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Seventy years ago Bermuda was considerably more tranquil. Uncluttered shorelines swept inland and vanished into cedar-dominated landscapes; bicycles and horse-drawn carriages left their marks along dusty roadways; and the island, rich with the scent of poinsettias, lillies and morning-glories, was often called a "playground for the rich." (Bermuda still isn't a cheap thrill.) Its fabled beauty was legendary, leading one frequent visitor to enthuse: "One's first visit to Bermuda is, indeed, an enchanted holiday! But one's second, or third or fourth! With what breathless eagerness one peers from the ship's porthole on the early morning of one's subsequent arrival, incredulously questioning, `Is it still there, that Lilliputian miracle of beauty?' "

Mrs. George Draper's personal observation in 1930 was a common reaction to an uncommon land. Bermuda's physical beauty was, and remains, undeniable, making it one of the most expensive pieces of beachfront in the world. And it would be wrong to conclude that serenity is a thing of the past. Within the city itself there are parks like Par-la-Ville and Victoria. Beyond Hamilton's borders, beaches and quiet coves may have only a few couples taking the sun or swimming languidly in the island's fabled waters. But the island is more than just a pretty face. Scratch the surface, and just beneath the "tranquil and contenting" skin is a country that over the last twenty years has evolved from an almost mythical sleepy hollow into a dynamic international business hub.

The effect of this growth is reflected to varying degrees in all of the island's nine parishes, each named after a prominent shareholder in the Bermuda Company. The only exception is St. George's Parish, which was named after England's patron saint. Our parishes, originally called "tribes," were surveyed and divided by English mapmaker Richard Norwood, who began traversing the island in 1615, finishing the following year. However, the designation "tribe roads" (and not "parish roads") remains.

With the exception of St. George's, Hamilton and Smiths, every parish has them. Running north to south, they are public rights of way, and several are tiny, quiet lanes opening onto major arteries like South Road and Middle Road. Others are little more than footpaths.

In 1913 a Tribe Road Commission was appointed to look into these off-roads that often meander through the most unlikely places, some sliding past homes nestled behind stone walls deep in the heart of rural Bermuda. Their origin is not quite clear, though in 1620 the first government created specific pathways to deter persons from trespassing through corn patches and tobacco fields. Interestingly, the locations of these roads were never recorded on any map, and the commission identified 31 such roads surviving out of an estimated 46. Today most serve as shortcuts to somewhere else. Click here to go to Bermuda web site.



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