Question by Leightermath: Canals on Grand Bahama Island.?
Does anyone have any first or second-hand (parents, maybe?) knowledge or experiences about the building of the canal system on Grand Bahama Island in the 40,’s or 50’s?
Answer by J B
This was all I could find about the Island during that time.
In 1955, Grand Bahama was one of least developed of The Islands of The Bahamas, a place where a few hundred people made their living off of the sea. No one could have imagined then that the island would become the quintessential tropical playground.
No one except a man named Wallace Groves. Groves was an American financier from the state of Virginia and was keen to the possibilities of the island as a tourist destination. Less than a hundred miles away was the United States and its thriving post-war economy.
So, in 1955 he approached the Bahamian government with his idea to build a town that catered to both industry and tourists. Shortly after, a famous document known as the Hawksbill Creek Agreement was signed, and Freeport was born.
To encourage investment, it also freed the Port Authority from paying taxes on income, capital gains, real estate and private property until 1985 – a provision that has since been extended to the year 2054. Soon after the Agreement was signed, Groves began to enact his vision. He convinced the shipping tycoon D.K. Ludwig to construct a harbor, and in 1962 he brought in Canadian Louis Chesler to develop the tourist center of Lucaya.
In the meantime, West End would undergo major change as well. Construction had begun in West End in 1951 of the Jack Tar Resort developed by Billy Butlin, one of the most lavish resort properties in Grand Bahama, also the first Caribbean all-inclusive property. The project included an airfield, a marina, a complex of canals, a commercial dock, a 424-room hotel, a 27-hole golf course and the largest freshwater swimming pool in the western hemisphere. The resort prospered in the 50s and 60s, but then eventually began a slow decline until the resort finally closed in the late 1980s.
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