First official ship bringing Portuguese immigrants to Canada
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I decided to make this site to honor the Portuguese immigrants who were aboard the Saturnia and arrived in Canada on May 13, 1953. I was informed that I can not get the passenger list for this ship as it goes against the Privacy Act. Basically, you are not allowed to get information about a person who is still alive. If I am not mistaken you have to wait 20 years after a person is deceased. If we wait that long our generation will never know who was aboard that ship.

That's why I need your help, if you have any information about the Portuguese passengers of the Saturnia who travelled on May 13, 1953 please send me any information and I will post it on this site.

I have made an individual picture of each Portuguese immigrant. If you recognize anyone tell me the number of the picture and the information you have. Even if you have just the name, it will be a great asset to this site. Let's preserve the memory of those great pioneers.

I counted 77 people on this picture aboard the Saturnia including one child.

Press here to see the full size picture

Picture of the 18 immigrants from the Azores who arrived in the Saturnia in May 13, 1953.
Source of the picture http://azorgoshawk.tripod.com/pioneers/... Title: Azorean Pioneers in Canada

Life aboard the Saturnia

For most travelers this was a time to finally relax. Many of the immigrants were putting long hours in their jobs back home in Portugal to sit and do nothing for the 6 the day boat crossing felt like a short holiday for many. It was also the time when they felt that they were reaching their goal for the “promise land”. No more red tape could prevent them from reaching Canada once they had both feet in the ship.

But there were also some sad times. According to Antonio Sousa. The voyage was very unpleasant for many who felt seasick and there were those who were often crying.” The first 2 days everyone wept. It was enough for one person to start and everybody began to cry”. But he also said “ I wasn’t as upset as the others, because I had enough money to go back home if things didn’t turn out well for me. My only wish was to find a country where I could breathe, because I felt stifled in Portgal.” (Marques and Medeiros, 1980, page 54)

Aboard the boat there was also entertainment. Antonio de Sousa was determined to stop the crying. “ I went to the bar. There was a group of Italians there who were going to join their families in Canada. Very soon others came up and began to dance. a good band was playing, and the beat was fine. I paid bill at the bar a $20 note and received a pile of liras in change. Then I went up to an Italian girl and asked for a dance. She refused at first, so I remained standing at her table to persuade her. After a short time she agreed, and we danced together. Meanwhile I left a pile of lira notes on the table. From that moment the Italians never left me alone, and my Portuguese friends thought I’d lost my head….” For many those few days of hapiness will be short lived once they set foot in their new country. (Marques and Medeiros, 1980, page 55)

From the website of Nuno Miller , I got 4 names of people who were aboard the Saturnia on May 13, 1953 (There is a an audio interview with them). They are:

  • Antonio Sousa
  • Manuel da Silva from Madeira
  • Luis Moura from the Azores
  • Eduardo Mendonça Portugal. I read a quote in a book saying that he arrived in the Nea Hellas a few weeks after the Saturnia ?? The website says that he arrived in May 13. There is a conflict in the dates.(I tend to believe the book because the author spent a lot of time with him.)
  • Sabino Gonçalves Portugal

  • Please send me any information about the passengers [Send me your information and pictures.]
    This information was taken from a few books written about Portuguese in Canada and also from some websites.

  • Antonio do Couto

  • S. Antonio Nordestinho, S. Miguel - Laval, Quebec
    (Azorean Pioneers in Canada Website)
    He was born in 1920. He was 33 years old when he came to Canada. (Diaspora.com)

  • Antonio de Sousa

  • He was a shop-keeper in Portugal. He landed his first job in Labrador. He sold some food items while working there. Later on he opened the first Portuguese convenience store in Toronto and possibly in Canada. The store became a place of gathering for the first immigrants in Toronto. He also rented rooms.(Marques and Medeiros)

  • Afonso Tavares

  • Rabo de Peixe, S. Miguel - Brampton, Ontario (Azorean Pioneers in Canada Website)

  • Alberto Moreira

  • He was born in Arganil in the district of Coimbra in 1933? He is married to Maria Ferreira. He lived and worked mainly in Vancouver and Kitimat. (Diaspora.com)

