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PoWI Diaspora - Trinidad & Tobago
The Portuguese of the West Indies

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History and Migration | The West Indies | People and Culture
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

1834 - The Watchful from the Azores, first of four ships (with 44 passengers) arrives in Trinidad on 20 July (first Portuguese to come as labourers in the Caribbean and Guyana)

1834 - The Stralhista from Madeira leaves on 12 November 1834 with 28 passengers (25 males and 3 females from Funchal, Machico, Santa Cruz, Calheta and Porto Santo) bound for Trinidad

1834 - The English ship Eweretta leaves Madeira with 16 ex-prisoners contracted to work in Trinidad from 23 November 1834

1835 - Surviving Azoreans petition twice to return home

1835 - Madeiran migration to the Caribbean and Guyana begins, starting with Guyana (St Vincent follows in 1845 and Antigua in 1846)

1835 - The English ship Portland with 32 passengers (29 males and 3 females) aboard leaves for Trinidad on 11 February 1835

1838 - Dr Robert Reid Kalley and Margaret Kalley of Scotland go to Madeira

1843 - Kalley and Madeiran Presbyterians imprisoned (Kalley for 6 months)

1845 - Presbyterian church of Madeira founded in May

1846 - Senator from Madeira (219 passengers) arrives in Trinidad on 9 May

1846 - Persecutions of Presbyterians reach their height in the months of June to August

1846 - William of Glasgow from Madeira (197 passengers - Presbyterian refugees) arrives on 16 September and are welcomed by the Greyfriars Church of Scotland

1846Lord Seaton from Madeira (200 passengers) arrives on 9 October

1846 - Peru from Madeira (160 passengers - refugees) arrives on 8 November

1846 - Dalhousie from Madeira (216 passengers - refugees) arrives on 13 November

1846 - First Portuguese Shop set up (unknown owner)

1847 - O Ano de Fome - The Year of Hunger, due to the destruction of the potato (semilha) crops by disease, and a drastic drop in wine prices

1847 - Dalhousie from Madeira (267 passengers) arrives on 9 November

1849 - Hundreds of Presbyterians move to Illinois, USA

1852 - Vine disease oidium hits Madeira vineyards

1854 - St Ann's Church of Scotland is built on Charlotte Street (formerly St Ann's Road)

1872 - Vine disease phylloxera hits Madeiran vineyards

1885 - Veneration of Nossa Senhora do Monte at Laventille (beginning of Laventille Devotions)

1886 - Visit of the Princess Aldegonda (Aldegundes) of Portugal

1890 - Manuel Fernandes of Santa Maria Maior, Madeira, establishes his business on Henry Street in POS (father of José Gregorio Fernandes of São Gonçalo, Madeira, and grandfather of J.B. Fernandes, 1903-1992). (The Fernandes label was acquired by Angostura Holdings in 1973.)

1899 - Portuguese Brass Band started

1905 - Grupo Dramático Portuguêz Primeiro de Dezembro, later Associação Portuguesa Primeiro de Dezembro, or Portuguese Association, founded on 16 July.

1910s to 1930s - Almost 600 Madeirans emigrate to Trinidad

1912 - M.A. Silva's (of São Roque, Madeira) Aromatic Bitters gains Diploma of Merit (later produced by Henry Luz of Santa Maria Maior, Madeira)

1913 - Pereira & Co. founded

1914 - João Quintal of São Roque, Madeira establishes one of the earliest Portuguese bakeries (106-108 Coffee Street, San Fernando)

1916 - Henry de Nobriga elected Mayor of Arima

1917 - Feast of Nossa Senhora do Monte celebrated at the Chapel of Our Lady of Exile at Mt St Benedict

1918 - Ernest S. Vieira & Company started

1918 - Tribute paid to the late Solomon dos Santos by Mr F J Maingot, Mayor of Port-of-Spain. Mr dos Santos was an interpreter at the City Magistrate's Court

1919 - Portuguese Association acquired their clubhouse on Richmond Street

1919 - Stained Glass window erected at St Ann's Church of Scotland, called the country's finest work of art

1919 - First bazaar of the Portuguese Association in aid of the Portuguese poor in Trinidad. It was held on 24 December and raised $700. The day before the fair, $240 was cabled to Madeira which had been hard hit because of damage to crops by tornadoes and forest fires.

