July 08, 2006
Posted: July 14, 2006
Guayaguayare, the first part of Trinidad and Tobago to have experienced the beginning of a new colonial era with the entry of Christopher Columbus on July 31, 1498, is ironically the last village of the twin-island state. It is situated at the southern end of the county of Mayaro and is the southeastern most part of the island of Trinidad.
Guayaguayare was first inhabited by the Amerindians who had become extinct in this region by the time the French had arrived in the 1780's. They are the people responsible for the name of the area and this name survival is one of their last remaining legacies in the country.
Galeota Point, the last jot of land on the southeastern peninsula holds a very meaningful place in Trinidad and Tobago's socio-economic history. It is home to a significant portion of Trinidad and Tobago's gas and oil reserves and it is frequented by wildlife, especially a variety of bird species on migratory routes across the Caribbean. It was originally referred to as ‘Punta de Galera' but was changed to its current name, Galeota Point during the British takeover by the Captain of the Royal Surveying Engineers, Frederick Mallet, in 1797. This area has been victim to coastal erosion for centuries and is probably less than half the size it was in the 1790's. Thus, by the 1900's, villagers began the laborious process of carrying back their houses to avoid engulfment by the sea.
During Senior Don Jose Maria Chacon's tenure as Govenor in 1797, he granted land along the entire Guayaguayare strip to some French settlers who had procured up to seventy-four cotton plantations. Agriculturalists had also experimented with cocoa, coffee and sugar which were later supplanted by coconut plantations which became the prime agricultural export product out of that area from the 19th century onwards.
To encourage the development of this isolated and largely underdeveloped part of the island, the warding system was introduced in 1849. However, Guayaguayare Ward did not include the village of Guayaguayare but included the Mayaro village. Instead, the Guayaguayare village and the surrounding forests made up the Trinity Ward.
In 1870, oil was discovered by a huntsman in the Guayaguayare forest and a report on the finding went to London, but nothing became of this until 1893 when a Canadian merchant, Randolph Rust, with the backing of the Oil Exploration Syndicate of Canada took advantage of the findings in 1901. Oil was first struck from the ground in 1902 on the banks of the Pilot River and became the most important industry in the country. Today, however, oil previously found on land has depleted considerably and offshore oil operations are the more popular trend, although land explorations have far from ceased.
Although Guayaguayare remains a sparsely populated village, it is still busy with activities such as fishing, oil exploitation and exploration, and coconut production. It remains one of the most beautiful areas of Trinidad and Tobago and continues to attract tourist and business prospects from all over the world.
Guayaguayare in Pictures
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