An Amazing Weekend in Nassau

Finally, a few minutes to write about last weekend! As some of you know, last Saturday was my book signing at Logos Bookstore in Nassau. Huge thanks to Logos’ owner Ricardo Munroe and his staff for being so welcoming.

From one author to another… me with Bahamian meteorologist and author, Wayne Neely. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Neely.)

Logos has long been my favourite Bahamian bookstore. For years, every trip to Nassau has included at least one visit to Logos to check out what’s new in their Bahamian history section (and, I’ll admit, to imagine what it would be like to have my own books displayed there.) Thanks to Ricardo for helping me make that dream a reality.

And thank you to everyone who came out for the signing, which was a terrific success.

It was wonderful to see so many old friends – including a few I hadn’t seen in decades – and to meet some new ones. I also discovered a few new relatives!

Two of my favourite Bahamian authors – Rosemary Hanna and Wayne Neely – also stopped by to say hello.

In addition to being a meteorologist, Wayne is the author of a series of books about the most devastating hurricanes to hit the Bahamas.

His books, which draw on first-hand accounts as well as his professional expertise, include The Great Bahamas Hurricane of 1866The Greatest and Deadliest Hurricanes of the Caribbean and the Americas, and  The Great Bahamian Hurricanes of 1899 and 1932. They make for fascinating reading, and the latter was instrumental to me in conducting research for my own book. Continue reading

Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival Wins Cacique Award

Congratulations to Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival organizing committee, who were recognized with a Cacique Award in Nassau April 8.

Congratulations to the organizing committee of Green Turtle Cay's Island Roots Heritage Festival on winning a Cacique Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations who contribute towards the Bahamian tourist industry. (Photo by Ruth Saunders.)

Annabelle Roberts Cross (left) and Trina Cooper of the Island Roots Heritage Festival with their Cacique Award. (Photo: Ruth Saunders)

The Cacique Awards recognize individuals and organizations who positively impact the Bahamian tourism industry. The award was accepted by current festival committee chairperson, Annabelle Roberts Cross. Continue reading

Green Turtle Cay Junkanoo 2017

I had to fly overnight New Year’s Eve to do it, but I made it to Green Turtle Cay in time for the New Year’s Day Junkanoo! Because January 1 fell on a Sunday, the parade was held on Monday, January 2.

Green Turtle Cay Junkanoo - New Year's 2017

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James Mastin: Champion of Bahamian Culture

Bahamians lost a true champion of their national history and culture with the passing of James (“Jim”) Mastin in Miami, Florida this past Sunday.

Champion of Bahamian Culture, James Mastin, has Passed Away

James “Jim” Mastin

Jim was a classically trained artist, sculptor, singer and actor whose decades-long relationship with the Bahamas resulted from a chance meeting with Bahamian artist Alton Lowe in Miami in 1975.

With their shared interests in art and history, the two became fast friends and remained so for more than four decades.

In 1976, Jim assisted Alton in establishing Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum. The following year, he sang with the late Kayla Lockhart Edwards and the Bahamas Police Band at Island Roots Heritage Festivals held in Green Turtle Cay and Key West, celebrating the common roots of these sister cities. Continue reading

Sale of Custom Heritage Quilt to Benefit GTC’s Albert Lowe Museum

Wild horses. Candy-striped lighthouses. Sailing dinghies. Curly-tailed lizards. What do they have in common? All are iconic elements of Abaco history. And all, along with fourteen other emblems of Abaco’s past and present, are featured on a colourful, quilted wall hanging created to benefit the Albert Lowe Museum.

Sale of Custom Heritage Quilt to Benefit the Albert Lowe Museum

The Green Turtle Cay Quilting Group: Elizabeth Allen (top left), Ami Rutledge (bottom left), Susan Bassendale (top right) and Mandy Roberts (bottom right)

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Wreckers, Rogues and Rebels: Our Adventurous Abaco Ancestors

I always look forward to Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, but this year, I’m even more excited than usual.

13010848_10153753541368500_8267926738831053579_nFirst, I love the theme: Adventure, Enterprise and Infamy. Given the cay’s quaint and relatively conservative atmosphere, it’s hard to believe that some of our Abaconian ancestors were pirates. Many were wreckers. Others made illicit fortunes as blockade runners and bootleggers. I’m really looking forward to exploring the more adventurous (and, in some cases, infamous) sides of our Abaco forefathers.

Speaking of forefathers, if you’d like to know more about yours, the Genealogy Research Center (across from the Gospel Chapel) will be open throughout the festival. It’s a cool, quiet place to research your own Abaco ancestry and get to know some of the Bahamas’ best genealogists.

And, as always, the weekend will be full of Bahamian cuisine, crafts and entertainment, including performances by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force Marching Band, Julien Believe, Green Turtle Cay’s own Gully Roosters, the Sax Man, Sawyerboy and the New Entry Band. And of course, two of my favourites – the plaiting of the Maypole and Junkanoo.

Beyond all this, however, there’s another reason I’m excited about this year’s festival — for the first time, I’ll be giving a presentation as part of the festival lecture series.

Dr. Peter Roberts, of the Bahamas DNA Project, at the Island Roots Heritage Festival, Abaco, Bahamas.

Peter Roberts, of the Bahamas DNA Project, during his presentation at the Island Roots Heritage Festival.

Having attended lectures about Bahamian history, local conservation efforts and genealogy at past Island Roots Heritage Festivals, I’ve found them all to be interesting, entertaining and informative. The lectures are one of my favourite parts of the festival, which is why I’m so excited to be able to present one!

Entitled “Our Wrecking Ancestors: Scoundrels or Saviours?” my presentation takes place at 3:00 pm on Saturday, May 7, at the Catechist George Reckley Hall at St. Peter’s Church, across from Settlement Point.

In conducting research for the book about GTC history on which I’m currently working, I’ve developed a fascination with wrecking — arguably Green Turtle Cay’s first real industry. While some viewed wreckers as saviours, providing life-saving aid to the crews of foundering vessels, many saw them as little more than glorified pirates.

Either way, there’s no denying the vital role that wrecking played in establishing and shaping New Plymouth and other Abaco settlements. As part of my presentation, I’ll share some of the interesting tales — some amusing, others terrifying — I’ve uncovered about wrecking in Abaco.

Other lecturers scheduled for the 2016 festival series include:

  • Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project, will teach us how to use DNA and WikiTree to trace our Bahamian ancestry. (I attended Peter’s presentation on this topic at last year’s festival, and found it to be extremely helpful with my genealogical pursuits)
  • Shane Cash, history teacher at Forest Heights Academy, will provide an overview of the history of piracy, wrecking, blockade running and bootlegging in the Bahamas.

And for the full schedule of events for the 2016 Island Roots Heritage Festival weekend, click HERE.

Hope to see you there!

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GTC 101: Playing Here (Arts & Culture)

This is the eighth post in the series Green Turtle Cay 101: Guide to Getting Here, Staying Here, Dining Here and Playing Here.

When most folks think of Green Turtle Cay, they envision pristine beaches, clear waters and warm, tropical breezes. And certainly, the island has these in abundance. But it also boasts a surprisingly rich cultural life.

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