Having lived in the Caribbean for 22 years, I have always found the interrelationships of old island families extremely interesting. Such families include the Soares family from Anegada, BVI, and Every/Johnson families from Saba. I had the opportunity recently to visit with Aaron Soares, a photographer and artist from Saba, and asked him about his family’s history.
“My great-grandmother, Winifred Every, was from Windwardside, Saba. The Every family is an old Saban family from generations ago,” Soares said. “Winifred married Joe Soares, from Bermuda, and resided there until her death a few years back. Their first son is my grandfather Vernon Soares, who sailed to Jost Van Dyke in search of better fishing grounds in 1964, on the Argus I, a 36’ sailboat that he built in Bermuda. Wanting more solitude, he next tried Anegada in 1966 with his wife, Julie, and four children: Mark, Shelia, Linda and Dean. Mark & Dean now own and run the BVI’s leading fishing company.
“The family lived in a tent on the beach at Setting Point for three years before purchasing the two acres where Neptune’s Treasure Restaurant and Hotel is now located. I am Mark’s son and grew up on Anegada. My aunt Shelia married Cletus Johnson from Saba. The Johnsons are one of the oldest families on Saba and this is how I met my wife, Desiree Johnson. I attended my cousin Shaun Johnson’s wedding on Saba as his best man in July of 2003; he is my Aunt Shelia’s son. Desiree Johnson was maid of honor to the bride, her cousin, Sonya Johnson. We fell in love and married on Saba in 2006 so I naturally moved from Anegada to Saba.”
Having interviewed Aaron’s grandfather, Vernon Soares, many times, I know the importance of Neptune’s Treasure as one of the main suppliers of BVI fish, as a “laid-back” resort, and as the sponsor of one of the BVI’s best regattas, the Dark & Stormy. I let the family connections sink in as to the importance of the Every/Johnson families, two of the oldest and most influential families on Saba, and the Anegada Soares. All three families have greatly contributed to the culture and economies of the northern Caribbean. After some discussion I turned to Aaron’s love of photography and sketching.
“The sea is a part of me,” he said. “Growing up on Anegada I was always on the sea, whether it was fishing with my father Mark and my Uncle Dean, diving or bringing back freight from Tortola. The sea has always been a major part of my life, even here on Saba. Living on the eastern part of the Windwardside, I continually gaze out to the sea to view what is happening. Tankers are always passing in route to the fuel bunkers on St. Eustatius. As manager of The Cottage Club, a 10 cottage hotel, I don’t fish as much as I would like; now in my spare time I do my photography and my art.
“My mother-in-law, Patsy Johnson from Saba, is one of the Caribbean’s most noted artists and she inspired me to both draw and photograph. Even though I’m not out on the sea fishing anymore, the trade-winds, elevation, and gazing out over the Caribbean inspire me daily. My mediums are photography, charcoal, and acrylic. I love the sea so naturally it would influence my art in every way.”
Aaron is indeed a talented young man. I greatly enjoyed my visit with him and his family along with revisiting the lovely island of Saba. Aaron’s art may be viewed at www.soaresart.com