Charles Cadet was born in Castries, Saint Lucia on December 16, 1924. His father, Gerald Cadet, was an offspring of one of Saint Lucia’s early advocates of political advancement, who served on the Castries Town Board (now the Castries City Council) for several decades in the early part of the twentieth century. Emmanuel D. Cadet was also a member of the Castries Vestry of the Roman Catholic Church. The Cadet Pavilion at Victoria Park (now Mindoo Philip Park) was named after him.
Charles attended the foremost Roman Catholic School on the island, St. Aloysius Boys Primary on Brazil Street, Castries. He was under the tutelage of the renowned, strict disciplinarian Headmaster, Mr. Henry Belizaire, who was recognized as one of the few local British Caribbean educators to write a booklet on Geographical Terms. Charles showed promise academically at an early age, and so was admitted to the only secondary school on the island for boys, St. Mary’s College, then located at the Corner of Broglie and Micoud Streets.
At St. Mary’s, Charles absorbed the British Colonial Classical Education menu that was dished out at the time, and excelled in the en vogue British Empire History extolled by English Headmaster, Terrence ‘Foxy’ Fox-Hawes; English Language and English Literature; Mathematics, Geography; and Languages – Latin and French. While most of the students veered towards Cricket, Football and Athletics in their extra-curricular activities, Charles’ interest was more directed towards the Arts, Drama and Music. In the case of the latter, he was one of the few boys who received special tuition in Music from the Nuns at St. Mary’s sister institution, St. Joseph’s Convent. There he was, in the main, under the endearing guidance of one of Saint Lucia’s foremost musical doyen at the time, Sister Annunciata.
Because of Charles’ musical prowess he often participated in Musical Ceremonies held by the Nuns of St. Joseph’s Convent, but this led to an unfortunate incident. At one of the concerts at the Convent, Charles sang some Irish Nationalist songs with gusto. His Headmaster, an Englishman Terrence ‘Foxy’ Fox-Hawes who attended the concert, attempted to cane Charles for singing at the Concert without his permission. Charles adamantly refused to be caned and reported the matter to his parents. His parents took the matter up with Fr. Harcourt, Rector of St. Mary’s College and that was the end of the matter. That result arose from the fact that the Cadet family was a well-respected, faithful and influential Roman Catholic family and Charles’ grandfather, Emmanuel D. Cadet, had been an ardent member of the College’s Advisory Committee in the 1930’s.
As a result of this incident Charles’ resistance to Colonial attitudes was cemented. Headmaster Terrence ‘Foxy’ Fox-Hawes was a perfect exponent and example of Victorian Imperialism. Charles described the colonial imperialistic attitude of Fox-Hawes in the public flogging of a student at school, with all masters and the assembly of boys in attendance. Charles indicated that the scene invoked images of the white slave master flogging slaves as occurred during the days of slavery, and left such an everlasting impression on him that in his later years he penned a poem on the incident which ended thus:
Bad ones linger on
The public beating of a boy
Seen when at thirteen
I still recall at 93.”
Post Secondary Education
On obtaining his University of Cambridge School Certificate and University of London Matriculation, Charles entered the Colonial Civil Service as a Junior Clerk. After serving for a few years he migrated to Curaçao with a group of young Saint Lucians that included the likes of the St. Omer Brothers, the Mason Brothers, Claudius Thomas, Greaham Louisy, John Compton, et al. There, he worked at the Laboratories at the refineries of the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, Shell.
The advent of a Labour Government in England after the end of World War II saw a change of policy towards the development of the British Empire, which was influenced to a certain degree by our own, William Arthur Lewis, who during this period was an active member of the Fabian Society and advisor to certain members of the British Labour Party, as well as the Colonial office. In that regard the centre-point of a significant part of Lewis’ work viz. the importance of Human Capital in economic development, came to the fore in Saint Lucia with the initiation of the Higher Education Scholarship Ordinance by the House of Assembly on 17th November, 1945.
Previously there was only one Island Scholarship which opened the gates to tertiary education, and so this Ordinance provided six scholarships annually for qualified Saint Lucian students to access University education. The qualifications for the awards were similar to that of the lone Island Scholarship. Thus Charles with his University of London Matriculation Certification along with others like Greaham Louisy, Denis St. Helene, A. Bastien, G.M. Lorde, D.R Richmond, A.M. Sutherland, L. A. St. Ville, George Girard and Basil de Couteau were early recipients of these Higher Education Scholarships.
