A lot of history has been made in Belize City. On almost every street corner there is a reminder of the City as it was in the days of a bustling colony, and a thriving marketplace. From the old Government House, now the House of Culture, one can see St. John’s Cathedral and Yarborough Cemetery to the west and to the east, across the harbor, Baron Bliss Grave and Lighthouse, and beyond that the Memorial Park. History is everywhere and on Wednesday, noted author and historian Lawrence Vernon in conjunction with the Belize Tourism Board and Institute for Social and Cultural Research, ISCR, invited students and keepers of Belize City’s historical flame to take “A Walk through Old Belize.”
Lawrence Vernon – Author and Historian:
As a librarian I am always pleased when a book dealing with some aspect of Belize is produced and especially so in this instance when I am telling you as the writer. This book, A Walk through Old Belize, will add a significant dimension to our national literature. Actually our city landmarks include sites, buildings and structures which are recognized as important to the history of Belize. As such, the project top produce this book involved collecting data, highlight landmarks which will benefit our tour guides, our taxi drivers, our horse and buggy drivers, students and of course our general public. As indicated in the book’s introduction, there may be many more places of interests that need more elaborating in order to appreciate the historical significance. Fortunately personnel from the B.T.B. and the ISCR therefore have plans in place to research and map out sections of Belize City to develop what will be called the Belize City Everyday Trade. Although the work contains descriptions of some thirty-seven sites, we realize that there are more that have not been covered. In this regard, we urge readers and users to suggest other landmarks that we might not be aware of which in due course can be included in a second edition.
According to ISCR director Nigel Encalada, the NEW book is the physical product of many years of work, both by previous historians and by Government officials.
Nigel Encalada – Writer:
Speaking about the book, Mr. Lawrence Vernon, at least a year and a half now, began the work along with some of our ISCR staff to compile information regarding historic landmarks in Belize City. It was actually the brain child of Juliet Neal from BTB, and so what it involved was a much larger project, where we would research and identify landmarks in downtown Belize City, to create a tourism trail of historical marks and so the book was the result of that. We did field work, we did archival work, we did interviews and we put together a product that could be used for tourists, tour guides, for teachers, students, and we think it’s handy; people can now go on tours around Belize City and have something that they can reference, things they may not know about Belize and the landmarks that we walk pass everyday, so it’s a sort of educational tool and to promote the history and heritage of Belize City in particular.”
As a writer, I am proud that I was able to contribute towards another local publication, and on the history of Belize.
We want to ask many of the book stores to put it on their shelves. We want to put it, for example, in the tourist village, and many of the well known book centers in Belize, but in particular, we want to get it into schools, so that teachers can have it as a teaching resource so that the learning can take place outside of the classroom.
Nigel Encalada also told PLUS News that work is ongoing to preserve many of these historic sites and buildings.
There will be signage to identify these sites. In the pipeline there is what is called “Historic Trust” legislation that’s being brainstormed and worked on, as an effort to identify and demarcate historic landmarks within the city. I think the objective is to identify all of downtown Belize City as an historic district. That is the concept behind it. They’re doing the research, getting the publications ready, so that when that time comes there is enough justification.
The book is now available for $25 at local bookstores.
The book is co-authored by NICH and BTB, who plan to release 2 more in the series called, “A Walk Through El Cayo”, and “A Walk through Old Benque”.