called Coulibri. Now it is divided into private holding and state lands for public use.
Grand Bay (F): Originally named by the French 'La Grande Baye' being the largest bay in the south of the island stretching from Pointe Tanama to Pointe Carib. It was first settled by Amerindian people from South America over two thousand years ago in the area known as 'Spring'. They called it Bericoua...'Coua' is the Carib for the white land crab which was plentiful in the area. In the early 1700's settlers from Martinique made deals with the Caribs for taking timber and gradually took over lands in the area. One, a free black named Jeannot Rolle acquired a large portion of land near the shore and begun a plantation. It was he who erected the carved stone cross to replace his wooden crosses which the Caribs had destroyed. This is still known today as "La Belle Croix". Rolle invited the Jesuit Order of priests to Establish a mission there, but they got into questionable plantation business and when the order was banished from all French colonies, their land was taken over by English creditors. Plantation work started in earnest and large numbers of slaves were imported. These were the first to escape to the hills and become Maroons and throughout the slavery period and beyond, Grand Bay was the site of resistance. It witnessed a slave revolt in 1791, the Census Riots (La Guerre Negre) in 1844 and more turmoil in the 1970's. The main village surrounds L'Allay, a narrow strip of land to which the ex-slaves of Geneva and Grand Coulibri (Bordeaux) retreated after emancipation. Since 1974 the settlement , schools and community buildings have extended into the neighbouring estates.
Griffin, Drs CN and PN: Two doctors, father and son who served Dominica in important areas of medical care at different times in the 20th century. Dr. Charles Norman Griffin, trained at McGill, Canada, was appointed assistant medical officer in Roseau in 1923 and served in Grand Bay from 1924 to 1926. From 1929 he was medical officer of Health and served in 1934 Chief Medical Officer until 1939 when he was transferred to St. Kitts. His son Philip Norman Griffin graduated from Sheffield University, UK and took up the duties in Grand Bay in 1954. Transferred to Roseau in 1957, he was one of the pioneers of the new Princess Margaret Hospital where he was in charge of laboratory services among other duties. Later he was Specialist Anaesthetist at PMH. After years of private practice he retired in 1996.
Garraway: (E) One of the leading families in Dominica during the 19th century. The most distinguished member being James Garraway who rose to be President of Dominica in the 1860's, the equivalent of the Governor. Described at the time as "The first man of African blood who ever reached this high honour in any of the former slave holding dependencies of the British Crown". He was the founder of J.A.S Garraway, which is the oldest surviving company in Dominica. His father Robert, was influential in the construction of the Anglican church. The family owned Morne Prosper estate and much later Mount Eolus estate at Portsmouth.
George III (1738-1820): King of Great Britain and her colonies from 1760-1820. He ruled over the primary period of the British colonisation of Dominica and took decisions involving the island's affairs from the time of the Treaty of Paris in 1763. His name survives in Roseau in King's Hill, Great George Street and Hanover being the royal house to which he belonged. There was an attempt by the British to rename Roseau, Charlotteville, after his wife, Queen Charlotte, but that did not survive except for Charlotte Valley down in Newtown. It is said that all of the £ 313,666 which was raised from the British sale of land in Dominica in the 1770's went to king George in lieu of a dowry that he did not receive from the family of Queen Charlotte . But this has not been confirmed.
Gommier (F) : (Darryodes excelsa) Chibou in Carib. One of the largest and most common trees in the tropical rainforest zone of Dominica. Used for over two thousand years from precolumbian times for the construction of dugout canoes. In the 20th century this tree was the focus of attention for the five timber companies that tried to establish themselves here without success . The wood was used for housing which was a failure because of its susceptibility to termites. It is more practical as furniture wood. The Caribs had several uses for the flammable gum and the French used it as incense for religious purposes. It forms part of several place names around the island: Gommier Stewart, Gommier Letang and D'leau Gommier are some of them.
Goodwill: An estate of 437 acres north of Roseau laid out by British crown surveyors in the 1760's and sold to James Woodbridge who gave the estate its name . It's sugar factory was powered by water from the Roseau River. The factory now houses the offices of the Physical Planning Department and Youth Division. The water canal survives in some parts and gives its name to Canal Lane. In the early 20th century the estate changed from sugar to limes. It was owned from the late 19th century by the Potter family, hence the community of Pottersville nearby. It was purchased by the Government in the late 1940's for the extension of Roseau. The design for housing with playing fields , a Stock Farm, new prison and new hospital transformed the island's capital in the 1950's. The names and streets of Goodwill were the first in Dominica to recognise local contributors to the island's development and reads like a "Who's Who" of the 1950's. Franklyn Lane (Frank Baron), Bowers Lane (Bishop Bowers), Charles Avenue (J.B Charles), Winston Lane ( Austin 'Pappy' Winston) are just a few examples.
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Hampstead: (E) An estate on the north coast of Dominica surveyed and sold by the British in the 1760's and named by it's first owners after the London suburb of Hampstead. The Caribs called the area Batibou. As with all of their main sugar estates on Dominica, the Hampstead sugar factory was powered by water, in this case from the Hampstead River. The works still stand with the equipment in place and it is one of the best surviving examples of the 18th century technology on the island. Produce on the island was shipped from it's own port on Hampstead beach. A small gun battery with one mounted cannon guarded the bay. The cannon now stands in the foyer of the Arbeedee Cinema in Portsmouth . In the late 19th century the estate shifted to growing limes and cocoa and in the 20th century changed to coconuts and copra production. From the late 19th century the estate was owned by the McIntyre family, but in the 1930's due to McIntyre's indebtedness to the Government Loan Board, the government took over the estate and managed it until it was bought by R. B Douglas in 1946 whose descendants now own the estate.