  • Alvaro Ferreira

  • He was born in Madeira. He had to have special permission to emigrate. He was one of the oldest of the contingent aboard the ship. While growing up, his daughter said that they kept in touch with the other members of the Saturnia who arrived on May 13, 1953. He died in February of 1999. Information provided by his daughter Bela Costa.
    She send me another e-mail here what she said "Dad was from Sao Martinho,Madeira Mom (Deolinda) & I came in 1954. I was 1 year old. My parents had 5 children,four of which are Canadian born.My sister was the 1st girl born in Canada." Thanks for Bela for the important info." One question she has is "Was there any people from Madeira in the Saturnia aboard the ship?". Most people from Madeira came a few weeks later aboard the Nea Hellas. Why was her Dad in the Saturnia? If you know please let me know. Send me an e-mail please. Thanks
  • Armando Vieira

  • Agua de Pau, S. Miguel - Montreal, Quebec (Azorean Pioneers in Canada Website)

  • Bruno Martins

  • He was working in Rimouski for Bertrand et Fils in the spring of 1953. He had been in Quebec only a few days. We can assume he had arrived on the Saturnia. (Marques and Medeiros)

  • Carlos Augusto da Silva
  • (1924-1958)
    He was born in the parish of Murtosa in the Municipality of Esterreja on May 2, 1924. He died in Vancouver of cancer on June 18, 1958. He had only one daughter her name is Dona Maria dos Anjos da Silva. (source: Diaspora.com)

  • Eurico da Silva

  • He was born in Casais Branco, Parish of Atouguia da Baleia, Municipality of Peniche. He is married and he had 2 children. He lives now in Vancouver (Diaspora.com)

    More information about Eurico was sent by his brother Nuno Da Silva:

    My name is Nuno DaSilva I am writhing regarding my brother Eurico DaSilva who came to Canada May-13-1953 on Saturnia with his brother Graciano DaSilva, Graciano moved back to Casais Branco .Sadly Eurico past away March -15-2010 in Vancouver,his funeral was today March-19-2010.

    Best regards

    Nuno DaSilva.

  • Ferreira da Costa

  • He was a Portuguese immigration officer. He traveled with first contingent of Portuguese immigrants and went back to Portugal as soon as his trip was over. On the picture there is a child, it was possibly his own son. (Marques and Medeiros)

  • Francisco Carreiro

  • As told by his son Dan Carreiro: I really believe one of the men in the picture is of my dad.

    He sailed from Sao Miguel in the early 50`s . I also believe there is another man in the picture that I know sailed with my dad. I am waiting for confirmation from their family and once I have it I will forward you his name as well.

    My Fathers name was Francisco Carreiro , he was in Maia and was born 1919. • Picture # 25 white suit !

    I also know that when he arrived in Canada he went to either a farm or a lumber camp! Don’t know any information other than vague memories based on the stories he told me when I was young. He did say he was in Rimouski , but have no idea how or what determined where these men were sent since I know for a fact my dads English or French at that time would have been limited. If you have any more details I would really appreciate it, I am building a family tree and this would be great to have .

    I can also share some of where I know he went but I have no dates and times of is earlier years up until he moved to Montreal where he worked for FW Woolworth as a baker for over 25 years.

    In between Woolworths and arriving in Canada He was in Rimouski ( Lumber and Farming ) Then went to Sudbury mines

    Then Montreal I would say around 1956 or 57 since his 25th year at Woolworth coincides with those dates…..

    I do know that he did have a following of relatives that ended up in Montreal staying with us in the early 60`s that also worked at Woolworths. I suspect he assisted with finding them jobs !

    Dan Carreiro

  • Gilharma Cabral

  • He was on this first ship, he was from Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel, Acores, He was about 23-24 years old on May 13 1953. He went on to live in Montreal, and has since been deceased. He was my fathers first cousin, born around 1930. He was on this Ship Saturina. Thanks to Louis A. Cabral.

