A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History

LEGACY

Antonio da Silva found remarkable similarities between his Portuguese heritage and the people of Newfoundland. Both cultures were closely tied to the sea, both were deeply rooted in Catholicism. Both shared a love for fold music and dance. By the late 1920s, Antonio had made himself quite at home. He married a young girl, Mary Slaney, who had also lost her father at sea. Together the raised seven children.

The home was the centre of the Portuguese lifestyle and cultural identity, or "Portuguesismo" as it is known. The Portuguese are a people intensely aware of their cultural identity: a complex mix of attitudes, sensibilities, values and customs of language, literature and music. The strength of this identity is said to have slowed down the process of their integration, particularly for the working class. In a 1973 issue of Weekend Magazine, an article by Joan Nankivell proclaimed in its headline that, "They never really left home: in Toronto 75,000 Portuguese have created a community that is as much Portugal as it is Canada".(20)

One of the most pronounced Portuguese contributions to Canada are the restaurants that serve their distinctive ethnic cuisine. In Toronto, these restaurants specialize in chicken grilled in the Portuguese manner: rotisserie roasted and then marinated in a sweet or hot piri-piri sauce (The Portuguese are famous for their chicken, a delicacy dating back to an ancient Portuguese folkloric legend of the rooster. The image of the black rooster with a red craw is a distinctive Portuguese image commonly displayed in the decor of restaurants.) Other Portuguese specialities include proco à tejano, a combination of pork and clams, and many forms of dried cod. Wherever Portuguese communities form, streets lined with fish markets, sausage shops, butchers and groceries inevitably follow.(21)

Despite the commitment of the early Portuguese Canadian communities to maintain their Portuguesismo or "Portugueseness", rivalries tracing back to their region and class of origin in Portugal prevented a cohesive community wide effort of cooperation. The first generation's recreational activities were sponsored by clubs associated with particular parish congregations or political parties. Cultural life was made up of popular entertainment events such as soccer matches, dances, picnics and music. Most first-generation children attended social activities in Portuguese. But this was not the case for subsequent generations of Canadian-educated children, though formal studies in Portuguese cultural heritage and language are currently provided in after-hours schools and in various universities across Canada.(22)

Portuguese music has been a valuable addition to the Canadian tradition of folk singing. Portuguese songs often express experiences of an individual's situation in the world. The most famous form of Portuguese singing is fado, the word fado meaning fate. Fados are usually nostalgic and sad songs sung to guitar accompaniment.

One famous fado title is "Lisboa Antiga", describing the former splendours of the Portuguese capital. There are also many "fado do emigrant", which tell of a person yearning for his distant family and loved one.(23) Those were the fado Antonio da Silva would have sung, nostalgic for the family he left behind in Portugal and with whom he never again was in touch.

Footnotes:
1,6,810,19,22
The 1998 Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1998).

2,5,9,20,21,23
A Future to Inherit, The Portuguese Communities of Canada, by Grace M. Anderson and David Higgs
(McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1976).

3,4,7,11,12,18
A Canadian Profile: Toronto's Portuguese and Brazilian Communities
(Portuguese Interagency Network, Toronto, 1995).

13,14,15,16,17
Portuguese Immigrants, 25 Years in Canada, by Domingos Marques and Joao Medeiros
(Portuguese Community Movement, Toronto, 1978).


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