Gallery of the Portuguese Pioneers’ Portuguese Passports

Portuguese Passports

Portuguese passports from immigrants who arrived in Canada in the 1950s-60s.

Audio caption


António F. Viola, Álvaro P. dos Reis, Arnaldo Figueira, Jordão I. de Freitas, Eduardo A. Mendonça, João Gonçalves, Joaquim de Gouveia, Joaquim G. Pereira, José Linhares de Sousa, José Nunes, José Garcês Teixeira, Manuel Camacho, Rui Ribeiro, Elias M. Gonçalves, José P. Nóbrega, Branca Amélia C. Proença, Maria Teresa Pereira, Rosa Maria Pereira, Maria Helena Pereira.

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Government of Portugal

Place of origin:

Since 1947, the Emigration Junta (Junta da Emigração) was responsible for recruiting and transporting Portuguese emigrants, while the PIDE (the Estado Novo‘s political police) was in charge of issuing passports and repressing clandestine migration. A large number of Portuguese undocumented migrants were able to enter Canada clandestinely, arriving with “tourist” visas and later applying for landed status from within the country. Some of these undocumented migrants came from the United States, Brazil, Venezuela and other countries where it was easier to obtain a Portuguese passport and a Canadian tourist visa. The Colonial Wars in Africa, which lasted from 1961 to 1974, exacerbated this phenomenon, as many Portuguese war resisters and families with boys entering military age escaped conscription and left the country. Portugal saw its largest ever population exodus during this period, with emigrants leaving predominantly for other European countries (especially France), but also overseas destinations, including Canada.

Facing an increase in clandestine departures, the Portuguese dictatorship stopped issuing ordinary passports to common workers wishing to visit Canada as “tourists” and introduced a special “emigration passport” in a futile attempt to control the growing exodus. The number of Portuguese entering Canada with a non-immigrant visa jumped from 650 in the period between 1958 and 1963 to over 3,000 in 1963-1964. By the end of 1965, less than 25 percent of them had left the country after their visas expired. This extensive clandestine movement is one of the major reasons why Portuguese mass migration to Canada remained high in the 1970s.