At Victoria, the East Coast Highway veers off in two directions, into the villages of Cove and John and Victoria, then continues its journey eastward. The point at which the highway detours is a kind of bottleneck, a space shared by residents of both villages. At that point, the road narrows into congestion and confusion even as the myriad influences from the villages converge. The gatherings there have different missions.
“Four Corner,” as the junction has come to be known, is the place where Victoria leaves its indelible mark. It is a relatively small space into which just about everything that is lively and animated is crammed. There are myriad vendors, shops, drinking establishments and traffic all competing for the same congested space; then there are minibuses and loud music and people wandering aimlessly in the space, all seemingly animated by the rarified air of the ‘four corner’ space. If you are not familiar with ‘Four Corner’ you might even consider it a somewhat intimidating place. The people who congregate there seem relaxed.
In the congestion of the `Four Corner’ area, lies a small wooden structure named Emancipation Hut. It has stood there more than 100 years, a landmark which, in its modesty, speaks to the historical importance of Victoria. Sixty-seven-year-old Hilda Barnwell, (all of Victoria know her as Cousin Hilda), the building’s current Caretaker, also serves as its unofficial archive. Time was when Emancipation Hut served as a bank where the newly freed slaves took the money which they had saved to be counted. It was those monies that that were later to be pooled to purchase Plantation Northbrook. In November 1839 , a year and three months after being freed approximately 83 ex-slaves from five nearby estates: Hope, Dochfour, Ann’s Grove, Paradise and Enmore, pooled six thousand dollars and made a down payment on the purchase price of $10,000.00. Afterwards, it was re-named Victoria, some say after the reigning British monarch at the time; others say that it was to honour the memory of the slaves whose struggle had led to the ‘victory’ of acquiring the plantation…..