Hertford: (E) An estate on the west coast of Dominica originating from the 1760's British surveys of the island and named Hertford by it's first English owners after a county in England. However as was common in Dominica, the workers and neighbours called the estate after its original owner James Jimmit, and its still best known today as Jimmit. It produced cocoa and cordwood, the latter product being exported in vast quantities to other islands such as Barbados and Antigua where all of their forests had already been cut down for fuel for their sugar factories. As a result most of Hertford remained dry and unproductive while mainly the valley area was cultivated with sugar and later limes. In the 20th century it was owned by Dr. Daniel Thaly and in the 1930's a small portion at the northernmost end was sold to government for the construction of a Leper home, closed in 1982.
Hibichet: (C) The woven sifter made by the Caribs since ancient times for sifting grated manioc when making farine. First a circular frame about two feet or more in diameter is made using a forest liana. Across this is woven a basket mesh using strips of the larouma reed. The grated manioc is then thrown onto the hibichet by the handful and is pressed in a circular movement across the mesh so as to remove lumpy bits of manioc.
Hurricane: (C) The violent storms which cross the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of Africa to the Caribbean region during the months of June through to November. They tend to be most intense when the sun is directly over these latitudes in late August and September. Caused by heat rising off the surface of the West Atlantic interacting with bands of cloud and rain known as Tropical Waves. This results in waves curling into intense weather systems around an "eye" with wind speeds rising to well ovr 100 mph and gusting to 200 mph in the most violent storms. The word originates from the Amerindian word Ouragan, also known by the Caribs as ioullou and bointara. The worst recorded hurricanes hit Dominica in 1781, 1806, 1813, 1825, 1834, 1930, 1979.
Hamilton Report: One of two major reports in the history of Dominica based on a Commission of Inquiry carried out in 1893 into the conditions of the people of Dominica and making recommendations for improvements and developments into the twentieth century. The other major report was that of the Moyne Commission of 1940. The Hamilton Report was named after the commissioner Sir Robert Hamilton who was sent out here to find out why Dominica was "more backward and less developed than almost any the other of the islands...and why its people were less properous and contented than Her Majesty's other West Indian subjects." He recommended, land distribution, small farmer education, an agricultural school, changes in the system of government, tighter control of finances, improved marketing for agricultural crops and agricultural manufacturing. Many of his recommendations were never carried out and several of them are still as necessary today as they were over one hundred years ago.
Hammock:(C) The traditional bed of the Caribs before the introduction of the solid wooden bed from Europe. Hammocks were made by weaving a square net using several the fibres of the heleconia (balizier) and certain bromeliads (la pite). The strings at two ends of the square were linked together and tied so that the hammock could swing between trees and posts. The Caribs travelled with their hammocks which could be put up wherever and whenever they needed them. Special corners of the Carib communal houses or Karbays were left vacant so that visitor could hang their hammocks when they came to stay.
Harris, Francis, Otho, Coleridge "Cosie":(1918 -1989) Judge, legislator, legal draughtsman. Born in Roseau 30 December 1918. Educated at the Dominica Grammar School, Toronto University, University of Oxford. Called to the Bar at the Middle Temple, London in November 1984, returned to Dominica and entered private practice . Elected in 1951 to the legislative council (Roseau South constituency). Made member of the Executive Council in 1954 . Representative on the Council of the University College of the West Indies, 1954. Legal Affairs in the WI Federal Government and Puisne Judge in Camerron, Africa. Led the revision of The Laws of Malawi, Guyana, Trinidad and Dominica. Excelled in sports, captained his Oxford cricket team.
Hatton Garden: (E) An estate on the norhteast coast in the broad Pagua Valley which was once 300 acres in size. It was one of the prime estates in the original 1776 British survey of the island and it was owned named by the first English owners after a street in London called Hatten Garden famed for its shops trading in diamonds. The ruins of its mill and sugar and lime factory are still occupied. The water to power the mill was channelled in a canal from the St. Marie or Crapeau Hall River. In 1882, six years before emancipation, 197 slaves worked there and it produced 161,280 pounds of sugar and 5,500 gallons of rum. The water mill was in working order up to the end of the 1960's. In the 19th century the estate was owned by the Anderson Family, then in the 20th century by J.J. Musgrave and his heirs, then by the Shillingfords and latterly by the late Frobel Laville who subdivided and sold or distributed portions of the estate.
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Ice: (E) Until the installation of the first electricity power station in Roseau in 1905, ice was not produced in Dominica. It had to be imported from ships from northern Canada where natural ice was cut off from glaciers, stored in sawdust and brought to the Caribbean for sale. In 1900 this imported ice cost two pence a pound in Roseau. With the arrival of electricity the first commercial ice plant was established by Ferreira and Company on the Roseau River bank near the present East Bridge. This ice could be enjoyed at Ferreira's bar and hotel called "The Paz" on the present site of Whitchurch Supercenter. Eventually a much larger Ice Factory was constructed on Goodwill Road on the site of the present DBMC building. It operated until the early 1960's and by then home based domestic freezers were providing enough ice for everyone's needs.
