|Simon van der
|Forty years old, well
educated, widely travelled and related by marriage to a director of the VOC,
Simon van der Stel quickly developed ambitious plans for the expansion of a
colony when he arrived in 1679.
Survey teams and geologists were sent out and he surveyed for
himself the fertile mountain slopes beyond the Cape Flats. One night he camped
among bushes on an island in the Eerste River. He declared he would build a
town along the stream, and name it after his night in the shrubs -
The land around the town would be developed for farms, and
especially wine making (wine was required for the ships). Each year he
celebrated his birthday with festivities in the elegant, oak lined village he
had founded, which is today an attractive town in the winelands. He latter
developed farms and settlements at Paarl and Drakenstein on the Berg river.
In 1685 he established the magnificent Groot Constantia wine farm as a model to
Dutch farmers. He was a cultured man, dismayed by the poor quality of wine
production, and determined to teach the Boers (farmers) by example.
However, soon Simon discovered a better way to improve farming.
When King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, providing religious tolerance
in France, many Huguenot (protestant) refugees made their way to Holland. Van
der Stel asked the VOC to provide passage to the Cape for any with experience
of wine farming.
Roughly 200 were shipped over, increasing the population by a
third. They were provided with limited supplies and sent out to establish
farms, first to the region of Paarl and then to an elephant breeding ground
called 'Oliphantshoek' that later became known as 'Franschhoek'. Van der Stel
may be regarded as the father of the South African wine industry.
Simon also explored the Peninsula and named 'Simon's Bay' - a natural harbour
in False Bay that was to be used extensively in years to come, and is today the
major naval base of the SA Navy. A road was built from Constantia Nek
connecting the colony to Hout Bay in 1693.
In Cape Town itself, Simon instituted a hospital in 1697. With
so many sick sailors arriving at the Cape, and illness common in the town, it
was designed for 225 patients and located in the quiet of the company gardens,
which was designated a botanical garden as production shifted to the
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· Culture ·
In this period of Cape History:
Cape Town in the
The Boom of the