Celebration of Portuguese Heritage Act, 2001
S.O. 2001, CHAPTER 22
Consolidation Period: From December 5, 2001 to the e-Laws currency date.
Portugal played a pioneering and leading role in the discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries that contributed to the passing from an age of closed worlds into an age of space exploration.
In the 15th century, Prince Henry of Portugal, better known as Prince Henry the Navigator, established a school of navigation in Sagres, in the Algarve region of Portugal and set the stage for the great feats of Portuguese navigators and explorers. They included Bartolomeu Dias who explored the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, Vasco da Gama who discovered a sea route to India, Gaspar Corte Real who explored Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, Pedro Alvares Cabral who discovered Brazil and Magellan who circumnavigated the earth.
Gaspar Corte Real, together with Giovanni Caboto, was one of the earliest discoverers of Canada. His work heralds Canada’s beginnings as a multicultural nation. In the year 1500, Gaspar Corte Real received a charter from King Manuel of Portugal to discover and claim jurisdiction over lands in the New World. Corte Real left Portugal and reached North America in 1501. He explored the northeast coast of “Terra Nova” or Newfoundland and named Conception Bay and Portugal Cove. He sailed up the coast of Labrador and named the land Labrador, which means “farmer” in Portuguese, in honour of John “the farmer” who was one of the Portuguese explorers credited with being the first explorer to land in Labrador. Newfoundland and Labrador are described in old cartography as the “Land of Corte Real”.
The year 2001 marks the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Portuguese explorers in Canada. For the past 500 years, people of Portuguese heritage have settled and made their homes in Canada. When mail service was first established in Canada in 1693, it was a Portuguese man, Pedro da Silva, who transported and delivered mail by canoe between Montreal and Quebec City. Portuguese fishermen started fishing cod off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1504 and have continued to do so for 500 years. On Vatican Fresco Map 1556, the northern part of Labrador is described as “Bacalhaos”, the Portuguese word for cod. Even today, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have fond memories of the Portuguese White Fleet of the 1930s.
The Portuguese Canadian community is a vibrant community in Ontario and continues to make many significant contributions to our society and to enrich it with its history, language, culture and work ethic.
The month of June and the day of June 10, in particular, have always been a great time of celebration by the Portuguese community. The celebrations honour the life of Luis de Camoes and his famous epic poems, the Lusiads, with cultural performances, history seminars, poem recitals, street parades, and many other activities. The Lusiads are epic poems narrating the history of Portugal up to and including the era of the discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries. June 10 is the anniversary of the death of Luis de Camoes.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
1. June 10 in each year is proclaimed as Portugal Day. 2001, c. 22, s. 1.
Portuguese History and Heritage Month
2. The month of June in each year is proclaimed as Portuguese History and Heritage Month. 2001, c. 22, s. 2.
3. Omitted (provides for coming into force of provisions of this Act). 2001, c. 22, s. 3.
4. Omitted (enacts short title of this Act). 2001, c. 22, s. 4.