Jean Walrond-Patterson was born in Port Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago. Port Fortin is an oil town not
unlike other oil towns such as Fort McMurray, Alberta. Her mother's family originally came from French
speaking Greneda before settling in Arima, Trinidad. Although the official language of Trinidad and
Tobago is English, Jean's mother spoke mostly French Patois until she entered school. Jean's father's
family was originally from Barbados. Her grandfather had moved the family to Trinidad because there
was a demand for his expertise as a sugarcane panboiler. Jean's father worked as a pharmacist for
Shell Trinidad in Port Fortin as well as traveling to oilfield outposts such as Penal and Rio Claro.
Due to her father's position with Shell Trinidad, Jean's family received certain privileges such as a
telephone, inexpensive company housing, and access to the Shell Savannah Club.
Very important to her family, Jean was exposed to music and carnival at an early age. On visits to her
grandmother's house, she used pound away at the piano and listen to her cousins, who played in the
"Proud Rebels Steel Orchestra," rehearse their steel pans. Her Aunt Clemmie even used to host an annual
Kiddies Carnival. At home, Jean's family would listen to the Dimanche Gras show on Carnival Sunday
night and she would never go to bed until she found out who was crowned Carnival King and Queen. They
also regularly attended J'ouvert, Kiddies Carnivals, and the "Parades of the bands" competitions. In
her own words, Jean recalls a memorable Carnival experience:
My most vivid memory was seeing George Bailey's band "Somewhere in New Guinea" coming through the
Savannah at 4:00 p.m. on Carnival Tuesday. I was, as they say, "blown away" by the beautiful combination
of blues and greens, reds and yellows, on the plumed head pieces that fluttered in the afternoon breeze.
Oh, what the glow of the setting Sun had done to this spectacular portrayal of Bailey's interpretation
of some mythical place in South East Asia!
At the age of eleven, Jean's family moved to San Juan and then again when she was a teen to Valsayn
Park, Trinidad. In 1968, Jean left Trinidad for Montreal to study Statistics and Economics at Sir
George Williams University. There, she met and married Michael Patterson who was originally from
Guyana. She also finished University and had two children. In Montreal, Jean became aware of Carnival
events in Toronto and even New York but none compared to what she remembered from back in Trinidad.
Jean's family moved from Montreal to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1975 and then to Edmonton in 1978.
When Edmonton's Cariwest festival began in 1985, Jean initially remained skeptical about it too.
However, by 1992, a Trinidadian client of her small business convinced her to finally participate.
Jean had a wonderful time and despite all the Carnival she had experienced as a child, this was the
first time she had actually ever played mas'. So intrigued with the experience, Jean documented the
Carnival experiences of people in both Edmonton and in Trinidad for Masters thesis at the University
of Alberta. Finished in 1999, the work is entitled "Caribbean Canadians Celebrate Carnival: Costumes
and Inter-Generational Relationships." It is with her gracious permission that we have utilized many
of her beautiful images and information for this section.