42BOA VINDA A CANADÁ

After World War Two, new industries were luring many young Canadians away from their parents’ farms and into the cities. All over the country, farmers were realizing they needed to find labourers to help keep their farms operating. The Canadian government recognized this problem, and worked with European governments to encourage people to emigrate to Canada. Although immigrants of many nationalities came to Canada during this time, two of the biggest groups to arrive in the Sydenham River watershed were the Portuguese and the Dutch.

Portuguese people in Strathroy have set up many successful businesses, including this bakery...
Portuguese people in Strathroy have set up many successful businesses, including this bakery...
In the 1950s, Portugal was under the dictatorship of Antonio Oliveira Salazar, who became Prime Minister in 1932. During this dictatorship, the Portuguese experienced a lack of freedom, but conditions were especially difficult in the Azores, a group of islands about 1500 km off the coast of mainland Portugal. The Azores were underdeveloped and most Azoreans were involved in subsistence farming. Unemployment was extremely high, and education was unavailable. Speaking out against these conditions was dangerous, given the firm hold Salazar had on the country. So, when Canada began to look for farm and railway labourers in Europe, they recruited actively in the Azores. In fact, 65% of Portuguese immigrants to the Sydenham River area are from the Azores.

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