History

From its early days as one of the battlegrounds of the Maroon Resistance to its Banana Empire glory years and its more recent Hollywood heyday, Port Antonio has a history that runs as deep as its Jamaican roots. One of Jamaica’s most compelling chronicles of human dignity is the Maroon Resistance. Originating as a small group of Spanish-owned slaves, the Maroons recalibrated the historical tide by engaging in a guerrilla style harassment of the British troops that resulted in a long history of uprising, resilience and conquest. The dawn of banana’s true potential as a major cash crop coincided with the arrival of jovial raconteur and American sea captain Lorenzo Dow Baker in 1870. Soon after first landing on Jamaican soil, the Boston Fruit Company industrialist relocated his family to Port Antonio, where local farmers, port workers and stevedores hailed him as the “Godfather of the Jamaican Banana Trade.” The unfortunate codependency of sugar and slavery arrived late in Portland, sometime after the Maroon Treaty of 1739, when the sugar industry began to skyrocket locally.