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165th Anniversary of the Madeiran Portuguese in Trinidad & Tobago
Antigua & Barbuda | Barbados | Curaçao | Guyana | Jamaica | St. Kitts-Nevis | St. Vincent & the Grenadines | Trinidad & Tobago

by Jo-Anne S. Ferreira
Coordinator and Guest Editor for the Guardian 165th Supplement

"E se mais mundo houvera, lá chegara,"
("And if there had been more of the world, they would have reached it")
said Luí­z Vaz de Camões (Os Lusí­adas VII, 14), writing about the 15th-century Portuguese explorers

As of 9 May 2011, Madeiran Portuguese and Madeiran descendants in Trinidad & Tobago can look back on 165 years of the Madeiran Portuguese presence in this country. We recognise this anniversary on 10 June, the "Day of Camões, Portugal and Portuguese Communities," a holiday in Portugal and recognised worldwide wherever Portuguese have settled.

I am pleased to have worked with the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian, and would like to publicly and especially thank Tracey Alonzo, and Lisa Jessamy and Cherry Antoine. It was a delight to coordinate a number of contributions, Trinidadian and Madeiran, each with their own unique and interesting perspective. Thank you to all our writers and supporters (see below) for their enthusiastic and timely responses.

The following contributors kindly responded to my invitations. We are particularly pleased to bring greetings from Dr João Alberto Jardim, President of (the Autonomous Region of) Madeira; from the Ambassador of Portugal, His Excellency Mário A. Lino da Silva, based in Caracas; from Dr Luis Ritto, University professor in Brussels and former EU Ambassador, with an overview of Portuguese emigration to the Caribbean region; Dr Fátima Barros, Director of the Regional Archives of Madeira on doing genealogical research in Madeira and online; Dr Alberto Vieira, Director of the Centre for Studies of the History of the Atlantic (CEHA); Rev Jorge Gameiro of the Presbyterian Church of Madeira; and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, based in Port-of-Spain. Luis Sidónio de Castro of Madeira (cousin of the San Fernando Xaviers) was instrumental in contacting the office of the President of Madeira and Rev Gameiro. With the help of Dr David Rampersad, I was able to contact Her Excellency Ambassador Razia Ali and her staff who in turn kindly contacted His Excellency Ambassador da Silva in Caracas.

Our local contributors include Abbot John Pereira of Mt St Benedict, Rev Clifford Rawlins of the Church of Scotland (both clerics descended from Portuguese of Madeira writing about their respective denominations), Gérard A. Besson on Albert Gomes, J. Wayne Quintal on the San Fernando Portuguese, Roger A. Camacho, President of the Portuguese Association of Richmond Street, Janine Mendes-Franco on Bishop John Mendes, and myself writing on the cultural contributions of our Madeirans and descendants, with a timeline, a bookshelf and surnames of the Portuguese experience in Trinidad & Tobago. Herman Rodrigues Jnr and Angelo Bissessarsingh also kindly provided images of businesses, the latter from his Virtual Museum of Trinidad & Tobago.

My heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed to recording and preserving our national heritage over the years: my parents and grandparents and family (the Tobago de Freitases and "Picton Street Ferreiras" and Sabino de Souzas), all forebears (including my maternal great-great-grandfather, editor Samuel Carter of Scarborough and San Fernando), the gracious time and help of all interviewees, Madeirans here and in Madeira, Gérard Besson, friends, colleagues and fellow Trinbagonians. 

We invite you to read and enjoy this exciting compilation of perspectives by and about Portuguese and Portuguese descendants and friends. Parabéns - congratulations, T&T!

Links to articles :

  • Barros, Fátima. The Regional Archives of Madeira and the 165th Anniversary Celebrations of the Arrival of the First Madeirans in Trinidad
  • Besson, Gérard A. Albert Gomes
  • Camacho, Roger A. Associação Portuguesa Primeiro de Dezembro
  • Fernandes, Joseph E. Fernandes Fine Wines and Spirits: A Century of Trinidadian Tradition
  • Ferreira, Jo-Anne S. Behind the Scenes: The Portuguese Cultural Contribution to Trinidad & Tobago
  • Ferreira, Jo-Anne S. Some Highlights of the Portuguese Experience in Trinidad & Tobago: A Timeline
  • Gameiro, Jorge. The "Bible Readers" of Madeira
  • Gullickson, Thomas E. Best Wishes to the Portuguese Community
  • Jardim, Alberto João Cardoso Gonçalves. Message from the President of the Regional Government of Madeira
  • Pereira, John. The Contribution of the Portuguese to the Roman Catholic Church in Trinidad & Tobago 
  • Quintal, J. Wayne. The Early Portuguese Immigrants in the San Fernando Area: Another Ingredient in the Trini Pot
  • Rawlins, Clifford R.L. The Portuguese Presbyterians
  • Ritto, Luis. An Overall Historical Perspective of the Portuguese in the Caribbean
  • Silva, Mário Lino da. Message from the Ambassador of Portugal to Venezuela and Trinidad & Tobagos
  • Vieira, Alberto. Madeira - Islands of Arrivals and Departures
  • Greetings and Advertisements:

  • Caribbean Insulation Services Ltd. (CISL)
  • Centre for Language Learning (CLL) and Caribbean Interpreting and Translation Bureau (CITB)
  • Citizen Security (673 7601)
  • Colleen's We Do (222 9347)
  • D2F
  • Ernesco
  • Fernandes Fine Wines and Spirits
  • Future Foods (351 5362)
  • Guardian Holdings
  • Honorary Consulate of Portugal
  • John Dickinson
  • MindVision
  • Peeping Fish (Retailers of Havaianas)
  • Paragon Protection (paragon_protection@tstt.net.tt/673 7600)
  • Paria Publishing
  • Reader's Bookshop
  • Robard Insurance Services (777 3036)
  • Republic Bank, and
  • Trinidad Cement Ltd. (TCL)
  • Photo Credits:

  • Dr Fátima Barros - photo and one of the Madeiran Regional Archives
  • Gérard A. Besson - 3 photos of Albert Gomes and family
  • Angelo Bissessarsingh - Pereira & Co. and JF Reis' advertisement (back page)
  • Roger A. Camacho - photo (page 3)
  • J.S. Ferreira - Maria Monica Reis Pestana of Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, Madeira with her grapevine in Mt Lambert, Trinidad (front page)
  • Sr Paul d'Ornellas - photo
  • Diana Gomes-Rodak - Garlic Pork (front page and page 6)
  • Janine Mendes-Franco - Bishop John Mendes
  • Brian Ng Fatt - Associação Portuguesa Primeiro de Dezembro, Trinidad (page 3)
  • J. Wayne Quintal - 3 photos of da Silva family, Sardinha family and immigrants on a lime
  • Design/Layout:

  • Denise Baptiste
  • Karen Orosco-Huggins
  • Sean Simon

  • Original Cover

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    © J.S. Ferreira 2011

    9 May 2011 (published in the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian 10 June 2011)