Life Story for
Titio Joao's Life
Our Titio Joao (Uncle John) was born in Sao Miguel, Azores to a three-generation family household who was involved in Church life in their little village, assisting the priest with making the Eucharist hosts for Mass. Like everyone else in their corner of the island, the family grew and raised almost all of their food, being peasants and subsistence farmers. And like all young men, John was conscripted into the army for when he turned 18. Luckily for him, he only spent a few months in the army as soldiers were not in too much demand at that time since Portugal was at peace and the Portuguese colonies were not yet fighting for their independence (that would happen about 10 years later).
A couple of years after Canada opened its doors to Portuguese immigrants, John was able to emigrate to Canada in 1956 at the age of 24. He spent two months working at a flower farm in Quebec until he heard that there was lots of work and really good pay working on the rails out West. John then spent two years repairing railroad ties for Canadian National (CN) Rail. After spending a furlough in Winnipeg, he decided to put down roots in Winnipeg and worked as a construction worker for 20 years. He was part of the crews that helped build a new wing of the Winnipeg General Hospital and the new Winnipeg City Hall.
Not too long after he came to Canada, he, like many Portuguese immigrants, started sending money back home. First, it was to pay the debts he had from emigrating to Canada, then to help wipe out the debt that the family had back in Sao Miguel simply from not being able to pay for land rental whenever the crop harvests were bad.
As he worked and saved money he did a little bit of travelling; visiting continental Portugal, especially Fatima, which he visited four times, including once with his sister, Maria Jose. Otherwise, he stuck close to home, exploring whichever province he happened to be living in. John enjoyed participating in Church life at the nearest Portuguese parish, both for Sunday Mass and for all the feasts and festivals, particularly the Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo and the Festa do Espirito Santo.
At the urging of his oldest sister, Guilhermina, who wanted to see the family as geographically close together as possible, John moved from Winnipeg to Brampton in 1979. John never married nor had any children, and rented a room or an apartment wherever he was living. When Guilhermina's husband died in 1983, Guilhermina invited John to live as a tenant in her home, given that he was already living right across the driveway at the next-door-neighbour's basement apartment! And there he lived until he moved into Tullamore Nursing Home in 2015. John adjusted quickly and was well-liked by both staff and residents at the home.
Uncle John, thank you for the support that you showed over the years to your family and relatives, whether it was helping to pay the family debt back in the homeland, or in doing things for others, such as giving rides to family and relatives until everyone was able to drive or buy their own car. You are missed!
Love and Peace,