Imperial Parrot: (E) The English name for the Sisserou parrot, taken from the Latin scientific name (Amazona Imperialis).
Imperial Road: (E) When British administrator, Hesketh Bell, took office in 1898, he had a dream of opening up the interior of Dominica to British investors for large scale agricultural projects such as the growing of cocoa, coffee, limes and rubber. To access these lands and to eventually cross the island, he began a road on the coast at Canefield and, utilising most of a British "imperial grant" of £15,000, he directed its construction until the money ran out at Bassinville, now known as Belles, in 1906. Large tracts of Crown Land were sold to investors, but within a few years their enterprises and the forest took over their property and houses once more. The names of estates remain: Middleham, Sylvania, Corona, Brantbridge, Lancershire, Riversdale, and Harris Soltoun are the chief ones. The winding road, diverted in places to access those estates, survived to become part of the main highway, across the island. Because it had been built with an imperial grant, Belle christened it "The Imperial Road" and the section from Canefield to Pont Cassee still goes by that name.
Island House: (E) A once successful hotel which operated up the Roseau Valley behind Wotton Waven in the 1960's and 1970's. It was built and operated by a couple from Florida, Pete and Margie Brand. It was a classic eco-hotel before eco-tourism had been a catch phrase in Dominica. The construction utilised natural materials such as tree fern trunks, grass mats and wall hangings, local hardwoods and exotic tropical features with a pool channelling water from a nearby stream. The unsettled "Dread" period in the 1970's, when tourist arrival fell drastically, debt, and eventually Hurricane David in 1979, brought the hotel to a close. It's style has never been matched since, in spite of all the hype and investment into "Nature Tourism".
Itassi: (C) The Carib name for Vieille Case. It was the site of a major Carib village on the north coast. Here Father Raymond Breton, the French priest of the Dominican order, celebrated the first Roman Catholic Mass among the Caribs in 1646 in the big Karbay of Chief Kalamiena of Itassi.
Imray, Dr. John: (1811 - 1880) Medical doctor, legislator, agriculturist, botanist. One of the most distinguished contributors to Dominica's development in several fields, particularly in health care and agriculture. Born in Scotland in 1811, studied medicine in Edinburgh University and arrived in Dominica in 1832 to take up the only public medical post at the time: surgeon to the prison. Realising that much had to be done, Imray almost single-handedly pioneered health service, guiding the establishment of the first infirmary and hospital and drafting and guiding through the House of Assembly the first public health legislation. His papers written on tropical diseases gained world-wide attention as did his studies of tropical botany. A number of forest plants are named after him. In agriculture he saved the island from deeper ruin by promoting a change in the type of coffee grown after a blight had decimated the industry. He led the way in the cultivation and processing of limes at his estate in Batali. He was the pioneer spokesman for small peasant farmers as contributors to Dominica's economy. He had no children and left his estate in St. Aroment and Kingsland House in Roseau as well as his library and other possessions to his protégé, Dr. Henry A. A. Nicholls, who carried on his work. The Imray ward at the Princess Margaret Hospital is named after him.
Imray Hall: The parish hall for the St. George's Anglican Church, built in the 1880's with money left for that purpose in the will of Dr. John Imray. Situated at the intersection of Turkey Lane and Jewel Street, it served as a meeting place and small theatre for over eighty years until it was destroyed by Hurricane David in 1979.
Imray Memorial: A document drawn up by Dr. John Imray in 1873 and supported by the liberal members of the House of Assembly which was critical of the system of Government and in effect demanded a new constitution. The Crown rejected it.
Imray's View: A bluff on the top of Morne Diablotin, just to the south-east of the summit, with spectacular views across the island and beyond. Named in honour of Dr. John Imray who made the first recorded ascent of the mountain in 1862, climbing with a team of bush cutters and porters from Dublanc village and camping in the forest for two nights on the way there and back.
Ireland: Many English landlords in Ireland invested in Dominica in the 1770's and so we have several Irish place names: Antrim, Belfast, Londonderry, Connor, O'Hara River, Cork as in Cork Street. There are several surnames in Dominica which are based on a combination of Irish influence and arrivals from Montserrat such as Irish, Dublin, Drigo, O'Garro, O'Brien and Murphy.
Icacou: (C) The Carib word for the Fat Pork bush (Chrysobalanus icaco) which in Creole became Zicaque or Zicack. ('Les', the plural in French, is transformed into 'se' or 'ze' in Creole, so Les Icacou, became Les Icacque and then Zicack). Some parts of Dominica where the zicack plant grew plentifully are called by that name, most notably Zicack in Portsmouth.
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John, Patrick, Roland: (1938- ) Prime Minister, parliamentarian, mayor, trade unionist, teacher, sportsman. Born in Roseau 7 January 1938. Educated at the Roseau Boys School and the St. Mary's Academy where he later taught for four years. Worked as a shipping clerk at H.H.V. Whitchurch & Co. before leaving to organize the Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU). Elected to the Roseau Town Council and served as Mayor from 1965. In 1970 contested the general elections as a member of the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) and won the Roseau seat, serving in the Le Blanc government at different times as Minister of Communications and Works, Home Affairs, Agriculture and Finance. In 1974 took over the leadership of the DLP from Edward Le Blanc and prepared the party with a new younger look for the general elections of 1975. This he won with a landslide, the DLP capturing 16 of the 21 seats in the House of Assembly. He became Premier and in the following year at Salisbury issued the Salisbury Declaration, preparing Dominica for negotiations towards full independence. This was achieved on 3 November 1978 and John became the first Prime Minister.
