Journalist & Photographer
Born in Faro.
Lived in Franz and Sault Ste. Marie.
Based in Toronto.
I believe that my experiences of being an immigrant and the hardships that we endured, I bring that to my reporting, to my compassion and the way I look at things. I think it made me a better person and a better reporter – Dale Brazão.
Dale Brazão is a retired investigative journalist and photographer with the Toronto Star, where he worked for forty years. More than the multiple journalism awards he received throughout his career, Dale’s most prized reward are the stories he wrote that led to positive changes in people’s lives that . Much of his journalism reflected on the lives of working-class immigrants. An immigrant himself, from Faro, Algarve, Dale is the first Portuguese reporter to work on a major Canadian news outlet.
Idalécio “Dale” Brazão was born in 1951 in Faro, the capital of the Algarve region in southern mainland Portugal. His mother, Maria Ana, was a public school teacher. His father, José Rodrigues, worked as a police officer for fourteen years before emigrating to Canada in 1958, leaving behind the Salazar dictatorship in search of a better life for his family. One of the thousands of workers to arrive in Canada under the bulk order labour migration agreement between the governments of Portugal and Canada, José worked in various seasonal jobs, including in uranium mines of Elliot Lake, 160 km west of Sudbury. After two years, he found a permanent job in the small town of Franz, in northeastern Ontario. There he worked alongside three Italian immigrants maintaining the tracks of the Algoma Central & Hudson Bay Railway. The hamlet had no running water or electricity, and food had to be imported by train. José endured hardship, loneliness, and long hours of hard work under harsh temperatures (up to -40 °C) before sending for his family. Idalécio, his younger brother Victor, and their mother joined José in Franz in October 1961.
Life in Franz was hard for the Brazão family, who were among the very few non-Indigenous or Métis residents in this small community, where Dale remembers being ostracized and bullied. In 1964, after spending a two-holiday in Sault Ste. Marie, Maria refused to return to Franz, about 315 km north. The family bought a house next to the Algoma Steel Plant where Dale, his brother and mother lived, while José stayed in Franz, holding on to his permanent job. His father joined them several years later, where he worked for the city, the steel plant, and several construction companies.
In 1972, Dale began his journalism degree at Carleton University in Ottawa. Months before graduating, in May 1976, he was given a summer internship opportunity with the Toronto Star. He noted that there were no reporters in mainstream Canadian media who could speak Portuguese and that he could be an asset for the Star, having greater access to Portuguese community spaces, people, and stories. On December 6, Dale was offered a full time job with that newspaper as an investigative reporter and photojournalist.
Over his forty-year career, Dale wrote many front cover stories about events in Canada and other parts of the world, including the Cambodian refugee crisis in 1980; the capture of Panama’s Manuel Noriega by the U.S. Army in 1990; Princess Diane’s death and funeral in 1997; the Kosovo War in 1998-9; the earthquake in Turkey in 1999; the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City in 2001; among others. Some of Dale’s stories generated a great deal of public attention and had a tremendous impact not only on the lives of the individuals featured in them but also Canadian society at large. Some led to changes in government policy or the founding of lasting organizations. Among these was his undercover investigation of the horrible living conditions at a for-profit nursing home, which resulted in Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty postponing his retirement to pass legislation addressing the issues he reported on. Dale’s reporting on the saga of Herbert Quinones Jr. (“Baby Herbie”) resulted in the latter being brought from New York to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for a life-saving operation. This story contributed to the founding of the Herbie Fund, which has funded life-saving operations for more than 800 children from more than 100 countries. Another major year-long investigation exposed the exploitation of Filipino caregivers in Canada under the temporary migrant worker program, which led to legislation at both the Provincial and Federal levels. During this investigation, Dale met his partner Alma, a Filipino immigrant.
A significant part of his reporting referred to Portuguese immigrants and their communities in Canada, where he mostly exposed injustices, exploitation, and illegal activities committed by or to its members. One of his first reporting about Portuguese-Canadians was the shocking rape and murder of the young Azorean shoeshine boy on Yonge Street, in 1977. Dale’s Portuguese background and language skills gave him access to the family’s and the community’s side of the story. Some of Dale’s most notable stories, for which he became known as an expert “manhunter,” included Portuguese immigrants who broke the law and escaped to Portugal to evade Canadian justice. One involved a young undocumented Portuguese immigrant guilty of a hit and run that killed a young girl in Toronto. Thirteen months after this incident, Dale was able to track the man in a small rural village in Portugal, interview him, and convince him to voluntarily return to Canada to face justice. Another major story was his exposé of the criminal and other unethical practices of the infamous Portuguese Catholic priest of St. Mary’s Church, Fr. Alberto Cunha, which would lead to the Archdiocese of Toronto defrocking him.
Dale won numerous journalism awards throughout his career, including the National Newspaper Awards and the Governor General’s Award for Public Service Journalism. He was also the recipient of Portuguese awards. However, there are some among Toronto’s Portuguese who accused him of airing the community’s “dirty laundry.” Dale’s investigative feats and moving stories about “common people” in exceptional circumstances made him one of the most identifiable, celebrated, and popular reporters in the Star. The newspaper used his persona in its advertisement and published various tributes to Dale as he approached retirement, on May 10, 2016.
Hora dos Portugueses
See 3D version here.
Short description: Typewriter
Dimensions: L 40 cm x W 39 cm x H 23 cm
Creator: Royal Typewriter Company
Place of origin: Canada
Description: Black typewriter from Royal Typewriter Co. with blue sticker placed on top with the inscription “The Toronto Star” in silver letters. This was one of Dale Brazão’s typewriters at the Toronto Star’s newsroom.
Short description: Toronto Star Mug
Dimensions: D 8 cm x H 11 cm
Place of origin: China
Description: White glossy mug with a golden portrait of the Toronto Daily Star’s founder Joseph Atkinson and the words “Toronto Star. Paper for the People” on one side. On the other side are “Atkinson’s Four Star Rules. 1. Get the news first. 2. Sew it up so the opposition cannot get it. 3. Leave not a crumb or a morsel or a tidbit uncollected. 4. Play it big. The Toronto Star.”
Short description: Landline button phone
Dimensions: 22 cm x 23 cm
Creator: Northern Telecom (Nortel)
Place of origin: Mississauga, Ontario
Description: Beige landline telephone with grey buttons. On the bottom, a strip of white sticky tape bears the handwritten inscription “Phillysports 341-3764 Pos69.” This was Dale Brazão’s desk phone in the Toronto Star’s newsroom.
Short description: Toronto Star Newspapers
Creator: Toronto Star
Place of origin: Toronto
Description: A stack of Toronto Star newspaper issues featuring some of Dale Brazão’s cover stories.
Short description: Firefighters Award
Dimensions: L 37 cm x W 30 cm x H 16.5 cm
Creator: Safety Supply Company / Toronto Firefighters
Place of origin: Canada
Description: Gold-coloured Super Chieftain Safe-T-Helmet with white leather patch, bearing inscription “Best Story 1990. Dale Brazao. Toronto Star,” in gold letters. This was one of five Toronto Firefighters Awards for Spot News Reporting that Dale received throughout his career.