When we take a look at the Company Garden (Jardin de la Compagnie) today and we try to compare it to what it was some hundred years ago we will immediately see the difference, both physically and emotionally. Today the garden no longer bears the same feeling of the time, nor has a soul as some would say; it has become a place of insecurity and ‘immorality’. Even though it is among the very few places in Port Louis where one can see some greenery, it is also a place that carries a lot of history.
The Company Garden: Back in Time
The ‘Jardin de la Compagnie’ dates back since the French Occupation period, at the time when the french settlers were still establishing their colony. When the Dutch abandoned the island in February 1710 due to frequent cyclones and floods, including repetitive attacks from maroon slaves even when they began to succeed in some of their establishment and production, the French took possession of the island in September 1721. While the acting governor ‘De Nyon’ (1722 – 1725) was still on his way, the governor of Bourbon Island (now Ile de la Reunion) on December 1721 dispatched to Isle de France (previous name of Mauritius) Mr Durongouet-Le-Toullec on ‘Le Courrier de Bourbon‘ ship with 5-6 other members and some slaves. The small team settled on the border of ‘Ruisseau du Pouce’, where the harbour went abay. They cleared a plot of land to create a garden; this is where the Company Garden originates.
The place was yet a marshy land and wasn’t much apt for construction. With time and different governorship, the ‘Jardin de la Compagnie’ was partly used as a cemetery due to the ‘Smallpox’ epidemie that was threatening the inhabitants. In 1771, under the Governorship of ‘Desroches’ (1769 – 1772), Port Louis started to ressemble a town; large streets were created and others corrected. It was then that the Cemetery part of the Garden was transferred to the current location of the ‘West Cemetery‘ (Les Salines), leaving the place to its original purpose, a place to relax and enjoy.
Many important monuments were also errected at the Company Garden to commemorate the different timeline in the history of the island.