Castara History

History of Castara Tobago

Like all of the coastal and valley districts of Tobago, Castara was named and occupied by indigenous Amerindians. "Castara" means 'falling waters" which prevails along the hillside.

In the 17th century English Puritan colonists called it Charles Bay, and the Dutch; Kalpi Bay.

However when the British took over the island and auctioned estates in 1768, 1769, 1770 they kept the name Castara under sugar cultivation with enslaved African labour until 1834-38 when 328 slaves were emancipated.

Sugar cultivation continued up to 1887 when cocoa was introduced and a number of small farmers and fishermen evolved. Before the Northside Road was built from Mt Dillon to Castara 1960-1970, the main thoroughfare from north to south was from Castara to Mt. St George where people walked or sailed by rum boats or coastal steamer, to Plymouth and Scarborough or attended wakes or weddings in other districts.

For a long time the people of Castara were self sufficient farmers and fishermen who made their wooden boats, fish pots and knitted seines. They dried and corned fish and produced their own meat from fowls, goats, sheep, cattle and hunted wild meat. Families produced their own food from ground provision and sugar ground by the batty mill. Oil was produced by grated coconuts and the graters were handmade, strainers were made from coconut bark fiber. Rainwater was caught in barrels for drinking and cooking and clothes were washed at rivers, springs and waterfalls, and the clothes were scrubbed on a 'jukking' board.

Farine was made from grated cassava and baked on a copper which was also used for boiling wet sugar. Rope and twine for animals, boats, seine, skipping, tying of bags, pulling of logs and other uses were made from screw pine, sisal-mother in laws tongue and cousin mahoe. Lumber was swan from logs in a sawpit and used for building houses, furniture, coffins, boats, box carts, toys, mortars and pestles.

Wheat flour bread and cakes were baked in a dirt oven at special times in the year for the whole village as it is today. Most homes made their roast bakes in an iron pot or tin oven with coals at the top and below, over a coal pot which was also used for the heating of flat irons for pressing clothes.

Drinking water was stored in an earthenware goblet and in a calabash bowlie for going to the woods, garden or sea. A calabash dipper was used to pour water from the rain water barrel, and calabash bowls were used for eating and drinking. They were also used for storing dried peas and corn.

For leisure and pleasure, toys were homemade, tops, kites, skipping ropes, coconut bat and bamboo root balls, draught boards and knobs, boabeen trolleys, toy carts, trucks and dolls.

Other homemade articles included coconut fiber and straw mattresses, boisflot pillows, straw mats and bags, handmade clothes, slippers and shoes, suits, pillow cases and curtains.

Most utilities were homemade by people with special skills: shopping baskets, cocoa baskets, fish baskets, donkey crook and panier, wood trays, lay lay sticks, swizzle sticks, zaghaie and crook sticks, tin cups, milk pans, baking pans, tin mugs, handles for tools, mattock, pickaxe, hoe, gullet, cutlass and cagwood stick.

For a long period of time the Wesleyan Missionary in Castara served as church and school, providing extracurricular services in music, literature and domestic science with head teachers playing a pivotal role in social guidance, letter writing and reading and the settling of disputes.

The British have left the ruins of two water wheel sugar factories, and the ruins of a one gun/cannon battery on the east point of Castara Bay.

There is a burial site of Amerindians beneath the soak away of the beach facilities, discovered in 1995. Or Amerindian ancestors have given us the canoe, pirogue, hammock, dirt oven, calabash, cassava, sweet potatoes, tobacco, sapodilla, cedar, cypre, bois canot/trumpet tree. Bois flot, guava and many other plants, herbs, animals and fishes.

On May 23rd 2009 UNESCO officials met with the Castara Awards Committee and other interest groups in Castara to commission the Amerinidian Village which will be consisting of the Museum and Slave house along with other atifacts (see picture below)