The History of Matelot/Grande Riviere
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The History of Matelot/Grande Riviere

The History of Matelot/Grande Riviere

Two the northern most areas of Trinidad are Matelot and Grande Riviere.

Matelot was thought to have been named by the British in 1868 – it is French for sailor.

In the early days of development, the village’s economy was fuelled by cocoa production until around 1920 when prices collapsed forcing many farmers into bankruptcy.

Looking at education, the first Boys’ and Girls’ Catholic Primary School was constructed in 1989 with enrolment of 55 students the following year.

Matelot today, while still a remote part of Trinidad, has become known fishing village.

As if to underline the remoteness of the area, it was marooned from the rest of the country in 2015 after severe flooding – a similar incident happened in 2016 when the whole area lost electricity and water.

Further east is the community of Gran Riviere, now known as a hub for turtle watching enthusiasts.

Their history is quite similar to that of Matelot – It was originally settled by immigrants from Venezuela in the 1860s.

They thrived in cocoa production with the 650-acre Grande Riviere estate being the major employer in the area.

This bloomed until price declines in around 1920.

Following this, agriculture took over through crops, fishing and hunting.

Ecotourism, thanks to the nesting of the leatherback turtles helped revive interest in the community.

According to the Turtle Village Trust, each year, close to 15,000 tourists, both foreign and local, visit the area’s beach.

Today, due to the nesting activity, the beach itself is protected so permits are required from the Forestry Division.

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May 31st, 2017

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