Location: Mahaica District, East Coast Demerara
Classification: Historic Settlement
Period/ Year Built: Established 1896
Historical Background / Description:
Helena is located 38.5 kilometres (23.91 miles) from Georgetown, in the District of Mahaica on the East Coast of Demerara. The community was established in 1896, as the British government’s third attempt of establishing a settlement scheme for East Indians in compensation for their return passage to India. The first settlement was established in 1871 at Nooten Zuil, on the East Coast of Demerara and ended in failure. The second, at Huis’t Dieren on the Essequibo Coast, was established in 1881, and proved to be partially successful.
The new settlement, Helena, was an abandoned sugar plantation on the West Bank of the Mahaica River. In April, 1897, after the area was surveyed, the lots divided and the drainage canals cleared, the distribution of house and cultivation lots started. By the end of the distribution process, approximately 1,206 East Indians were provided with lands, however, some did not settle in the area.
A Commission headed by Attorney General, Mr. J. W. Carrington, created by the Government to overlook the establishment of settlement schemes, felt that the indentured servants could not maintain the village on their own. Therefore, the settlement was placed into the care of Reverend James Copper of the Canadian Missionary in British Guiana who had already established a church and school in the community. This allowed the village to strive fairly well, when compared to the other two settlements.