Charles Cadet, although originating from an urban environment opted to study Agriculture. This might have been triggered by his youthful contact with food producers and vendors of the Castries Market, where his father, Gerald Cadet, was the Market Director. He proceeded to the Maritime Provinces of Canada where he entered the Nova Scotia Agriculture College, Truro. He was introduced for the first time to the study of Science, which was not then offered as an examination subject at St. Mary’s College. By dint of hard work, persistence and perseverance he was able to obtain a Diploma in Agriculture Science. Thereafter, he proceeded to the Faculty of Agriculture, McGill University at Macdonald College in Sainte-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture, specializing in General Agriculture Science in 1952. He became the third Samarian and Saint Lucian to obtain a degree in Agriculture after Victor Archer, the first, and St. George Cooper, the second. He remained at Macdonald for another two years pursuing post graduate studies in Animal Physiology for which he was awarded a Master’s Degree in Agriculture Science. It should be noted that during his stay at McGill he continued his interest in Music and was influential in composing musical renditions for Graduation and other Ceremonies which were well received by University audiences.
Agriculture Research Scientist
Charles Cadet returned to Saint Lucia in 1954 and re-entered the Colonial Civil Service, this time as a Professional in the position of Assistant Agricultural Superintendent. He thus became the first Saint Lucian Agriculture Scientist to work in his native land. Under the then Superintendent of Agriculture, Swithin Schouten (an M.Sc. in Agriculture Economics) he was given responsibility for investigative activities in Agriculture at the Union Agricultural Station. He was a pioneer in Agriculture Research in Saint Lucia and laid the foundations for a small island agricultural research programme, which was later enhanced by other exponents of agriculture research such as Dr. John Sessing (a Jamaican), Francis Leonce and Calixte George.
During his period at Union he conducted technical studies in relation to development of the embryonic Banana Industry. Of particular significance in that regard was the identification of nematode damage to Banana cultivations. Special attention was also paid to Cocoa improvement and production, particularly the evaluation of Cocoa ICS clonal selections from the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA), Trinidad, which was the foremost Tropical Agriculture Research Centre in the British Empire and perhaps the World. An active expansive Cocoa Propagation Unit was well managed at Union and Bath Nursery in Soufriere, which provided improved planting material to both large estates and peasant farmers. The propagation and distribution of improved Citrus cultivars was also high on the agriculture diversification agenda, as well as the evaluation of Malayan Dwarf Coconut Cultivars.
In addition to his normal duties at Union Agricultural Station, he assisted the Headmaster of St. Mary’s College, Rev. Bro. Canice Collins, with the supervision of Practical Examinations in the Natural Sciences – Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Botany and Zoology – for the University of Cambridge Senior School and Higher School Certificates. This also provided him the opportunity to induce and recruit students with a Scientific Orientation for further training and moulding to become Scientific Technicians, who could assist him in his scientific investigations at Union. Some of these students such as Laurie Auguste, Cyril Matthew and Francis Leonce later became respectable Agricultural Scientists who contributed significantly to the Agricultural Development of Saint Lucia.
The School of Agriculture which was established in 1901 was continued during Charles’ tenure at Union Agricultural Station. He provided several groups of Agricultural Cadets with both theoretical Agriculture Science Studies and practical Agriculture exercises. Several of these Cadets (e.g. Cuthbert Henry, Augustus Andrew, Rudolph St. Hill, Thomas St. Hill, Alban Cumberbatch, Hilary La Force, Egbert Jean et al) were recruited as Extension Officers in the Department of Agriculture and other Agriculture Institutions such as the St. Lucia Banana Growers Association, the Agricultural Development Bank, the Agricultural Marketing Board, and Commodity Associations such as Coconut Growers Association, and Agriculturists Association
Superintendent of Agriculture
Upon retirement of Swithin Schouten, Charles Cadet was appointed Superintendent of Agriculture in 1958, becoming the first Saint Lucian to be elevated to that position in the Colonial Service. Charles continued on the pathway that Schouten had initiated for Banana Development particularly as it related to Agricultural Engineering Services. Banana cultivation and production expanded exponentially due to the introduction of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Tractor Pool for land preparation, land formation, drainage and farm roads. As the newly appointed Superintendent, he managed, adequately supported by Mechanical Engineer, St. Clair Prout, what became recognized as the best Agricultural Engineering Service in the Eastern Caribbean. In fact the current Rural Road network that we currently enjoy is due, in no small measure, to the construction of farm roads serving a cluster of small farms, funding for which had to be justified to the Colonial Development and Welfare (CD&W) Funds of the British Government. In that regard Charles was an expert in the preparation of project proposals to CD&W, which became of inestimable value later on his career when he became the first Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning and Development.