1921 - Silvestre Severiano Nunes Pereira of Campanário, Madeira establishes his Trinidad-branch confectionery (SSN Pereira Ltd.) - his trademark candy was acquired by KC Confectionery which continues his brand of dinner mints (son, William Pereira, later started Diana Candy).

1926 - Charles Reis publishes a brief history of the Portuguese Association

1927 - Portuguese Club founded on 5 December, headquartered in Queen's Park East

1927 - Port of Spain Gazette publishes a letter to the editor in Portuguese by Eduardo de Sá Gomes of São Pedro, Madeira

1930 - Sá Gomes Radio Emporiums established

1931 - Albert Maria Gomes launches The Beacon, successor of the magazine, Trinidad (the Beacon group included Ralph de Boissière, CLR James, Alfred Mendes and others)

1931 - Camacho Brothers of Santo António, Madeira establish their business

1932 - Henry A. de Freitas elected Mayor of Port-of-Spain

1932 - Crown Bakeries established by José Francisco de Freitas of Santa Cruz, Madeira 

1934 - Portuguese Association receives the Grau de Benemerência: Class Order of Benefactor from the Government of Portugal

1934 - Alfred Hubert Mendes publishes Pitch Lake, a novel about the Portuguese community

1934 - Eduardo de Sá Gomes sends Attila the Hun and Roaring Lion to record in New York City (worked closely with Henry de Freitas who managed The Mighty Sparrow)

1934 - Correia (Trinidad) Ltd. established, with parent company in Guyana, importing wines into Trinidad and bottling them on Chacon Street. Charles Albert Correia began making and storing wines in Trinidad in 1952 at Long Circular Road, later moving to Old St. Joseph Road, Laventille four years later. C.A. Correia passed away in 1967. 

1935 - Sound radio comes to Trinidad via Diego Serrão's home broadcasting station

1938 - George de Nobriga elected to the Legislative Council

1939 - Errol Lionel dos Santos (1890-1992) awarded the CBE 

1939 - Eric Williams marries Elsie Ribeiro, sister of businessman Oscar Ribeiro

1942 - Coelho & Sons established (business owned by João Vieira Coelho of Santa Cruz, Madeira began earlier in 1931), later bought Holsum Baking Co. in 1973 and then acquired by Kiss in 1989

1945 - Charles Reis publishes a history of the Portuguese Association

1945 - Albert Gomes elected to the Legislative Council, winning the seat formerly held by Mayor Arthur Cipriani

1946 - 100th anniversary of the Madeirans in Trinidad

1946 - Albert Gomes elected to the Executive Council

1946 - Errol Lionel dos Santos knighted

1947 - Sir Errol Lionel dos Santos promoted to Colonial Secretary

1947 - George M. Cabral elected Mayor of Port-of-Spain

1947 - Charles Gomes Netto elected Mayor of Arima

1947 - Noble Marquez founds Trinidad and Tobago Electrical Contractors Ltd. (TATEC)

1948 - Isabella Ribeiro de Cabral de Freitas of Trinidad obtains her pilot's licence (first female pilot in the English-speaking Caribbean)

1948 - Monica Estella Ferreira (née Pereira), with the help of Miss Coelho, launches the first Children's Carnival band to parade on stage in Jaycees Carnival - Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (other bands followed in later years Portuguese Peasants, and Portuguese Fishermen, portrayed by 30 children of various backgrounds, mainly Portuguese)

1950 - Albert Gomes, de facto Chief Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, and Minister of Labour, Industry and Commerce

1950s - Mr Fabian J. Camacho, magistrate

1950 - Hi-Lo Food Stores Ltd. established (formerly the Ice-House Grocery, then Fernandes (1933) Ltd.)

