The Portuguese community has two regional street signs: Portugal Village and Rua Açores
How, when and why did it come to pass that the Portuguese community has two regional street signs: Portugal Village and Rua Açores? —Emanuel da Silva, Rexdale
It might seem like a case of inter-regional jealousy, but to a surprising extent, Toronto’s Azorean community is its Portuguese community. The majority of the GTA’s burgeoning Portuguese population (estimates peg it at more than 400,000) can trace its ancestry to the tiny mid-Atlantic islands. The two major Portuguese festivals that erupt on Toronto’s streets—the springtime Christ of Miracles festival and the summer Senhor Da Pedra festival—come from the Azores, too, and coincide with their counterparts in the old country. How did this happen? Well, simple proximity helped; Azoreans have been moving to the United States for two centuries, beginning in the days of the whaling ships they helped crew. By the time Canada opened its doors to the first sizable group of Portuguese immigrants in 1953, the American dream had taken root in the minds of Azoreans. With so many countrymen in the States, it only made sense to try the place next door. Fast forward to 1986, when Little Portugal, which runs along Dundas between Markham and Grace, was designated at the request of the local business improvement area. The very next year, the community petitioned the city to add Rua Açores, which continues west to Dufferin. The two have happily bumped along together ever since.