Critterville Cove Historical Society
Note: The historical records of the Island Republic of Critter Key (IRoCK) were kept in the lighthouse that used to be at the northern point by the marina, because it was one of the only concrete buildings on the island and deemed safest from fire. Unfortunately, in October 1941 on a foggy day, the lighthouse was mistaken for a ship and torpedoed by a German U-boat. Sadly, many documents and records were lost.
The Island Republic of Critter Key (IRoCK) is 10 miles long and 3 miles wide. On the island there are 2 towns, each on opposite ends of the island, Critterville Cove on the southwestern side, and Parrotsburg on the northern shore. Parrotsburg is more of a metropolitan center, with industry, schools, a Hospital, Rum distillery, and many of the other places you'd expect to see in any large town. Between the towns is known as the Highlands, and recently a vineyard was started using the fertile soil and southern exposure to grow both grapes and hops used locally to make world class wines and beer.
Critterville Cove on the other hand, isn't much more than a sleepy fishing village, with a few restaurants, bars, and various shops. The most prominent geographic feature at the northern end of Critterville Cove is Cape Poirot, known locally as ___?___ Bluff for its sheer cliff plunging into the ocean waves. It is named for Jean Luc Poirot, a French Capitaine who claimed to be a French Naval Officer but was later tried and hung as a pirate. Poirot and his expedition first visited these waters over three hundred years ago. The bluff begins in the calmer waters on the northwest shore of the cove and extends around northward on the west shores of the island. A few years ago, with an endowment from a mysterious unknown source*, an amphitheater was built into the bluff along the cove. Seating is built into the bluff, while the stage is on the water's edge, making for memorable evening concerts of many international acts with beautiful sunsets and surfers surfing in the background.
* rumored but never publicly confirmed to be a wealthy rock star and entrepreneur
From the Amphitheater, you can walk the beach thru town and to the marina on the southern point, which curls like a Shepherd’s Hook to provide safe harbor to all in all kinds of weather. At the entrance to the marina is a ramp which the many seaplanes that bring fresh supplies from the mainland (and the occasional rock star) use to get to the airport, just behind the marina. The airport is small, and cannot accommodate large commercial airlines, but using the seaplanes, one can connect to them on nearby islands.
The only motor vehicles on the island are a fleet of jeepneys operated by a Rastafarian family that ferries people from Critterville Cove to Parrotsburg where some people work, via CK-1 the main roadway which runs north-south along the length of the island. In the past few years, golf carts, once only seen at Critterville Cove Country Club, are seen being used by locals to get around. Both the carts and Jeepneys are personalized by bright colors, flags and other accessories. The only other mode of transportation is bicycles, and there is a bike shop in Critterville Cove which keeps them in running order.
Due to the schools and other metropolitan conveniences being in Parrotsburg, Critterville Cove has become more of a retirement Community, with the population mostly made up of "empty nesters". That said, there is a child-like feel to the community, and a distinct love of life that brings people from all over the world to experience it over and over again. People are free to be themselves without judgment...in a word, Paradise.
|| The island was discovered by a French Capitaine Jean Luc Poirot who claimed to be a French Naval Officer but was later tried and hung as a pirate. He claimed the island as the Isle du Poirot, and its capital, where the local tribe lived, Poirotburg. |
| The island was already inhabited by a tribe of Carib Indians who welcomed their new friends. The tribe was a very friendly and celebrated for almost any reason, something the French crew enjoyed very much during their stay.
The French Explorers left a few months later when word came that the Spanish Navy were coming for them. According to Spanish records, Poirot and his crew were responsible for commandeering 2 sloops filled with rum which was destined for Havana. After taking the rum and other of the ships’ cargo, Poirot’s pirates set the Spanish crews adrift in lifeboats and set their sloops afire.
|| When Poirot left the Isle du Poirot, a few of his crew mutinied and hid on the far side of the island. These crewmembers continued to live on their side of the island and trade with the tribe. They married women from the tribe and had children. One of the crew was an Englishman who was literate and started a school for both their and the tribes children. His name was Paul Crite'. While teaching the children English, names started to become Anglicized. What was once Poirotburg soon became Parrotsburg, and the local tribe that lived there started to be called "the parrot people" by those that lived on surrounding islands. The village that Crite' and the other mutineers created soon became known as Critterville and those that lived there Critters. |
Things on the island went well after the Poirot left. On the first Anniversary of him leaving, May 24, 1659 they celebrated. The mutineers brought out rum that was still hidden in a cave in the Highlands, and the locals brought food and music, and wore customary grass skirts and coconut bras. Wanting to impress their friends and having enjoyed too much rum, the Mutineers donned skirts and bras, much to the amazement of the tribe. Since then, coconut bras and grass skirts have become common for both men and women at all island celebrations.
It was also a custom of the tribe to put colorful feathers in front of their huts to let others know they were welcome to join them for festivities. People would make their way around the town looking for tail feathers, knowing that’s where the festivities were. As the town grew and more modern homes were built, the feathers were left on the gates in front of their homes, and soon the term "tailgating" was coined.
|| Undated photo, believed to be taken around 1897, shows an Island Republic of Critter Key official government post office in the township of Critterville Cove. The post office and general store were operated by Bubba Newes Crite, Jr., believed to be a direct descendent Paul Crite.|