1951 - Albert Gomes helps to bring freedom to the Shouter Baptists, earlier asking the Legislative Council to appoint a committee to look into a repeal of the 1917 Shouters Prohibition Ordinance which denied Shouter Baptists freedom of religious expression for 34 years. Gomes also supported the Steelband movement and Calypso.

1952 - John (João) Ernesto Ferreira Jr. invents double seconds and double tenor pans. J. Ernest Ferreira founded the Boys from Iwo Jima Steelband in 1947, Melody Makers in 1949, and Dixieland Steel Orchestra in 1950, the first sponsored steelband - Jeffrey's Beer (from the agents Grell & Co and promoted Landy de Montbrun), winning the 1960 Music Festival Winner with Agnus Dei and Estudiantina. Dixieland saw several offshoots, such as Highlanders (founded by Kim Loy Wong), Tropitones (Mosca brothers), and Dixie Stars. When Dixie Stars came to an end, most of the members became part of Silver Stars.

1952 - Colin Frank Agostini (Govia) is part of the first ever Trinidad and Tobago football team to tour England, at the age of 19 (the youngest on the team).

1953 - On Sunday 26 July 1953, at 4:00 p.m. the Solemn Blessing by the Archbishop Finbar Ryan took place of the new life-size statue of Our Lady of Fatima, a gift from an anonymous Portuguese benefactor of the Monastery, in a fulfilment of a promise made to Our Lady. The statue was the third of its kind in the world (the other two being in Lisbon and Brazil), carved from cedar wood in the ateliers of Maias Brothers, Portugal; it took the artist - Amálio Maia - nine months to complete. The entire height of the statue is a little more than six feet (6.88) which includes a pedestal of the top of the oak-tree on which Our Lady appeared at the Cova da Iria, and the cloud that surrounded her feet. The figure itself is 5.41 feet in height and richly decorated with precious stones. Before the ceremony His Grace had tea at the Guest House with some Portuguese Catholics from Port of Spain.

1954 - 100th anniversary of the St Ann's Church of Scotland

1954 - Michael George Raymond Agostini (Govia) becomes the country’s first British Empire and Commonwealth Games sprint gold medallist (Vancouver, B.C. Canada 1954)

1956 - J. Ernesto Ferreira Jr. founds the National Racing Pigeon Commission of T&T

1959 - Jimo Fernandes is appointed to the post of Postmaster General of T&T. From 1928 to 1942, Fernandes was a Clerk, General Post Office (GPO), then promoted to Senior Clerk in 1944, becoming Head Postmaster in 1955, elevated to Deputy Postmaster General in 1958, before serving the nation as Postmaster General in 1959 until 1963.

1960 - Joseph (Joey) Nunes wins the Milo-Madonna round-the island cycle race at age 17, being the youngest rider to have won such a race to-date (and still a successful competing Master's category cyclist at age 68)

1962 - Ignatius Ferreira becomes the first local Managing Director of the Trinidad Trading Co. Ltd. (TTCL, later becoming Furness Trinidad Ltd. in 1976); Ferreira is the son of Silvano Ferreira (born in São Roque, Madeira, on 7 July 1885) and Arcenia Maria Gomes (b. 24 January 1897)

1968 - Portuguese Magnolias Hockey Club founded, now Shandy Carib Magnolias

1968 - Geoffrey Ferreira, T&T's representative at the Mexico City Olympic Games (Swimming); set CAC record of 1:02.2 in the butterfly swimming record over 100 metres

1969 - Roger (Gomez Sheppard) Gibbon awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Silver) for Athletics - Cycling (with many accomplishments starting at age 17)

1969 - Carlton Kenneth Anthony Gomes (1928-2003), was first appointed to the Senate in October 1969 as a Parliamentary Secretary, and becomes Minister of Education in 1970, a post he holds until 1976

1972 - Gene E. Miles, b. 1930 (granddaughter of John Teixeira), who revealed the Gas Station Racket, passes away

1972 - Geoffrey Ferreira, T&T's representative at the Munich Olympic Games (Swimming)

1972 - Alfred Mendes awarded honorary doctorate (DLitt honoris causa) from The University of the West Indies, St Augustine

