Beautiful Land

In this section, find excerpts and links to The Gleaner's Special Series: Pieces Of The Past authored by Dr. Rebecca Tortello in 2003.  Where applicable, updated information can be found throughout the site.


The History Of Our Parishes  

In 1664, the Spanish relinquished control of Jamaica to the British and Sir Thomas Modyford divided this fair isle into 7 administrative units known as parishes. These were located mainly in the mid to south- eastern end of the island: Clarendon, St. John's, St. Andrew's, St. Katherine's, Port Royal, St. David's and St. Thomas in the East. Within 25 years, by 1683 the number of parishes had doubled totalling… (READ MORE)


Jamaica's Botanical Gardens  

When Queen Isabella of Spain asked Christopher Columbus to describe the island of Jamaica, the famed explorer is said to have struggled to find words to do its beauty justice. In attempting to describe Jamaica's terrain, Columbus is said to have resorted to fashioning hills and valleys out of table napkins as a way of explaining… (READ MORE)


Mutiny On The Bounty + The Arrival Of The Breadfruit  

From as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, there had been talk of a tree in the Pacific Islands that provided a source of 'bread' all year round. The planters offered large rewards to any captain who would bring back such a miraculous plant… (READ MORE)


Colourful Characters: Jamaican Birds

In Jamaica, many birds, like the Doctor Bird, are endowed with spiritual significance. Many, like the owl, are considered symbols of the dead as well as messengers between spirit worlds. The Tainos, the first Jamaicans, who used bird feathers in ceremonial headdress and body decorations, called the doctor bird the 'God' bird, because they considered it to be the reincarnation of dead souls. Jamaica's national bird, and a species of hummingbird, is only found in Jamaica… (READ MORE)


Place Names: A Window To Jamaica's History And Character

From Above Rocks in St. Catherine, to Zuassure Hill, Manchester, Jamaica has an intriguing mixture of place-names that reflect its history and character. The island's name itself is believed to pay homage to a particular historical period  … (READ MORE)