By Ken Roueche
PORTLAND: THE OTHER JAMAICA offers a glimpse into the history of this most beautiful parish, stretching from Buff Bay to Hector's River and up the many river valleys to the Blue Mountains. Portland has been home to some remarkable people, including more than a few dreamers, schemers and crusaders. Shaped by the heavy hand of Mother Nature Portland is blessed with outstanding beauty and challenged by remarkable geography, which provided a perfect homeland for the Windward Maroons as they fled the terror of colonial oppression under the spiritual leadership Nanny. The 1739 Maroon Treaty was followed by the invasion of British planters with their toxic mix of slavery, violence and sugar.
The end of slavery opened up abandoned plantations and mountain villages to modest opportunities for liberated slaves. Within a generation their sons and daughters were enterprising banana farmers responding to the call from Captain Baker to grow banana for the world. Portland soon became the "Banana Capital of the World". This was followed by the arrival of the railway which spurred even more banana production and helped launch the tourist industry and the building of the Titchfield Hotel.
Many of the world's major events have shaped Portland's history, including Port Antonio's strategic location during the Spanish American War and the loss of so many young men during the Great War. The Parish has also been blessed with great leaders including Captain Quao, Ken Jones, Sir Harold Allan and many others. In recent years Portland has also attracted the attention of Hollywood stars, starting with Errol Flynn and followed by Queens, Princes, Princesses, Barons, Captains of Industry and more movie stars. And today the dreamers and schemers are still coming to Portland.