1972 - Peter Carvalho awarded the Public Service Medal of Merit (Silver) for Carnival Development

1972 - Harold (Sally) Saldenah/Saldenha awarded the Public Service Medal of Merit (Silver) for Carnival Development

1973 - Edmond G. (D'Olliviera) Hart awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Gold) for Carnival Development

1973 - Ferreira Optical founded by Mervyn Ferreira

1974 - Albert Gomes publishes his autobiography, Through a Maze of Colour

1975 - Charles de Freitas awarded Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold)

1975 - Christine Mary (de Silva) Jackson, Trinidad & Tobago's representative, at Miss Universe wins Miss Amity

1976 - Hugh Ferreira awarded Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold)

1976 - Ignatius Severiano Ferreira succeeds Charles Gomes Netto (former Mayor of Arima) as President of the Portuguese Association (until 2006)

1977 - Media Sales Ltd. started by Chris Ferreira

1978 - Albert Gomes publishes All Papa's Children, a novel about the Portuguese community

1978 - Lady Enid dos Santos awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) for Voluntary Social Work

1980 - Maria Nunes awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) for Sport

1980 - Ignatius Ferreira awarded Humming Bird Medal (Silver) for Community Service

1980 - Ignatius Ferreira becomes the Chairman of Furness Trinidad Limited

1984 - 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Azoreans in Trinidad (first Portuguese labourers to come anywhere in the Caribbean)

1985 - Ignatius Ferreira succeeds JT Gonsalves as Honorary Consul of Portugal (to the present)

1985 - Carl de Souza (half brother of Carl de Souza, Customs Officer, sons of Henrique Polycarpo de Souza) inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Weightlifting); a Pan-American silver medallist at the 1951 Games at Buenos Aires

1985 - Roger P. Gibbon inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Cycling)

1985 - Hilary (Larry) Angelo Gomes inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Cricket)

1985 - Gerald (Gerry) Gomez inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Cricket)

1985 - Compton Gonsalves inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Cycling). Mr Gonsalves was the founder of the T&T Cycling Federation.

1985 - Joey Gonsalves inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Football)

1985 - Gerard Ian Jardine inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Hockey)

1987 - Sir Errol dos Santos inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Administration)

1987 - Furness Trinidad Limited (formerly Furness  Withy & Co.) now 100% locally owned, with Ignatius Ferreira being the main shareholder.

1988 - Maria Mónica Reis Pestana of Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, Madeira, later of St Joseph and Mt Lambert, self publishes her memoirs, Travelling Memories with Jokes and Tips from 1910 to 1984, under the name of Monica Ries; also started a book on Old Portuguese Love Songs

1989 - Fr John Mendes, son of João Mendes of Ponta de Sol, Madeira, ordained Bishop of Port-of-Spain on 6 January

1990 - Celestine de Freitas retired as Principal of the Holy Family Private School

1991 - Ignatius Ferreira receives the Grau de Comendador: Class Order of Commander from the Government of Portugal

1991 - Sr Paul (Gloria) D'Ornellas awarded Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold) for Education, founder of the Foundation for Human Development (later celebrates her diamond jubilee in August 2014, having entered religious service in 1954)

1991 - David (Pestana) King, archery coach, founding president of the T&T Target Archery Federation

1992 - Hilary (Larry) Angelo Gomes awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Silver) for Sport

1992 - June Rita Gonsalves awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) for Community Service

1994 - Gerry Rodrigues becomes World Masters Open Water Champion in Montréal, Canada

1994 - Dr Alvro Camacho, b. 1927, passes away. He had the largest private practice of paedriatric endocrinology in the USA, and was listed in the Who's Who in America. He was the son of Lewis and Hilda Camacho, and was the brother of Gloria C. Mendes, Lewis F. Camacho and Dr James E. Camacho.