He was bestowed with Venezuela's highest honour, The Order of Francisco de Miranda. He obtained a correspondence doctorate in Metaphysics. The 1970s were however wracked with serious political upheavals covering John's entire period of office: strikes, pay rise demands by the Civil Service Association (CSA), states of emergency, the "Dread Period", the rise of the Dominica Defence Force (DDF) of which John declared himself Colonel, and clashes with the opposition Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), particularly with its leader Eugenia Charles and with Dominica Liberation Movement Alliance activists as well as sections of his own party led by Michael Douglas.His close association with President Forbes Burnham of Guyana was much criticized.
In 1979, heavily influenced by the Attorney General Leo Austin, the DLP engaged in deals and took legislative action that stirred up the population in violent response. On 29 May 1979 demonstrators outside the House of Assembly were shot at by the DDF, several were injured and one youth was killed. Representatives of civil society gathered under the leadership of the Committee for National Salvation (CNS) and called for the resignation of the government. John and Finance Minister Victor Riviere did not resign, but other members did, shifting the balance of power that resulted in a new "interim government" headed by Prime Minister Oliver Seraphin.
In the general elections of 1980 John lost his seat in the Assembly and disaffected DDF members, former DLP supporters, aided by a group of Dreads near Giraudel and foreign mercenaries sought to overthrow the duly elected (DFP) government led by Eugenia Charles. The attempts at a coup d'état were discovered, thwarted, and the plotters both in Dominica and the US were exposed. Under emergency powers, John and others were arrested. In court cases, which followed the trial judge found that John had no case to answer and he was released, but the State appealed and the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial to take place. In October 1985 John was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the government. After several appeals from various persons to Eugenia Charles for leniency, he was released on 29 May 1990. He resumed a role in public life particularly in sports, becoming President of the Dominica Football Association and serving as warden of the St. George's Anglican Church.
James, Edison, Chenfil: (1943- ) Prime Minister, parliamentarian, agriculturist, sportsman. Born at Marigot, 18 October 1943. Educated at the Marigot Government School and the Dominica Grammar School. Emigrated to England in 1964 where he studied at the East London Polytechnic, the University of Reading and the Imperial College, London, at which institutions he obtained B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Botany, Biochemistry and Crop Protection Technology. He returned to Dominica in 1973, first teaching at the St. Mary's Academy and then taking up posts with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Canadian funded Coconut Rehabilitation Project. From 1980 to 1987 he was general manager of the Dominica Banana Growers Association (DBGA) and then the newly established Dominica Banana Marketing Corporation (DBMC). He served the sport of cricket as player and manager in positions both local and regional. In 1988 he lead the formation of The United Workers Party (UWP) and prepared it for the 1990 general elections. At this the UWP gained 6 seats and James became Leader of The Opposition. The UWP won the 1995 general elections with 11 seats and formed the government with Edison James as Prime Minister. The party lost the government in the general election of January 2000, gaining only 9 seats, which were reduced to 8 when one member crossed the floor. From February 2000 James returned to the position of Leader of The Opposition.
Jardin Kwaib: (F) The traditional mixed-crop garden layout of the Caribs that existed before European colonisation introduced the plantation mono-crop form of agriculture. The mixed-crop pattern was continued among Caribs and Creole African subsistent small farmers in slash-and-burn gardens in the hills. The French called this type of farming "Jardin Caraibe" to differentiate it from the "L'habitation" or plantation pattern. The Caribs called their gardens "Ichali". As Fr. Breton noted, "...the houses of the Caribs are separate from their gardens: one section here, another there, which is different from the French who have all their habitations and their gardens together in one place." The Carib Ichali was far better suited to the ecology of the island with small clearings of tree crops and root crops, herbs and vines all mixed. This protected the soil from erosion and aided soil nutrition as one plant type benefited the other. The forests surrounding the gardens provided nutrients and protection from wind.
Jombie: (A) An evil spirit. The word originates from a branch of the Bantu language especially of the kongo-ngola group in which there is the good nsambi "God" and the evil nsumbi "Devil". Carried across from Africa to Dominica in various Central and West African language sub-groups, nsumbi became Jumbie or Jombie in its Creole form. Good and evil were under the same spiritual power constantly tussling for a balance between the two. Songs and religious practices celebrated the contest, but over time only the Jombie, the evil spirit, was remembered. In early folklore this Jombie could affect your health while you were asleep at night or wreck your good fortune. Practitioners of Obeah were supposed to be able to drive the spirit out or make it affect others. The Jombie is also used as a bogeyman in stories to frighten children into obedience.
Jacko: One of the most important maroon chiefs commanding camps of escaped slaves in the center of the island during the period of slavery. Born in Africa, Jacko (also written Jacco) escaped from Beaubois Estate (Castle Comfort) soon after his transportation to Dominica in the late 1760's. He established himself and his followers on a plateau near the present day village of Bells. He was the main strategist for much of the maroon activity in Dominica during the Maroon wars of the 1780's and 1810's. When Governor Ainslie launched his big offensive against the maroons in 1812, Jacko's camp was one of the main targets. On 12 July 1814 ageing Jacko was surrounded and killed after a desperate resistance. Reports at the time said that he had been in the forest " for upward of forty years." Five leaders of his camp surrendered and the loss of Jacko's leadership was a blow to the morale of the maroons.
