In honor of ‘Dr. Roy’

The cover of the November/December 1971 issue of The Northwester featured Dr. Roy McTaggart, recently named a National Hero.
The cover of the November/December 1971 issue of The Northwester featured Dr. Roy McTaggart, recently named a National Hero.

In the November/December 1971 edition of The Northwester magazine, the editor did a great cover story on Dr. Roy McTaggart, covering all his achievements, particularly the fact that he was a pioneer in many fields such as shipping (the MV Cimboco was the lifeline for Caymanians in the early years), the gas business, a local newspaper, tourism, being the first dentist, the supermarket business, developer of the Seaview Hotel and the first four-story building in Cayman, a longtime legislator, champion of free education and businessman, to name a few of his achievements, and it also covered the fact that what Dr. Roy is most remembered for is his single-handed heroic stand against following Jamaica into independence.

On Feb. 6 1972, Rev. George O.W. Hicks wrote a letter to the editor of The Northwester which is more truthful today than it even was in 1972. In light of Dr. Roy McTaggart being named a National Hero on Jan. 25, 2016, I wish to repeat the letter of Feb. 6 1972 by Rev. Hicks:

“Dear Sir: I enjoyed your cover story in the November/December issue very much about Dr. Roy McTaggart. If there is one man in the islands who deserves some recognition, it is ‘Dr. Roy.’ However, I believe it might be in order to comment further about one aspect of the story, namely the portion devoted to Dr. McTaggart’s role in the move to separate the Cayman Islands from the Jamaican Independence movement and thus retain the status of a Crown Colony.

“I realize it was mentioned in your story, but I feel it should be singled out again, since the issue involved might possibly be the most important step taken yet in the history of the islands. And, Dr. Roy McTaggart was the man mainly responsible for it! A man of foresight, he realized that becoming a part of Jamaica would not be advantageous to the islands, and he rose to lead the move against it.

“In the beginning, the majority of members of the Legislative Assembly were ready to vote for the link with Jamaica. It was only through the efforts of Dr. Roy McTaggart that the course of history for the islands was changed. Dr. McTaggart carried his ideas to the people of the Islands, convinced them of the advantages of remaining a Crown Colony, and then returned to the Assembly with the mandate of the people.

“The result is well known: The Legislative Assembly voted unanimously to retain the status we enjoy today.

“To understand the significance of this, reflect for a moment what it would be like if it had not been for Dr. McTaggart: Would the Islands be experiencing the tremendous economic growth that they are now under the tax haven status? Would our citizens be free from income and business taxes? Could we still enjoy the special immigration status we enjoy with our friend the United States? Probably not.

“The Cayman Islands are fortunate to have a man like Dr. Roy McTaggart to call on in times of need. Many Caymanians think of our ‘Dr. Roy’ as the ‘Winston Churchill’ of the Cayman Islands. It is easy to see why when the facts are known.

“I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Dr. Roy McTaggart for his efforts. We in the Islands owe him a debt that can never be repaid.

Yours sincerely, Rev. George O.W. Hicks.

That letter was written by Rev. Hicks in February 1972. The only fact that Rev. Hicks didn’t mention and that was told to us many times by uncle Roy himself, is that he drove around the island by himself and collected over 3,000 signatures on a petition from a population of less than 7,000, and spoke for over four hours when he presented it in the Legislative Assembly.

I am repeating Rev. Hicks’s letter today in January 2016 because it applies as much, or more, today than it did then. Thank you to the government for honoring “Dr. Roy,” and congratulations to him for an honor more than well deserved.

David Wight

Editor’s Note: We take particular pride in Dr. Roy McTaggart’s achievements, as he was the founder of The Caymanian Weekly newspaper, the forerunner of today’s Cayman Compass.