A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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EPISODE 22: The Stowaway
Directed by Patricia Fogliato and David Mortin


Antonio da Silva, a 15 year-old Portuguese stowaway arrived in Newfoundland in 1920. He later opened a boarding house that became a home away from home for the famous Portuguese White Fleet.


  • Emigration motivation
  • Belonging
  • Cultural memory


  • Stowaway
  • Portuguese
  • White Fleet
  • Folk Music and Dance


  • To understand the factors contributing to Portuguese immigration to Canada
  • To comprehend the immigrants’ search for a sense of family and community in their new home
  • To appreciate the need for second generation Portuguese Canadians to learn about their family and cultural heritage


  1. Folk music is a big part of Maritime culture. Find five Maritimes folk songs, including one or two from The Stowaway. Write an essay, exploring the lyrics of these songs and what they tell you about Maritimes culture: it’s way of life, aspirations, fears, community.

  2. Immigrants have traditionally brought their own music to Canada, often as a form of comfort and identity. Some of the songs are a longing for home, some express excitement for a new adventure. Their music sometimes pokes fun at their new country, while other times it offers a warning to other immigrants. Research a folk song from five different cultural groups in Canada and create a song book that includes the music, your interpretation of its meaning, and a page on the arrival and experiences of that particular group.

  3. On a map of the world, locate and label Antonio da Silva’s home town in Portugal and his new found home in Newfoundland. Make a chart or write a short essay detailing the similarities Antonio found between the cultures of the Maritimes and his homeland.

  4. Pretend you are Antonio da Silva. Write a few journal entries describing your experiences as a 13-year-old stowaway hiding in the lower deck of a ship. Continue the journal as you land in Newfoundland and try to look for help and a home. Remember to include observations of what must be a very strange land and a very different language.

  5. Research the issue of the fisheries in the history of the Maritimes’ relationship to Portugal and the White Fleet. How were the two interdependent in the early 1900s? What occurred in recent decades to change the relationship? One place to start your research would be at the Scattering of Seeds website (www.whitepinepictures.com). The section on The Stowaway has an article on the Portuguese White Fleet; it is based on a book called Port O’ Call by Priscilla Doel, another good source of information. Research tip: Look in newspapers from the last few years, searching for any articles on the fishing wars, disputes over international waters, and the position taken by the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries.