The Americans say that they built the Panama Canal but the voices of 25,000 dead labourers say otherwise. We will probably never know the exact toll from Barbados, but the historians who I have read agree that the bulk of labourers on the project were black Bajans. The history section of the Panama Canal Authority website confirms this also.
The photo above was taken September 2, 1909 and shows the deck of the S.S. Ancon arriving in Panama with 1500 Bajans to work on the canal. How many eventually returned to Bridgetown and how many are buried in nameless graves in Panama? I wonder if our Barbados Museum has any records or if no one bothered to record the names of black men and women who left the island for Panama.
There is much information available on the net and you owe it to yourself to learn something of our ancestors who left home to work on the greatest construction project of the time.
BBC: Panama Canal Gallery
The Silver People Chronicle Blog – The story of West Indian people of Panama