  • Graciano Da Silva
  • As told by his brother Nuno DaSilva:

    My name is Nuno DaSilva I am writhing regarding my brother Eurico DaSilva who came to Canada May-13-1953 on Saturnia with his brother Graciano DaSilva, Graciano moved back to Casais Branco .Sadly Eurico past away March -15-2010 in Vancouver,his funeral was today March-19-2010.
  • Jaime Barbosa,

  • Pedreira, S. Miguel - He lives now in Surrey, B.C. (Azorean Pioneers in Canada Website)

  • Joao Martins

  • He was born in the Azores . He worked in Montreal and Sept-Iles for 15 years. He moved to London Ontario where he is living for the last 30 years. (Diaspora.com)

  • Jose B Defrias

  • As told by her daughter ELizabeth A DeFrias:

    My father,Jose B DeFrias, was on this ship. He was born in Sao Miguel, Azores. He was 31 years old. He said that upon his arrival in Halifax he was given Canadian residency and was contracted to work in farms from May - October. He remembers harvesting radish, scallion,carrot, onion,celery and parsley crops. He also worked in Winnipeg as a contractor building the Post Office.

    In Kenora, Ontario he worked in a paper mill. He spent 4 months in Toronto but could not find work. He recalled spending 3 months living on trains with another Azorean man while they desperately searched for work. He also fondly recounted the time he spent with a couple on whose farm he worked. They were very kind to him. The woman put a jar of rhubarb jam on the table each morning and my father loved it. One day while working in the field he came upon what he thought were weeds so...wanting to be diligent... he hoed them down.When the woman came out to the field she cried, "Joe what are you doing??" When he explained she said, "You know that jam you like? That's where it comes from!" My father was mortified at the time but laughed when he told me the story!

    He came to the United States (Massachusetts) in 1957 to visit his uncle. He married an American(my beautiful mother) and had 5 children. He worked in a rubber factory but also farmed his 3 acres of land and sold his vegetables in the front of our house. My father died peacefully in his sleep in March 2010. He told me this story one night at the kitchen table and I scribbled it down.

    ELizabeth A DeFrias

  • Jose Botelho da Silva

  • He lives in Santa Cruz da Lagoa, S. Miguel, Açores. He worked in Northern Quebec for many years. He only lived in Canada for about 9 years before he went back to live in Santa Cruz da Lagoa. (Diaspora.com) S. Braz, S. Miguel - London, Ontario (Azorean Pioneers in Canada Website)

  • Jose Martins

  • He was in Sherbrooke Quebec in May of 1953. He had been in Sherbrooke only a few days . We can assume that he had arrived on The Saturnia the week before. (Marques and Medeiros)

  • Manuel Arruda

  • Born in Remedios da Bretanha in the Azores He left on the 8 of May for Halifax. He had 12 brothers and sisters. He lives in Toronto(Marques and Medeiros)

  • Manuel Pavao,

  • Candelaria, S. Miguel - Kitimat, B.C. (Azorean Pioneers in Canada Website)

  • Manuel de Sousa

  • He was first employed in Rimouski in the spring of 1953. He worked for Bertrand et Fils in the upholstering business. Later on he had his own business in Ottawa. He sold his business and returned to Portugal. (Marques and Medeiros)
    New information: According to Susana de Sousa. Manuel still lives in the Ottawa area. Thanks for the Info.

  • Manuel Trindade

  • Born in Sao Miguel in the Azores He said you needed $200.00 to come in to the country from Portugal. He was married and illiterate when he moved to Canada. Manuel worked in St-Fleuve in a farm and he later worked in the timber industry on the St-Maurice River. (Marques and Medeiros)

  • Manuel Vieira

  • Born in Agua de Pau, Sao Miguel. He was the first man to leave the Halifax Immigration offices on 14 May 1953. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario ( Teixeira da Rosa)

  • Pacifico Pinho

  • He was working in Rimouski for Bertrand et Fils in the spring of 1953. He had been in Quebec only a few days. We can assume he had arrived on the Saturnia. (Marques and Medeiros)

  • Ricardo da Costa
  • from Sao Miguel (Shehla Burney)

  • Vasco Moreira

  • He lives in Fajã de Cima, S. Miguel. He worked in the farms in Quebec. Later on, he also worked in Kitimat. He only stayed five years in Canada. (Diaspora.com)
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Please send me any information about the passengers [Send me your information and pictures.]

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