Joe, aka Marion Barbara Carstairs also came to be known as “The Queen of Big Whale Cay”. She was born to a wealthy family, was an enemy of current traditional conventions and a true eccentric. Her life led her from boarding school to war action as an ambulance driver and later she pursued her infatuation with “speed” by becoming a motorboat racing driver, ultimately being recognized as the “fastest woman on water”. After some failures in this last endeavor, The Queen of Big Whale Cay spent several years commissioning surveys to identify the ideal island. The ideal location, exceptional topography and great resources all pointed to one perfectly situated cay in the Berry Islands…..Whale Cay.
With a team of 273 Bahamians, Joe Carstairs developed the island into an extensive complex which included many buildings, some which still exist today, such as:
- The Great House - complete with tennis facility, swimming pool and museum.
- Historic Village - which began with only a store, but later grew to accommodate over 500 complete with residences, school and a radio station.
- Church - She instructed for a church to be erected, installed a minister therein and mandated that all those living together be married immediately.
- Doll House - A seaside cottage constructed for actress Marlene Dietrich, a frequent celebrity guest to the island.