A Day In The Life Of

A Day In The Life Of Ste. Madeline

A Day In The Life Of Ste. Madeline

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The History of Ste. Madeline

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear Ste Madeleine is sugar and that’s because it was once home to the largest sugar-refining centre in the British colonies.

It’s a little village in Trinidad in Country Victoria and is within easy reach of San Fernando on the west and Princes Town on the east.

As stated in Michael Anthony’s book ‘Town and Villages of Trinidad and Tobago’, Ste Madeleine is on the Cipero River which was one of the largest factors in its early growth.

The estate itself was owned by Marie Madeleine but conditions of the roads were horrible and even became impassable in the rainy season.

She of course had the advantage of the Cipero River, which was much bigger in the 18th century, to transport sugar and molasses to the seaside.

Success of the Ste Madeleine estate came about when the Colonial Company, which owned other surrounding estates, acquired it in 1872.

That same year, they built a sugar factory or Usine, hence the name Usine Ste Madeleine, and began producing sugar.

By the year 1877, Usine Ste Madeleine became the most efficient in production and supply and there was great demand for sugar and trade.

The makeshift wharf or embarcadere at the mouth of the Cipero River was still being used, but then came the Cipero Tramway, which brought sugar down to the San Fernando Wharf.

The Ste Madeleine sugar was popular because it was the first time in Trinidad it was being manufactured in grain – the top grade was its golden grain sugar which was sold at nine cents a pound.

The prosperity though saw workers continuously striking for more pay as the company kept resisting and workers clashed with officials and police.

Most of the indentured labourers were let go around 1880 and replaced by sugar-cane workers from Barbados – now that explains the Barbadian accent by many of the villagers in Ste Madeleine today.

Unfortunately, the prosperity of the sugar industry there is no more while the Cipero River is seen as nothing more than an insignificant waterway.

The Ste Madeleine community is one that comprises of mixed races and agriculture continues to be a livelihood for some, but on a small scale.

This has led to the development of small businesses, but there is still a lot of unemployment in the area.

With regards to culture and heritage, that is one aspect of Ste Madeleine that remains strong, in that villagers come together for celebrations like Indian Arrival Day.

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May 9th, 2017

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