Jacko Flats: A plateau high above the Layou River near the village of Bells. Made of compacted volcanic tuff, the river and its tributaries have cut sheer cliffs along three sides of the plateau, making it very difficult to get to the land on top of it. This was the site of the maroon chief Jacko. In the late 1800s, long after the maroon activity was over, this land and other such plateaus in the upper reaches of the Layou Valley were felt to be ideal to be opened up by the new pioneers from Britain to grow coffee, cocoa, rubber, and limes. The Jacko Flats and nearby lands at Neba amounting to 911 acres was bought by Mr. A. Campbell, but his efforts at coffee growing were a failure and the land reverted to bush.
Jacko Steps: The maroons of Jacko's camp cut high steps out of the side of the cliff surrounding Jacko Flats so as to ascend the plateau more easily. The steps were designed in a way to give security to those above and to provide control over those attempting to scale the cliff. The historian Thomas Atwood describes these steps in his book of 11791. Each step was high above the other, forcing people to pull themselves up at every stage. When the pioneer planter A. Campbell bought the land in the 1980's, he got workers to cut each step at a lower level for more easy access and he ran cables through iron loops alongside for added safety. The cables are gone but the steps may still be visited.
Jacquot: Also spelt, Jacko. The local Creole name for the Red Necked Parrot, Amozona arausiaca.
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Karam: A Lebanese family, which immigrated to Dominica from the Middle East at the end of the 19th century via the French territories. Along with the Dibs they were among the first of many Lebanese traders to settle in Dominica. For years they remained in the dry goods business, but Dominican born members of the family branched out into other services. The first was George 'Jojo" Karam who began a motorcar sales and repair business in the 1950's. He was also the first to become involved in behind-the-scenes political support, backing the Dominican Labour party, particularly during the Le Blanc era. Once in the 1970's, when no one went up for nomination for the Roseau Town Council elections, he filled the entire council with his family, who ran the affairs of the town for a full term. Later in life he moved into tourism, operating the Coconut Beach Hotel at Picard, Portsmouth.
Karbay: (F/C) Also written in French as "Carbet". A term used by the French to describe the main meetinghouse and settlements of the Caribs. The Caribs themselves called this house "Taboui", but the French settlers had picked up the name "Karbay" when they had lived among the Tupi-guanari tribe of Amerindians in Brazil. The French had also brought many Tupi-guanari people from Brazil to work for them in Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe. These people used their own language to describe familiar things that they saw in Dominica. Several words today that are passed off as Carib have their origins in the Tupi-guanari language. This word "Karbay" is one of them. It was used so often in the French/Carib/Tupi-guanari/Creole language that was emerging, that succeeding generations of Caribs abandoned their own word "Taboui" and adopted "Karbay". It has been used for so long by the Caribs, that today it is considered by them to be a Carib word.
King George V Street: One of the main streets of Roseau, which runs along the old Carib and French road, that went from the landing place up into the Roseau Valley. The British called it Market Street because it began at the main marketplace. It was also known as Gaol Street, because the main jail was at the other end. In 1935 King George V and his consort Queen Mary celebrated 25 years on the throne. During the Silver Jubilee celebrations in Dominica, two Roseau streets were renamed in their honour: Granby Street was renamed after Queen Mary, and Market Street was renamed for King George. As one local wit put it: "The husband and wife met at the bottom of Constitution Hill".
Kings Hill: The Hill leading up to and surrounding the old military garrison on Morne Bruce on one side. Named in honour of the monarch of the day, George III. The top part of it was utilised by the Botanic Gardens and was the site of the military graveyard, now covered in bush. In the 1960's it was laid out for low cost housing and the expansion of suburban Roseau.
Kaire, (Acaera): (C) For many years this was mistaken to be the indigenous name of Dominica. It is also clamed by Trinidad. It is the Arawakan word for "an island". The mistake arose during the second voyage of Columbus when the Spanish first sighted and named Dominica. When they reached neighbouring Guadeloupe (Karouacaera), a writer on the voyage, pointing across to Dominica, asked one of the women what was the name of the first place that they had sighted. She apparently replied in Carib, "acaera", which, like kaire in Arawakan simply means "an island". In his journal the writer noted down "Ceyre... is the first [island] we saw but did not visit". This report , based on a mistake led to the belief that the island Dominica, was called Kaire. Some one hundred and fifty years later Father Breton found out that the Carib name for the island was actually Ouaituoucoubouli, now written Wai'tukubuli.
Kaklin: (C) (Clusia venosa). This is the dominant tree of the Elfin Woodland of Dominica's mountains. It is also sometimes found in the Littoral Forest along the east and northeast coast clinging to cliffs and to the sides of ravines. It has thick rubbery leaves which can withstand the wind and almost constant rain or sea spray. It bears a glossy deep purple coloured fruit. It's hanging aerial roots are used to make the frames of certain types of baskets.
Kalinago: (C) The Carib word for the Carib people. As Father Breton who lived among the Kalinago in Dominica off and on between 1642 and 1653 says in his dictionary: "This is the real name of the Caribs of the Islands". He wrote it as "Callinago", but the usual phonetic writing today is "Kalingo". "Kalinenmeti" means "A good peaceful man".
