Founded in 1963
Madeira House, 1621 Dupont Street, Toronto
I always talk about the seeds. This house planted a seed in me. It gave me a chance to be Portuguese again – Rick Coelho.
The Madeira House of Toronto was one of the first Portuguese regional clubs to open in Canada, in 1963. Immigrants and descendants from the Madeira islands and other parts of Portugal continue to meet here to listen to live music, dance, and celebrate their rural traditions, especially those surrounding food and holiday festivities.
In June 1963, a group of immigrants from Madeira gathered at the farm of the “pioneer” Carlos Pereira in Orangeville, Ontario, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first Portuguese migrant workers in Halifax. Later that year, this same group, led by José Patrício, purchased land in Georgina, Ontario, where they intended to host future events. This would become the Madeira Park. The same group founded the Canadian Madeira Club, which was incorporated in 1965. Their first place of gathering was the barber shop of Ângelo Bacalhau on Kensington Market, until they moved to St. Mary’s Catholic Church’s parish hall. In 1978, the organizers bought a building on 961 College Street, which later became the Casa da Madeira Community Centre. In 1995, the organization bought and relocated to a larger, three-storey building on 1621 Dupont St., which includes a hall with capacity for 260 people.
Throughout its history, the Madeira Club has hosted numerous social events, including religious and secular feasts, community dinners, dances, and picnics at their Georgina and Toronto locations. One of the most significant annual events at the Madeira Park is the procession and feast of the Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Mount), a religious tradition originally from Funchal. The club also has their own rancho folclóricos, founded in 1983 by Gilberto Araújo, Agostinho da Silva, and José de Freitas – their first “Camacha” costumes were gifted by the Portuguese government. This folk dance troupe has performed in cities across Ontario – including during the opening ceremony of the Sky Dome – Montreal, and in New Bedford and New Jersey in the United States. In 2011, an additional folk group was founded, the Floristas da Madeira, which is dedicated to older members.
While dedicated to celebrating the cultural traditions of Madeira, this organization is open to members from all parts of Portugal, including in its executive body. The Madeira House’s hall has also hosted activities from other Portuguese-Canadian organizations.
Hora dos Portugueses