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Located on the north coast of Dominica, the Vieille Case area was created by volcanic outflows from Morne Aux Diables. This sloping land above ravines and sea cliffs was named Itassi by the Kalinago people, who occupied it for over two hundred years before foreign settlers arrived. The first recorded contact with the French was made between the Kalinago Chief Kalamiena of Itassi and Father Raymond Breton, a French Roman Catholic missionary of the Dominican Order then based in Guadeloupe. Breton lived among the Caribs of Itassi off and on from 1642 to 1648. Through Chief Kalamiena and subsequent chiefs such as Le Baron, close French links were developed between the people of Itassi and the French in Basseterre, Guadeloupe. The contact with Guadeloupe encouraged settlers from poor white (petite blanc) families, who were being sidelined by the expansion of sugar industry in Guadeloupe, to come and settle among the Caribs. Most of the Caribs intermixed with these French smallholders and therefore many Vieille Case families have French and African as well as Carib ancestry. They began to call the place Vieille Case apparently from the old Carib karbays that still stood there when the French arrived. Because of the steep jagged nature of the land, no large estates developed at Vieille Case even after the British took over Dominica in 1763.  It remained a community of small land-holders, mainly peasant proprietors owning a few slaves to produce coffee. However after the coffee blight of the 1840s, Vieille Case shifted to sugar. The tax records of 1827, for instance, show members of the Brumant families with 11, 14 and 15 slaves each, producing an average of 900 lbs of coffee a year. The four Royer holdings averaged 4 slaves each and Joseph Le Blanc had 7 slaves. The wider community is composed of many different zones such as Coton, Paille, Balthazar, En Bas and Au Tou among others. The Catholic Church, run by the French priests from 1872, was the focus of the community and the construction of the existing church began later in the 1870s.

Mural Comemmorating the First Catholic Mass Held in Dominica

Mural Comemmorating the First Catholic Mass Held in Dominica

It was an isolated community well into the 1920s that had more contact with Marie-galante and Guadeloupe than it had with Roseau.  Attention was drawn to the village from 1961, when one of its sons, Edward Oliver Le Blanc, became Chief Minister and later Premier of Dominica. Improved water systems, village roads, improved school buildings, a health clinic and electricity followed from the 1960s. Courtesy of Dr. Lennox Honychurch, www.LennoxHonychurch.com

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