Story & Photos by Stan Bishop
Among the many communities that make up Saint Lucia’s collective beauty and richness is Choiseul, located in the island’s southwestern region. Originally known as Anse Citron, the parish was established in 1765.
In 1846, an Anglican church was built at River Dorée one of Choiseul’s many communities, and the first school was opened in 1848. Run primarily by English plantation owners, the population hovered around 4,000 by the end of the 19th century, with a Catholic church built in the village by 1914.
Today, Choiseul is a progressive community, well-known for its industry and breathtaking scenery.
Bryan Charles, Chairperson of the Choiseul/Saltibus Constituency Council, was born and raised in Choiseul and has lived there all his life. Now into his fourth year as Chairperson Council, he’s been a member of what was then called the Choiseul Village Council since his teens. A community activist, he served as Member of Parliament for Choiseul from 1982 to 1987.
“If you go to any community in Saint Lucia, you will find Choiseulians living there,” he told me. “Even in Castries these days, majority of the folks you will find there have roots in Choiseul. Choiseul’s people are spread across the island, which is among its greatest attributes.”
The word ‘Choiseul’ comes from the English word, ‘chosen’, and Choiseulians have traditionally chosen a very indigenous and industrious path. It’s the undisputed craft capital of Saint Lucia, producing the most indigenous craft items: pottery, baskets, canoes, to name a few. Choiseulians are a hardworking people, Charles noted.
“I love the fact that we have used our traditional strengths to move up the socio-economic ladder,” he said. “Since being established in the 1960s, our first credit union has been a phenomenal pillar in our community and has created a major change in the economic development of Choiseul.”
Choiseul is among the villages that are most advanced in the local fishing industry, with many of its fishermen living and working elsewhere on the island. While farming, fishing and craft-making forming the basic lifestyle of Choiseulians, the community performs outstandingly in sports and other areas. In fact, the Choiseul Craft Masters, sponsored by the Choiseul Co-operative Credit Union, won the Saint Lucia Premier League (SPL) cricket tournament last year.
The scenic village of Choiseul offers accommodation properties from Private Villas to Airbnb. Many Choiseulians are employed within the island’s hospitality sector.