On becoming Superintendent of Agriculture Charles had overall responsibility for all aspects of Agriculture, particularly, the Extension Services. As a result he completed studies in Rural Sociology at Ohio State University which was of value to him in providing direction, guidance and appropriate agricultural dissemination strategies to the expanding number of technical officers serving in the Extension Services in both the Department of Agriculture and the Saint Lucia Banana Growers Association. In addition he paid attention to the development of Agricultural Co-operatives. It should also be mentioned that during his tenure he planted the embryo for the growth of a Fisheries Unit with the recruitment of a single Fisheries Officer, ‘Fatty’ Felix (father of the current Minister for Commerce, Bradly Felix).
Charles served on several statutory Boards and private sector Institutions involved in the agricultural and overall development of Saint Lucia. These included, inter alia:
Saint Lucia Banana Growers’ Association
Saint Lucia Agriculturists’ Association
Saint Lucia Coconut Growers’ Association
Saint Lucia Copra Manufacturers’ Association
Saint Lucia Marketing Board
Saint Lucia Water Authority
In addition, Charles advanced the cause of Agriculture Development not only in Saint Lucia but regionally as well. He served as advisor to the Windward Islands Banana Growers Association (WINBAN) and Director of the Windward Islands Packaging Company.
The Ideal Permanent Secretary
In 1967 Charles Cadet was appointed Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Agriculture and Tourism (TIAT). It should not be forgotten that this was perhaps the most difficult Ministry to manage, as it encompassed the most important economic drivers or pillars on which the Saint Lucia economy depended – Agriculture, Industry and Tourism.
During his tenure at the helm of this Ministry Charles was an extremely hardworking, dedicated, meticulous, focused, honest, professional, and politically neutral individual. He was in all circles, public and private, considered to be a model public service officer.
Under Minister George Mallet he advanced the cause of initiating enterprise development in a variety of industries along the lines of the Arthur Lewis model of Industrialization of under-developed countries. Of particular significance in that regard was the establishment of the Garment Industry.
Charles started the Tourism Department with two other public officers, Irwin Skeete as the first Tourism Officer and Ms. Saltibus as Secretary. The Tourist Board was also established with Peter Bergasse as Chairman.
Charles, together with Mallet and Bergasse, were the nursemaids who nurtured the growth of modern Tourism infrastructure – Hotels, Guest Houses, Restaurants, Entertainment House, Nature Attractions, etc.
In the Trade arena Charles was considered by many in the Caribbean as the premier store-house of knowledge of the Oils and Fats Conferences and served as Minister Mallet’s Chief Advisor at these conferences. He also represented Saint Lucia’s position with vigour at discussions, meetings, seminars and conferences dealing with matters on regional integration. Thus he contributed significantly, alongside persons like William Demas of Trinidad and Tobago, in the conceptualization and formation of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) and later the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as the product arising from the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
After a five-year stint as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Agriculture and Tourism (TIAT), Prime Minister, John Compton drew Charles to the office of the Prime Minister, as the Permanent Secretary for Planning and Development. In essence he virtually was the Chief Technical, Administrative and Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister in all matters concerning the planning and development of the country. With characteristic humility, fervor, honesty and loyalty Charles devoted all his energy; knowledge and skills to his new position. It would appear that Charles was destined for such a position as he had fortunately pursued post-graduate studies in Development Planning at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies at The Hague, the Netherlands as well as attending seminars on Agricultural Planning and Development with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. Thus with his wide and varied knowledge and experiences, Charles served his country with honour, dedication and distinction.
Charles interactions with Donor agencies such as the British Development Division (BDD); The European Union (EU); United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Japanese International Development Agency (JIDA); Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), led to the approval of several development projects particularly because of his logical, convincing, persuasive writing skills. During this period he also interacted with the Development Banking Entities such as the Caribbean Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, The European Development Bank and the World Bank.
Charles served as Chairman of the Development Control Authority and was Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister at the CARICOM Heads of Governments Conferences.
