35-foot long canoe arrives in Bequia
November 22, 2013
35-foot long canoe arrives in Bequia

A replica of an ancient dug-out canoe, purchased by the Bequia Heritage Foundation (BHF), arrived at Admiralty Bay, Bequia, last week, onboard a French Navy frigate.{{more}}

The BHF purchased the canoe for their collection, but had never figured out a way to get the 35-foot vessel, which is powered by paddle alone, the few hundred miles from Martinique to Bequia to take its place in the new Bequia Boat Museum at Friendship Bay.

On Thursday, November 14, the replica, similar to the type of canoe used hundreds of years ago by this country’s first inhabitants, arrived in Bequia to join the double-ended cedar-ribbed sailing boats like the whaleboat Dart, the blackfish boat Faith, and the two-bowed Bequia dinghy, which display the Grenadine island’s more recent history at the boat museum.

Louise Mitchell Joseph, one of the trustees of the BHF, had explained the difficulty to Francois Truchot, honorary French consul to St Vincent and the Grenadines, who suggested calling on the French Navy for assistance. The National Trust and the Alliance Francaise worked together, and, amazingly, made this happen.

In speeches under the almond tree, Herman Belmar, chairperson of the BHF, welcomed the French Ambassador-designate to the OECS Eric La Moussaye, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines Camillo Gonsalves as well as Sir James Mitchell, former Prime Minister, the representative of the Northern Grenadines Dr Godwin Friday, and the Commander of the French Navy ship. Gonsalves, in his maiden speech in Bequia, pointed out the importance of the Amerindians in the country’s history, noting that it is understood that they used canoes such as this one to rescue slaves who were shipwrecked off Bequia. He urged all Vincentians to visit the new museum.

The canoe was taken by trailer to the museum site on the other side of the island. At the reception which followed, visitors were able to view artifacts of Bequia boat-building and whaling which are mounted on the wall with explanatory signs. Pat Mitchell, secretary of the Bequia Heritage Museum, thanked persons of the private sector who funded the attractive museum building with its stunning views over Friendship Bay and the Grenadines. She assured everyone that she is ready to add to the posted list of donors, at any time, as there is still much to be done to make the museum viable. The BHF believes that the Boat Museum will prove interesting and educational for all the citizens of this country, and for the many visitors who come to vacation on the island.