City Portrait

Bermuda: Meet the Locals

Four residents keeping the Bermudas beautiful

Edward Harris
No one has been a more stalwart guardian of Bermuda’s history than Edward Harris, an author, an archaeologist, and the executive director of the National Museum of Bermuda. His research helped make the town of St. George’s and its related forts a UNESCO World Heritage site. He waged a decades-long campaign to restore the grand but dilapidated Commissioner’s House at Dockyard, which today stands as one of Bermuda’s most impressive landmarks. Overseas, he is revered as the inventor of the Harris Matrix, a worldwide standard for interpreting archaeological sites. But he’s most proud of his work on the contentious Historic Wrecks Act, legislation passed in 2001 to protect Bermuda’s spectacular necklace of shipwrecks from unscrupulous treasure hunters. “You lose the context of objects when they’re not scientifically recorded,” he says. “This law preserves their historical value—and ensures national artifacts belong to all Bermudians.”

Nadia Aguiar
Nadia Aguiar has won international acclaim for her fantasy novel The Lost Island of Tamarind and its sequel, Secrets of Tamarind. It’s not hard to see where she gets some of her inspiration. The saga of three children and their exploits in a mysterious, jungly realm weaves folklore and coming-of-age adventure with her childhood memories of exploring Bermuda’s lush outdoor surroundings. “The natural world here is so powerful, and it soaks into you from a young age,” Aguiar says. She’s currently at work on the series’ third installment and has been thrilled by the response of her fan base of young readers. “Grown-ups don’t read books under the covers with a flashlight; they don’t sit up in a tree reading all afternoon,” she says. “I wanted to inspire that feeling again.”

Choy Aming
As a wildlife videographer, Choy Aming is no stranger to heart-pounding animal encounters (tracking lions in Botswana, for example). But it was a 2011 YouTube clip showing him free diving with tiger sharks that elicited virtual gasps from even veteran outdoor filmmakers. “Sharks aren’t as scary as you think,” says Aming, who, as cofounder with veterinarian Neil Burnie of the Bermuda Shark Project, has spent hundreds of underwater hours filming the sea’s most maligned predators. The pair are now using satellite tags to track the movements of Bermuda’s tiger and dusky sharks. And as for the free diving? “People have to realize sharks are pretty amazing—and docile—creatures,” Aming says. “We need them in the ocean.”

Gavin Smith
When he was a part-time musician and graphics student at Savannah College of Art and Design, Gavin Smith (opposite page) felt his creative juices flowing. But upon returning home to Bermuda, he found a disheartening dearth of opportunities to perform. “So my friends and I, we started our own thing,” he says. For nearly a decade, the Chewstick Foundation has hosted Sunday night open-mic sessions that draw everyone from bagpipers and puppeteers to ballet dancers and spoken-word poets. And the group’s Back o’ Town headquarters in Hamilton has attracted a novel blend of blacks and whites. “Bermudians have always been able to work together, but we didn’t play together,” says Smith, the foundation’s executive director, who was honored for his work with a royal visit from Princess Anne in 2011. “The central tenet is simple: Speak your mind. Anything goes and everyone’s welcome.”