Charles was responsible for the establishment of the Bureau of Standards and served as its Chairman.
Upon retirement from the Saint Lucia Civil Service, Charles Cadet served as the Representative of the Windward Islands Banana Growers Association (WINBAN) in the United Kingdom. As such he was seeped in the intricacies of dealing with the main United Kingdom Banana Traders such as Marks and Spencer, Sainbury’s, Waitrose etc. He also served the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as Trade Counselor and acted as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. He participated in negotiations with the European Union leading to the Lomé and Coutonou Agreements. He was Chairman of the Banana Section of the Africa. Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group.
On returning to the Caribbean he took up a Consultancy Assignment in the Saint Lucia Ministry of Trade, responsible for matters dealing with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the transition to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In fact he prepared all the documentation necessary for Saint Lucia’s entry to the WTO.
Charles’ last professional endeavour was as Co-ordinator for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Trade Policy Project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Man of the Arts
As indicated earlier Charles showed a special interest in Drama and Music while still a student at St. Mary’s College. Charles was born into a musical family. His father Gerald Cadet was a well known Baritone Singer and Clarinet player, who along with one of Saint Lucia’s foremost Musician in the forties and fifties, Charlie Abrams, organised the annual St. Cecilia Day parade in Castries. The music DNA resides in the genes of several members of the Cadet family such as Patsy and Barbara Cadet and Luther Francois.
Charles’ musical talent was developed alongside the growth of Saint Lucia’s Folk Culture. This may very well have been catalysed by Charles’ very close association with Saint Lucia’s FATHER OF CULTURE; Harold “Harry” Simmonds. In fact Charles as Superintendent of Agriculture and living at the Union Agriculture Station provided living accommodation for Harry’s artistic and cultural activities at the Station for a considerable period of time.
During this period Charles also had a close relationship with an uncle of the Walcott Brothers – Mr. Wardrope. It was therefore, not surprising that Charles struck a mutual chord with Roderick ‘Aldon’ “Roddy” Walcott, twin brother of Derek ‘Alton’ Walcott. The playwright/Music Composer relationship resulted in Charles composing music for several of Roddy’s plays – Banjo Man, The Legend of Tom Fool, The Wonderful World of Brother Rabbit, Guitar Man Song and the famous Chanson Marianne. Charles’ musical compositions certainly enhanced these dramatic performances. He similarly aided McDonald Dixon’s play – TINDAY.
Charles collaborated with several other individuals like “Boo” Hinkson in his long illustrious musical career. The famous duo – Charles Cadet and Francis Clauzel – filling the atmosphere of the Castries Roman Catholic Church with Gregorian Chants and the Minuit Chretien at Midnight Mass during the Christmas/New Year season, was a special exceptional performance that was spiritually uplifting and electrifying and became an electro-magnetic attraction which drew Castries people to church.
Charles’ relationship with Joyce Auguste and Petronilla Deterville of the Cecilian Rays was also exceptional and was duly appreciated by thousands of Music lovers. Perhaps his best known musical exposition “POINSETTIA BLOSSOMS”, a reflection of his botanical and musical loves, will no doubt be his eternal legacy.
Charles was recognized in musical circles internationally. During his United Kingdom days he collaborated with several English Musicians eventually leading to the performance of his CHASON MARIANNE at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, London.
During his later years Charles was enthralled with the poetic art form. He crafted several poems on a wide variety of topics, including environmental conservation and philosophy. One publication ‘Rusting Gate’ deals with his self-imposed exile at Grande Riviere. A special poem entitled “History Lesson” especially written for Calixte George’s recent publication “St. Mary’s College: The Caribbean’s Nobel Laureate School” is a gem and of historic value.
Charles Cadet has received several awards for his significant contributions to the overall social, economic and cultural growth and development of his native land, the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States, the wider Caribbean and the British Empire.
Member of the British Empire M.B.E.
Order of the British Empire O.B.E.
Commander of the British Empire C.B.E.
Saint Lucia Cross S.L.C.
M&C Fine Arts Life Time Award
Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s Hall of Fame
Marie Emmanuel Charles Cadet who we consider to be a multifaceted genius falls into the same genera of outstanding Saint Lucians such as Sir William Arthur Lewis, Sir Allen Lewis, Sir Garnet Gordon, Sir Derek Alton Walcott and Professor Roy Augier. He should be considered a National Hero.