Description: Rusty farm hoe
Place of origin: Portugal
Description: Head of farm hoe brought to Canada by José Linhares de Sousa when he immigrated from Madeira in 1953.
MY CHOICE OF ARTIFACTS, MY FATHER’S RUSTY HOE AND MY JUDICIAL GOWN AND WHY I CHOSE THEM.
I chose these two artifacts because they represent the bookends of my family’s immigration experience to Canada. I emphasize bookends because those two bookends encase many books that could be written about one family’s story and journey from Funchal, Madeira, Portugal across the ocean to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The courage of my parents and sacrifices endured by them to do what they did, leaving behind their families, their society, culture and country has never ceased to touch me deeply, and will remain for me a constant source of personal gratitude. It is a gratitude that extends to Portugal, my country of birth, for the formation of the true grit and resilience of the Portuguese immigrant.
Portugal’s sons and daughters have been emigrating to other lands for centuries. What really changed over the years was the destination. My father, Jose Linhares de Sousa, was no different. Within his own family there were 2 generations of relatives that had emigrated overseas. When my father read in the local newspaper that Canada was seeking agricultural workers, he applied and soon found himself on the Saturnia headed for Pier 21, Halifax. He understood that the agricultural workers should bring their own tools so he brought with him a shiny new hoe which he used in his farm work in Canada. That hoe is my first chosen artifact. It is the original and it was the beginning of my parent’s immigration to Canada. From the picture, it is clear that the shiny hoe has turned to a rusty one with age. My father soon gave up agricultural work in Canada. He was no farmer! I am not sure why my father kept his hoe all those years but I found it among his things when he passed away in October of 1996. I have it on my desk at home and use it as a very priced and precious paperweight. It reminds me of him.
My second artifact, is my judicial gown, now hung up permanently upon my retirement in 2019. I chose that because I believe the career and life that I, that scrawny immigrant kid that one sees in the pictures taken at Alan’s Gardens in Toronto, was able to live in Canada, somewhat fulfilled and realized the hopes and dreams of my parents when they chose to undertake that long immigration journey to Canada. Hopes and dreams for their children to have a better life, or at least a life that might not otherwise have been possible for me, if my parents had said no to the chance of immigrating to Canada in the 1950s. My parent’s courage and sacrifices gave me, as one author put it, a “Future to Inherit”. And so to my parents, to Canada and to Portugal, I say a profound and deeply felt “Obrigada”.
Maria Linhares de Sousa,
Ottawa, May, 2023