1994 - Jo-Anne Ferreira publishes The Portuguese of Trinidad and Tobago: Portrait of an Ethnic Minority (thesis completed later in 1999); descended from the Vasconcellos de Souzas of Machico

1995 - Marjorie Paddy Fernandes-Williams inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Hockey)

1995 - Robert Ames sets golf record at Palmas del Mar

1996 - 150 years of the Madeiran presence in Trinidad

1996 - Gerard Ferreira elected Mayor of San Fernando (demitted office in 2003)

1999 - Mary Jane Gomes screens Angel in a Cage, a film about the Portuguese community

2000 - Debra O'Connor, granddaughter of João Mendes of Ponta de Sol, Madeira, inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Badminton)

2000 - Gene Samuel, grandson of Albino João/John of São Roque, Madeira, inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (Cycling)

2000 - Silvano Gomes Ralph inducted into the T&T Sports Hall of Fame (All Rounder)

2000 - Anthony (Camacho) Milne's Portuguese story, Winter Wonderland: Letter Home from JB de Callao, is published

2002 - The Autobiography of Alfred Mendes 1897-1991 is edited by Michele Levy and published by UWI Press. Two other books follow.

2002 - BC Pires, one of three West Indians, included in Guha's The Picador Book of Cricket (the other two were CLR James and VS Naipaul), celebrating the finest writers of cricket literature

2003 - Cecilia Salazar, great-granddaughter of António and Virginia Coelho of Madeira, wins Cacique Award for Most Outstanding Actress (and other awards in following years)

2004 - Stephen (Pereira) Ames awarded Chaconia Gold Medal (Golf)

2004 - Carl de Souza (former Customs Officer) posthumously awarded the Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold)

2005 - On 11 May, Charles Vernon Pereira passed away in England; he was the first President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and was also a President of the Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Commerce. He served for many years on the Finance Committee of The University of the West Indies, and was also President of the Employers' Consultative Association. He served with distinction in the Royal Air Force during World War II, and was the recipient of the highest award of the Royal Air Force, the distinguished Flying Cross and Bar. He was a well-known businessman who served with distinction on the boards of many companies. He was the husband of Elsie and father of Peter and Frances.

2008 - Gabrielle (De Freitas) Walcott, representing Trinidad & Tobago, is 2nd runner up at Miss World

2008 - John (João) Ernesto Ferreira inducted into the Sunshine Awards Hall of Fame (Steelband Music)

2008 - Alicia (Ferreira) Milne screens her short student film Luso Trinidad: Home in the Land of the Homeless, and also conducts The Calvinadage Project

2011 - Hayden Ferreira selected as one of 50 distinguished alumni of UWI, St Augustine

2011 - Trinidad Guardian Special Publications Unit, headed by Tracey Alonzo, publishes supplement on the 165th Anniversary of the Madeiran Portuguese in Trinidad & Tobago, coordinated and edited by Jo-Anne S. Ferreira, on 10 June, Day of Camões, Portugal and Portuguese Communities

2012 - Guyana-born international musician Dennis de Souza passes away (father of Rhonda de Souza, a singer, who passed away in 2000).

2014 - Greyfriars Church of Scotland hall is demolished in December, with only some remnants of the church building standing; the St Ann's Church of Scotland restoration project was completed and commemorated in April of the same year.

National awards also went to Ovid Owen Fernandes, Rupert Mendes, Neville Miranda, Nora Florence Franco, Raymond "Atilla" Quevedo, Augustine "Rock" Ribeiro, and Rene Serrao. Sports figures include David King, Silvano Gomes Ralph, Matthew Nunes, Carlton Franco, and Ryan Mendes. Other sportsmen include Lio de Freitas, Lester Gomes (tennis), Randy Gomes (cricket) and Sheldon Gomes (cricket). Singers and composers include Lord Executor (Philip Garcia), Stephen Ferreira, Marcia Miranda, Gaston Nunes and others. Gene Miles was also of Portuguese descent. The doctors, lawyers, soldiers, entrepreneurs, beauty queens, etc., are too numerous to count here, and the honorary consuls are listed in Ferreira 1994. Click for more information on the Portuguese in business. Any omission is unintended and inadvertent.

For greater accuracy, please send all corrections and omissions to jsferreira (a)

(c) Jo-Anne S. Ferreira

9 May 2011