Caribbean Canary

Caribbean Canary is organised into modules, starting with the introduction. 

The second module, Tiger Parents outlines novel progress pursued by newly free Caribbean people from the nineteenth, and into the twentieth centuries.

The following timeline sketches that progression in Trinidad and Tobago.

A century of parent pressure for schools

Module II

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Pressure for Schooling

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Caribbean Canary

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What it meant to work in a coalmine

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Introduction of canary birds brought new meaning to life in the mines

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About the teacher

Horace Scobie
My interest in health care started with my grandmother, Florence Scobie. Age and experience qualified her as the most knowledgeable family member on such matters. And she was usually nearby, to advise on how to avoid undue  pain.   
  • Midwives were the next closest persons with what may be described as a distinct regard for life. My father insisted one luxury. He refused to leave my mother at a hospital, choosing instead to have a midwife in attendance at each birth. 
  • Through my father came the mindset of  the midwives. He refused to surrender the runt of his litter to ill health. So whenever necessary, he used hot and cold water fomentations to relieve me of asthma attacks. I never liked having to sit with my feet in hot water. But I saw he was following instructions in his doctor book.  
  • In turn, I decided to read about hydrotherapy. And of course, I discovered much more in the illustrated medical book I had to take care to study when he was not at home. 
Others propelled me to assemble ideas addressed in Caribbean Canary.  
  • “Cousin Darkie” was most influential.  In her crisp beige uniform, she often stopped at our home when driving into the countryside, to visit remote places and people. She was the county public health nurse.
  • “Cousin Islyn” was regularly in touch with mother during her study and work in England. Occasionally, she returned home on holiday, but always returned to England.
  • Helen Providence returned home permanently, to work at the new hospital near our home. Months later, an accident almost disabled my father. For Nurse Providence, it revived memories of her own father who died seven years earlier, for lack of care.
  • “Cousin George” returned to Tobago, to retire. He also had studied and spent his best years abroad. Now, he found himself worn out from overwork raising the standard of metropolitan health care. 
  • The ultimate driver for this course, however, is an untiring critic and - at the same time - an unflagging supporter. A Medical School graduate (University of the West Indies, 1972), my wife is a retired epidemiologist who temporarily resumed her career during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, she bears no responsibility for whatever is asserted here.
My fascination with the doctor book, and the link between health care at home and health care abroad peaked in research at places as diverse as the Spanish Town Archives, Jamaica, Seventh-day Adventist Archives at Takoma Park, Maryland and the British and Foreign School Society Archives at Brunel University, West London.  
  • I’m now at the age my grandmother was when I first visited her at Moriah, Tobago. And though my experience is very different from hers, her influence persists. It commits me to share with you ideas absorbed from her.
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