Karifuna: (C) The Carib word for the Carib women. Father Breton says: "The women are called Calliponam". Some linguists say that this is the name of the women "in the women's language". There is also confusion over the pronunciation of the letters "L" and "P" in the Carib language. In many cases these letters were actually pronounced as "R" and "F" respectively, so Breton's Calliponam may actually have been Carifunam, which became Karifuna. The Black Caribs of St. Vincent who were expelled by the British in 1797 to Rautan Island off Belize, and who now live in southern Belize, call themselves the "Garifuna". The main Carib cultural group in Dominica, established in 1978, call themselves The Karifuna Cultural Group.
Kingsland House: (E) A large town house that once existed at the top of King George V Street in Roseau surrounded by a beautiful garden on the site of what is now Astaphan's Supermarket. Dr. John Imray owned the house and on his death left it to Dr. Henry A. A. Nicholls. One of Nicholl's daughters, Miss Maggie, was the last owner of the residence, which she ran as a guesthouse. She sold it to Mr. Waddy Astaphan in 1957. Kingsland House was demolished and the supermarket, the largest building in Dominica at the time, was constructed in its place and was opened in 1960.
Kiere: (C) The Carib name for manioc (Manihot esculenta). The women called it "kai".
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Le Blanc, Edward Oliver: (1923 - ) Premier, Chief Minister, Agricultural Officer and Poet. Born at Vieille Case, 3 October 1923. He was educated at the Vieille Case government school and took a course in agriculture at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad in 1944. He later studied on his own for the London Matriculation Certificate obtained in 1948. Worked in the civil service as Agricultural Instructor 1945-1953. Then was employed by the Dominica Banana Growers Association (DBGA) as agent in the northern district. Served during this time as nominated and then elected member of the Vieille Case Village Council. In his spare time he wrote poetry, some of which was published in the US.
In 1957 he joined Dominica Labour Party (DLP), which had been founded two years earlier by Phyllis Allfrey and E.C Loblack. Le Blanc contested the general elections of that year and won the Portsmouth seat in the Legislative council. The following year he resigned his seat to contest the Federal Elections, and along with Phyllis Allfrey, represented Dominica in the Federal Parliament of the West Indies. In 1960 he resigned from the Federal Parliament to contest the local Dominica general elections of 1961. He led the (DLP) to its first victory, winning the Roseau South constituency, becoming Chief Minister and Minister of Finance. In the aftermath of the collapse of the WI Federation in May 1962 he participated in all of the conferences in London attempting to save a federation of "the little eight" islands which were left after Jamaica and Trinidad went independent. Finally, when all else failed, he attended the 1966 Lancaster House Conference to make Dominica a self-governing Associated State in March 1967. He became the island's first Premier.
From the following year political pressure increased with the formation of The Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) out of remnants of old DUPP as a result of unpopular legislation passed by the DLP. In spite of this, Le Blanc's widespread popularity in the countryside rode triumphant. He was associated with the great social, economic and infrastructural changes that swept Dominica during the 1960's. The regional banana boom, Colonial Development & Welfare (CDW) funded projects planned long before, and the tide of change sweeping the Caribbean had much to with this, but locally, Le Blanc was associated with leading all these achievements. His championing of the cause of "the little man" against the strangle hold of the old elite and the raising to the prominence of local talent in all fields, and folk culture in particular, made him the hero of the hour.
But in 1970 his leadership was challenged by members of his own Cabinet who ousted him from the DLP. Running with his supporters under the banner of the Le Blanc Labour Party he comfortably won the 1970 general elections. By 1973 however, faced with protest demonstrations over another attempt at regional integration, this time with Guyana, and conflicts with the DFP, as well as with the Civil Service Association (SCA) supported by other trade unions, Le Blanc was becoming weary of leadership. In July 1974 he resigned and the position of Premier went to Patrick R. John. Le Blanc retired to his home at Vieille Case. At the early age of 53, embittered by what he saw as ingratitude and deceit around him and withdrew completely from public life.
La Plaine: (F) The main village on the south east coast. It sits on the wide gently sloping outflow of a major proclastic flow from volcanoes in the Grand Soufriere Hills behind the village that ends in cliffs along the coast. The Caribs knew the area as Koulirou and there were other Carib names such as Sari-Sari and Taboui (Taberi) that still exist. Remains of a pre-Columbian settlement are located between the Sari-Sari River and Case O'Gowery. The first French settlers called it La Plaine because of the wide area of unusually flat land on the steep and rugged Windward Coast. Because it faced the constant Trade Winds the area was known as Au Vent and the people who lived there as "gen au vent". The landing place for boats was the precarious Plaisance Bay and some cargo was shipped from the dangerous Bout Sable Bay. The main neighbouring estates were Quanari, Tabery, Felicite and Plaisance, although there were several smallholders in between. For a time the Roman Catholic church owned a large portion of La Plaine which it later subdivided. In 1893 the village was the scene of the land tax riots, when British marines and local police landed from the war ship HMS Mohawk and attempted to evict persons who had not paid their land tax. Four persons died in the ensuing resistance. Until 1963 access to Roseau was via canoe or mountain track by way of the "Chemin L'Etang" past the Freshwater Lake or a longer route by way of Delices. In 1963 the motorable road reached La Plaine amidst great celebration.
