History & Culture


Canouan was originally occupied by groups of Amerindians travelling north from the South American mainland. Its name is derived from the Arawakan word Cannoun, meaning turtle or turtle island.

In the 1700s, French settlers brought West African slaves to work sugar plantations.The island came under British ownership following the Anglo-French wars and a man named William Snagg began planting and harvesting cotton. Several wind-powered ginneries were constructed in the north along with an Anglican church and a school.

Following the abolition of slavery in the 1830s, the island’s industry switched to fishing, boat building and whaling. Two whaling stations were built and remained operational up until 1925. In 1946 the Snagg estate was sold to the colonial government, and in the 1990s, 800 acres were sold to an Italian consortium who set about developing a hotel at Carenage Bay.

In 2004 the north of the island was purchased by Raffles Hotels & Resorts, which is now renamed as Canouan Resort. Today many of our residents are employed in some fashion by Canouan Resort or by the construction companies that continue to develop Canouan as a luxury resort destination.

In 2008 work was completed on the Canouan airport extension. The airport was renamed Canouan Jetport.