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Azorean Pioneers in Canada

The Original Eighteen Pioneers
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Azoreans that embarked on the Saturnia on May 8, 1953

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The Italian Ocean Liner "SATURNIA"

Return to the Azores - 50 Years Later

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A Short History of Portuguese Immigration to Canada

     Portuguese immigration to Canada began in the early 1950's.  There is historical proof that contacts with Canada date back to the late 1400's when Portuguese navigators reached the Atlantic coast.  Although they didn't settle the land, their presence is preserved today in place names along the maritimes of Canada. 
     Official immigration from Portugal to Canada began in 1953 after an agreement between the governments of both countries.  Canada was in need of labourers and began importing men on a trial basis to see if they could adapt to the harsh climate of this land.  Therefore on May 8 1953, 85 men  embarked from Lisbon aboard the Italian ship "Saturnia".   From these, 67 were from continental Portugal and the remaining 18 were from the island of St. Michael's in the Azores.
     They arrived in Halifax on May 13, 1953.  After a few days, they were transferred to their destinations in various parts of Canada to work as labourers in agriculture, dairy farms, mining, the railroads, the lumber industry, services, etc...   Later that year, another group arrived and in subsequent years, men from Madeira Island also ventured into Canada.  
     Today, five decades after ththe arrival of the first immigrants in Canada, we can find Portuguese communities from coast to coast.  A reasonable estimate of luso-canadians would probably be 400,000.
      

Dr. Alzira Serpa Silva at Acorianissima Show
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Four of Pioneers being Honoured in March 2003 with Trip to Azores

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