Laronde: (F) A community just south of La Plaine that gained its name from the French family who settled there in the early 1700's. Like many other early French settlers such as Darroux, Durand, Vidal, Laudat and Laurent families, the Larondes came from France via Martinique. They were small holders known in Martinique as "Petite Blancs". The big sugar planters were edging them out of their land as sugar took over from tobacco and cotton. Seeing Dominica across the channel, these small holders came over and made deals with the Caribs for land. They mixed with them and established themselves in Dominica.
Latanier: (F) (Coccothrinax martinicensis) Known in Carib as alatini. A rather small palm with a fan-shaped leaf that is limited to the lower coastal bluffs and cliffs of Dominica particularly in the extreme north of the island. The Caribs made bows from the wood of the Latinier. The leaves were used to cover houses and huts and are also fashioned into brooms. The centre of the unopened leaf is also split and woven before it becomes too dry, into baskets. This is used particularly in Penville where there are still a number of people of Carib descent. Here a special type of tablemat and basket is made using the rib or "cocoyer" of the Latinier wrapped tightly with the leaves.
Laurier: (F) There are several trees of the Laurel family, Lauracaea, that are used for woodworking. In Creole they are all prefixed with the word Laurier, as in Laurier de rose, Laurier pwev, and Laurier isabelle.
Loblack, Emmanuel, Christopher: (1898 1995) Trade unionist, legislator. Born at Grand Bay he became a mason and builder, eventually employed by the Public Works Department. In 1939, when the Moyne Commission was visiting Dominica to investigate conditions here, Loblack appeared before the Commission and with others, accompanied its members to view the slum areas of Roseau and made complaints about wage rates and the tenuous position of tenant farmers. One member, Lord Citrine, encouraged the setting up of a trade union, as he had done in other territories. It was not until the 1940's however, that Loblack with the assistance of Austin Winston and Ralph Nicholls, launched the Dominica Trade Union on 11 January 1945. The union grew rapidly, soon having 26 branches around the island. In 1949, Loblack represented Dominica in Britain at the International Confederation of Trade Unions. When Phyllis Shand Allfrey returned from England in 1953, she and Loblack worked together to found the Dominica Labour Party on 24 May 1955. By that time Loblack's hold on the DTU was weakening as new younger members became more active and he was expelled from the DTU in 1957. His role as a political activist for the DLP strengthened however, and he was rewarded with a nominated seat in the legislative council when the DLP won the 1961 general elections. The expulsion of Felix Allfrey from the DLP in September 1962 caused Loblack to fall out with the hierarchy of the DLP and he grew increasingly critical of the government. By 1968, Loblack and Allfrey joined with Eugenia Charles and others to found the Dominica Freedom Party and for the rest of his life Loblack was an outspoken supporter of the DFP. He received a meritorious service award from the State and a certificate of commendation from the University of the West Indies.
Laville: (F) A family of French origin who arrived here in the early 18th century via Martinique and settled in the areas of Atkinson, Toucari and Penville. Like other French settlers they mixed with the Caribs and Africans and established themselves as smallholders, growing mostly coffee. In the 20th century two Laville brothers from Atkinson became prominent in agriculture and politics. Frobel Laville emigrated to the Dutch Antilles, working on oil refineries. Returning to Dominica with his savings, he bought Londonderry and Woodford Hill from the owner, Mrs. M. Stebbings. He sold Woodford Hill to the banana company, Antilles Products, and subsequently bought Governor and Hatten Garden , thus becoming one of the most productive agriculturists on the island. When Elias Nassief started his coconut-processing factory at Belfast, Laville was with him from the start. Frobel was briefly in politics , but his main interest was agriculture. It was his brother Lionel, who represented the North East district in the Legislature. He became minister of Communications and Works after the ministerial system was introduced in 1956. Even before then he had teamed up with Elma Napier, another member of the Legislative Council, he was responsible for getting the Transingular Road built across the island. He also pioneered the production of pottery at Marigot.
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Marigot: (F) There are three bays along the north and east coasts, which were given this name by the French. There is a Marigot Bay on the coast near Wesley, another Grand Marigot, which is the bay of Saint Souveur, and the best known: Petite Marigot, now simply called Marigot with an English pronunciation. The name is used throughout the French-influenced Antilles indicating a bay with a small stream flowing into it. When the British took over Dominica they renamed the Petite Marigot, Halifax Bay, but this did not last and the name Marigot remained in use. A settlement developed around the lands of the English planter John Weir, an area of the modern village that is called Weirs today. After Dominica became one of the Leeward islands in 1832 a number of large English plantations in the district recruited labourers from Antigua and the Leeward Islands and many of them settled in the village bringing with them their Methodist and Anglican faith and their particular English Creole form of speech, which became known in Dominica as Kockoy. The bay was an important shipping place for the northeast and a jetty and crane existed for moving cargo. Since the 1770's a small fort had guarded the bay at Mantipo Point and a police station was built there in the 1910's. In the 1920's a cottage hospital was constructed on the opposite hillside to service the district covering the Carib Territory to Calibishie. By then, Marigot was the largest village in the north.
Mahaut: (C) A place name associated with types of trees, the bark of which was used for making rope. The best known is the west coast village of Mahaut in the parish of St. Paul, but there is also Savanne Mahaut near Delices, Ravine Mahaut at Petite Soufrière and Mahaut River in the Carib Territory. The Caribs grouped plants according to their uses and any plant with a bark capable of making rope was described as "maho". The French took the word and wrote it in their own way: "mahaut". Since there were no nails or wire or bolts, everything was tied together with maho. House posts, roofing thatch, hammocks, head straps for carrying load, for attaching things to canoes, anchor ropes, net ropes and for hauling, all depended on maho. As father Breton writes in his Carib Dictionary, "In short, I do not think they could exist without maho". In western scientific botany the Mahaut is found in divers plant families: Cordia (Boraginaceae), Pavonia and Hibiscus (Malvaceae), Triumfetat (Tiliceae) and Sterculia (Sterculiaceae).
Malgretout: (F) A name which was given to at least two estates, one in the heights of the Pointe Michel valley and another at the extreme north of the island near Penville. It came from the French phrase "In spite of all". Both estates are near the tops of mountains and the roads to them are steep, the trail up must have been hard, life may not have been easy and the name may indicate the owner's feelings that " In spite of everything I am here".
Macouba Bank: A fishing bank in the Martinique channel located to the south east of Dominica used extensively by Dominican fishermen. Geologically it is the remains of a volcanic massif that rises some 1000 meters from the ocean floor and may once have been above the surface. An upwelling of nutrients is driven onto the bank by the Atlantic current and this attracts a wide variety of fish. It is named after the village of Macouba on the north coast of Martinique. But since the 1950s the Martiniquans have called the bank Bien Dien Fu, after a battle in the Indo-China War (today Vietnam) where many Martiniquan conscripts served. The battle was supposedly as rough as the waters of Macouba. Disputes have arisen with French fishermen over the use of Macouba.
Malalia: (C) The former Carib name for Douglas Bay, north of the Cabrits, which was renamed by the British in honour of the Admiral, Sir James Douglas, who led the British naval squadron in the capture of Dominica from the French in 1761.
Mas': (E) An abbreviated form of Master, often used by estate workers and others of that social group as a prefix to the name of an estate owner or other person of importance, as in, Mas' Clem, Mas' Charlie, Mas' Howell. It was common up to the 1970s but is now generally out of use.
Mas': (F) An abbreviated form of Masquerade, the French and Creole term for Carnival. Used as in the phrases: "Couwi Mas", "Run Mas", "Jouway Mas", and "Play Mas".
Massacre: (F) The name of a village on the west coast in the parish of St.Paul just north of Canefield. Named by the French as the site of a massacre of Caribs carried out by the English in 1674. This was an attack on the settlement of Carib or "Indian" Warner, who was the son of Sir Thomas Warner and a Carib woman from Dominica. He had been brought up in his father's household in St.Kitts but left for Dominica after his father's death. He rose to be a chief in Dominica and attempted to keep the island for the Caribs in perpetuity. But his English half-brother, Phillip, plotted against him and led the attack from Antigua. Phillip reportedly invited the Caribs onto his ship and at the height of the party killed his brother as a signal for the massacre to commence.
Mantipo Stone: (E) A large stone in a sea pool in Marigot, which was used by the ancient Amerindians as a grinding stone for the making of stone axes. The depressions and indentations caused by this activity many hundreds of years ago can still be seen.
Masse: (F) A wooden mallet or club used in house building and pit sawing. This was when houses were built with wooden pegs and mortise and tenon joints and when pit sawyers had to hammer wedges between the boards that they were sawing. The French introduced this type of house building and so the mallet has a French name. But exactly the same instrument carried in canoes and used by fishermen to club large fish is called a "batu", which is a Carib word. This is because our main fishing implements and techniques originated with the Caribs.
Matapi: (C) A four-foot to six-foot long tube of woven larouma reed some six inches wide that was used by the Caribs for squeezing poisonous juice out of the freshly grated manioc in the preparation for making cassava farine. The French settlers called it a "coulevre". This was because the shape and diamond weave of the matapi reminded them of a type of snake skin in France called a "coulevre". Modern Caribs adopted the French name, which is most used today.
Mathieu Lake: Now perhaps the largest lake in Dominica created by the collapse of a cliff side into the D'leau Mathieu gorge in the Layou Valley in 1997. The huge natural dam appears to have settled, trees have established themselves upon it and the new lake is fed by fresh water of the D'leau Mathieu stream. It is probable that it has become permanent, at least for the next hundred years or so.
Moir-James, Mabel: (1917- ) Businesswoman, minister of Government. Mabel Moir-James worked with her husband in the drug store business before moving into politics as a member of the Dominica Labour Party. She successfully contested the general elections of 1966 as a member of the Western District. The DLP won with a landslide, and she was made minister of Communications and Works, becoming the first woman minister in the history of government in Dominica. (Phylis Shand Allfrey was earlier, (1958 -1962), but was a minister in the Federation of the West Indies). When Dominica attained Associated statehood with Britain in 1967, Mrs. James was made minister of Home Affairs. In 1970, she was one of three ministers along with N.A.N. Ducreay and W.S. Stevens, who revolted against the leadership of Premier Edward Leblanc and outsted him from the DLP. Leblanc turned around and fired the three from government and ran the 1970 general election under the name of the Leblanc Labour Party. Only W.S. Stevens won his seat and Mrs. James retired from politics.