Archiver > CARIBBEAN > 2001-04 > 0986323278

From: "Trev Sue-A-Quan" <>
Subject: Re: Demerara River Island Name
Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2001 18:41:18 GMT
References: <001201c0bbbf$c7b13140$>

I have found it fascinating to see the various responses to the inquiry
about the island of Demorara. I thought it unnecessary for me to join the
discussion under the impression that an informed response would quickly
appear and anyway I have no claim for being an expert. I have found it
disappointing that the Guyanese who have read the posting have not
responded, or maybe, as another lister suggested, the interest in Guyanese
genealogy is not strong. So far the responders' closest contact to Guyanese
seems to be friends, neighbors and spouses. All yuh Guyanese, wey yuh hidin?

I think there is general agreement that Demorara should really be spelt
Demerara and it refers to the county of Demerara, which along with Berbice
and Essequibo counties, make up the country of Guyana (formerly British
Guiana) on the mainland of South America. The concept of it being an island
may have come about because the place was once a colony of France, Holland
and finally Britain and thus associated with the other places where these
powers were dominant - in the Caribbean islands. British Guiana became the
only English-speaking territory in the predominantly Spanish-speaking
continent of South America but is generally regarded as part of the West
Indies (although several genealogical websites do have different opinions,
or difficulties, regarding where to classify it). Demerara was the location
of the seat of local govermnent - at Georgetown (whch used to be called
Longchamps when it was a French possession, and Stabroek when under Dutch
rule). Historically, the three counties were not formally united for a while
so that Demerara, being the location for the capital and main port, did
become a name that really referred to British Guiana as a whole. This has
contributed to the continued use of the title Demerara in reference to
sugar and rum, among other things.

The three counties were named after the main rivers in Guyana and in the
mouth of the Essequibo River, which is some 15 miles wide where it meets the
Atlantic Ocean, there are more than 20 islands of various sizes. The three
largest are Wakenaam Island,, Leguan Island (where my grandfather was born)
and Hog Island and they had several sugar plantations on them. The islands
fit comfortably in the Essequibo River and the big ones are about 12 miles
long and 5 miles wide, although they are all tapered in shape so that the
area would be much less that 60 square miles each. I am aware that Guyanese
have the tendency to brag about having the biggest size and that some of the
Caribbean islands could fit into the Essequibo River and this may have led
to the notion that the existing islands in the Essequibo River are larger
than some West Indian ones, but obviously they would be up the creek if they
continue to push much further. None of these islands carry the name
Demerara or anything close in pronunciation (Dukalaba Island being the

On another matter, I had posted a question more than a year ago concerning
a beverage known as "fly" which I found in an 1873 account of festivities
arranged for the workers on a sugar plantation. My thanks to those of you
who ventured a guess about what it was. It turns out to be a brew based on
sweet potatoes, with other flavorings including lime, and the fermentation
of the bottled drink would cause the cork to fly off. Local champagne,

Please visit the website Chinese in Guyana: Their Roots

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