Year 7 Explore TCI’s Salt Industry history

Our Year 7 students set out to explore the TCI’s history this week with a trip to Grand Turk and Salt Cay. What better way to bring the Turks and Caicos Salt Industry to life than with a visit to the salinas of two of our nation’s salt islands?!

15 excited students set off from Provo airport for two days packed with first-hand experiences linked to the period of salt production, which spanned nearly 300 years.

After flights and a boat ride, the 5 hours spent on Salt Cay couldn’t have been more packed! Children were treated to a guided tour from the Deputy D.C. of Salt Cay, Mr Hamilton, and were fortunate to have his insight and knowledge to guide us throughout the day. His technical knowledge of the canal systems and how the industry operated was invaluable to our understanding of the process of salt production. More importantly, his passion for the island was infectious and we couldn’t help but learn form his wonderful stories. Under his guidance, we took a walking tour of the salt ponds and saw real examples of all the things we had been learning about in class.

Our class also crossed paths with the Principal/teacher, Lourissia Simmons and students of the school on Salt Cay. We were pleased to hear about their hopes to move in to a new building after their old one was damaged by Hurricane Irma last year. This is a project that our Year 7 students look forward to assisting with in the new year.

As we moved into the middle of the island, the children were treated to a guided tour of the White House. Tim Dunn, a sixth generation owner of the property that formed a central part of the salt industry, was an incredible guide with information on everything salt-related! Children came into contact with artifacts that dated back hundreds of years, making the incredible scale of the salt production easier to imagine. The vast cellar of the White House (used to protect some of the raked salt from rain) was, in itself, a jaw-dropping sight when trying to imagine what Salt Cay’s rakers were capable of.

At lunch, students were treated to some island delicacies at Pat’s Place, and heard a talk from Patricia Simmonds about the island’s history as well as her own recollections. The end of the salt industry is still within living memory, and Ms Pat shared her perspective on seeing the population of the island decline from hundreds of people to only 60 today.

Finally, we called into see Ms Cynthia who operates Salt Cay Salt Works – a home industry that produces culinary and bath salts using the salt still produced on the island. We are excited to have agreed to sell their products at our “Celebration of TCI Salt” stall at the upcoming Provo Arts Fair in December.

At the end of our first day, we ‘enjoyed’ a very rough ferry ride home to Grand Turk. Children have spent the evening relaxing on the beach, searching for sea glass and enjoying a delicious evening meal.

As children awoke on our second day, we again enjoyed the hospitality of The Osprey Hotel for a fresh breakfast, before setting off for a walk up Grand Turk’s historic Front Street. Homes along this road date back to the 1830s and still stand as a testament to the ‘Golden Age’ of the salt industry. By looking at the architecture and size of the homes, it was easy for children to imagine the wealth and success of the period, as well as the influence of Bermuda at the time.

Our morning stroll took us to the TCI National Museum, where we enjoyed a tour of the various artifacts relating to the salt industry as well as the other wonderful discoveries from across the islands. Unbelievably, the TCI’s salt workers exported over 2.3 million bushels of salt in the early 1890s – that’s more than 58 million kilograms, all shipped out in small boats to the awaiting ships in the island’s deep waters!

Children also encountered amazing facts relating to European Explorers, Lucayan settlements, slavery and freedom and the Space Race! It was exciting to see children connect each display with history learning from their Primary School years!

Finally, as our trip drew to an end, we took time to visit the Friendship 7 display at the Cruise Port before heading up to the lighthouse for a look out at the north shore and North Creek.

15 happy, inspired and tired students climbed back onto the plane home, ready to build on their learning next half term. We can’t wait to share it with you!

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