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David J Grenier Fine Art Photography

A Short History of Grenier Road, Colombo, October 2015

Some of my family and friends are aware that I have been working on republishing my father's book of short stories entitled 'Isle of Eden'. To that end I have been working with a Mr. Sam Perera of Perera-Hussein Publishing (www.pererahussein.com) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, who has been a friend and supporter of this project for some time now, and did a great job proof reading the final manuscript for me. I informed Sam that I would be visiting Sri Lanka in August and would like to meet and have lunch with him when I got to Colombo. He accepted my invitation and wrote back 'You probably know there is a street in Colombo that carries your last name. Probably an illustrious ancestor.' I did not know, nor was my family aware of the existence of Grenier Road when we lived in Colombo in the early '50s, so I was delighted to locate and visit the street that carries my family name with my travel companions and cousins Michael and Sharlene Roosmale-Cocq on September 3, 2015, where the photograph below was taken.

The sign is written in Sinhalese, Tamil and English, in descending order. As an aside, I look back in amazement that several years of my schooling outside of Colombo was done completely in the Sinhala language, which I spoke fluently and wrote proficiently/daily in the beautiful characters of the Sinhalese alphabet, as seen below.

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Coincidentally I also came to realize that I was born at De Soysa Maternity Hospital, less than a quarter mile from this sign, which helped prompt me to ask the obvious question 'who was the street named after?', and the follow up to that, 'was this an illustrious ancestor?'. While in Colombo during the last days of our visit I did some research via Google to no avail. Michael picked up the research when he got back to Australia and discovered the following information - Grenier Road was named in 1886 after the first secretary of the Colombo Municipal Council - Sir Samuel Grenier.

I was excited, to say the least, when I received this information and immediately went to a comprehensive copy of my family genealogy to discover that, Sir Samuel Grenier was my great, great, grandfather’s elder brother!

A brief synopsis of the illustrious Samuel Grenier's life - Sir John Samuel Charles Grenier, born 16 June 1840 in Jaffna, Northern Province, Ceylon; died 31 October 1892 in Colombo, Western Province, Ceylon.

Samuel had high intellectual gifts and was appointed Headmaster of the Central School when only 20 years of age. On traveling to Colombo he gained a job as sub-editor of a newspaper 'The Examiner', while continuing his legal studies until in 1864 when he passed the Advocate examinations. He next became the first Secretary of the Colombo Municipal Council, age 24.

In 1876 he was offered and accepted an appointment to the Supreme Court Bench. He eventually went on to be appointed Attorney General of Ceylon, receiving his Knighthood in 1891 from the Queen of England, Her Royal Majesty Queen Victoria, a year before his passing,

Gives new meaning to the phrase 'its a small world'.................

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