Last modified: 2012-05-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: new caledonia | mont-dore | crux australis (yellow) | mount (yellow) | waves: 2 (yellow) | wagon (yellow) | swordfish | porpoise |
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Municipal flag of Mont-Dore - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 15 June 2005
The municipality of Mont-Dore (16,370 inhabitants) is one of the
four municipalities forming Greater Nouméa (Nouméa, Mont-Dore, Dumbéa,
Paèta), which group 60% of the population of New Caledonia.
Mont-Dore is named after the Mont Dore mountain (772 m a.s.l. located
south-east of Nouméa.
From 1947 to 1961, Mont-Dore was governed by a Regional Commission; it was succeeded by a Municipal Commission, active from May 1961 to May 1967, when Mont-Dore was eventually confered a full municipal status.
Mont-Dore is located in the southernmost part of the Grande Terre (the main island constituting New Caledonia). The territory of the municipality is divided by the Chaîne, the mountain that divides the island longitudinally and watered by several brooks (locally called creeks) and two big rivers, the Coulée and the Rivière des Pirogues, used in the past to transport lumber. Mont-Dore is one of the largest municipalities in New Caledonia but most of its territory, especially south of the Mont Dore, is uninhabited. The vegetation is poor because of the mining industry. Most of the inhabitants are of European origin, except the three tribes of Ile Ouen, living on Ouen island, Saint-Louis and Conception. Since the end of nickel and chromium extraction, concessions have been granted to natives in order to reclaim the land and to set up market gardens. However, most inhabitants of Mont-Dore work in Nouméa.
The reduction (a place for training natives newly converted to the Roman Catholic religion) of Conception was founded in October 1855 by Father Montrouzier for migrants from Balade and Pouébo and locals from Touho and Wagap. It was the main base for further missionary settlements on the island. The first agricultural trials in New Caledonia were made in Conception, with a coffee plantation, 200 sheep, 20 goats and two oxen. However, the soils were poor and the Saint Louis reduction was set up in 1856, first near the mouth of river Thy, later uphill. Transporting water uphill was tedious and Father Vigouroux, founder of Saint Louis, decided to dig a canal and create a 8 m high waterfall in order to irrigate the plantations located in the plain. A waterwheel, a sawmill and a grainmill were built in Saint Louis in 1862, forming the first industrial center in New Caledonia. Sugarcane plantations and a sugar house were set up in 1868. The factory had several furnaces and five huge boilers placed under a provisory straw roof; a 10 m high square chimney was added to the factory. A rum distillery was opened in 1875. Rice was also grown in Saint-Louis and processed by a hulling mill. Mountain rice initially grown was soon replaced by high-yielding flooded rice, of better quality.
The camp of Prony was opened in 1865 by the penitentiary administration
for the exploitation of lumber, cut and shipped to Nouméa by sea. The
Caledonian Forestry Society was founded in 1900 in order to export the
trees from the Rivière des Pirogues to Australia. From 1900 to 1920,
more than 10,000 cubic meters of woods were exported, especially kaori,
used to make matches.
In 1873, the colonist Pierre Coste found a "green stone" on Mont Dore; the stone was garnierite, that is nickel ore. Nickel was then rare and overpriced; the first nickel mine in Mont-Dore was opened by John Higginson (1839-1904).
The barrage of Yahouè was built in 1875 in order to supply Nouméa with the water from the Rivière de Yahoué. The building of the water main required the digging of a 12 km long trench and was inaugurated on 2 January 1877.
In 1880, prospecting was done everywhere in Mont-Dore. The Lucky-Hitt mine, located near Plum, yielded some 10,000 tons of chromium; from 1883 to the 1900s, cobalt was extracted from the Mont Dore.
The development of Nouméa required more and more building materials. The Imbaut brickyard was built in l'Escale, with two ovens. Bricks stamped "Mont d'Or", of excellent quality, were shipped to Nouméa on barges. The Limousin dairy farm was set up in Pont-des-Français in 1902 and produced up to 120 liters of milk per day. A brewery was opened in La Coulée in 1905.
Ivan Sache, 15 June 2005
The municipal flag of Mont-Dore is white with the municipal arms, as
shown in Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes, 26 January 2001.
The municipal arms of Mont-Dore were adopted by the Municipal Council on 11 December 1984 (Deliberation #53/XII/84). The arms were designed by Municipal Coucillor Marcel Laffont and approved by the National Commission of Heraldry on 12 October 1984.
The flag is used for special occasions; otherwise, it is kept by the Fire Brigade.
The muncipal coat of arms of Mont-Dore blazons as follows:
Coupé, au premier d'azur au mont d'or cantonné des étoiles de la Croix du sud du même, posé sur une mer d'azur ourlée d'argent; au deuxième parti, en I: de sable au wagonnet de mine d'or; en II: de gueules à la hache ostensoir d'or.
The upper part of the shield represents Mont Dore (lit., Gold Mount)
over a blue sea with white waves. The Crux Australis constellation
recalls that the municipality is located at the southern end of New
The lower left part of the shield shows a wagon, recalling that the first nickel mine in New Caledonia was exploited in Mont Dore (then written Mont d'Or) in 1873.
The lower right part of the shield shows a monstrance-axe whose upper part is made of jade from the Ouen island. We suppose that it refers to evangelization of the natives, which started in Mont-Dore.
The supporters are a swordfish and a porpoise, symbolizing sea activities (big-game fishing, tourism...)
The name of the municipality is written in black Capital letters on a yellow scroll placed below the shield.
Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 15 June 2005