Gallery of the Portuguese Pioneers’ Spray Tank Pump

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Manuel da Silva’s
Spray Tank Pump

“Pulverizador Lusitano” metal tank pump for carrying liquids, like water and chemicals, and spraying them on farm crops. The heavy tank is designed to be carried like a backpack by wearing the leather straps over the shoulders.

Audio caption

Gilberto Fernandes
Click for Gallery of the Portuguese Pioneers’ page

Manuel da Silva

Auto Metalúrgica

Place of origin: Bombarral, Portugal

Most Portuguese immigrants came from rural and fishing backgrounds where they were accustomed to growing and preparing their own food. A significant number settled in the countryside, especially in southwesterrn Ontario and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Some became farmers growing orchards, vegetables, tobacco, horses, pork, and other products. But even among the majority that settled in the cities, there were many who grew their own vegetables in their backyard gardens, pickled their own food, butchered and cured their own meat, and made their own wine in their basements or in the garages on laneways. Grapes, juice and wine-making supplies were available for purchase in specialty stores, some of them owned by Portuguese or other Southern Europeans.

One such immigrant was Manuel da Silva. Born in Sítio da Serra D’Água, Machico, Madeira island, on June 19, 1920, Manuel worked as a fish boat captain in the port of Funchal, as a landscaper, and as a customs agent before migrating to Canada.

In 1953, already married and with five children, he became one of the first Portuguese “bulk order” migrant workers to arrive at Pier 21 in Halifax, aboard the Nella Hellas, on June 1. He was sent to work in various dairy, vegetables, and fruit farms across Quebec. A month later, he moved to Toronto and found work as a busboy at El Mocambo. He later found employment at the Dr. Ballard animal food factory, where he worked until retiring in 1985.

Manuel was a founding member of the Portuguese United soccer team, First Portuguese Canadian Club, the Canadian Madeira Club, and director of the Madeira Park.

For more, see Gilberto Prioste’s series of photos for a story on Comunidade about homemade wine among Toronto’s Portuguese community.

Manuel da Silva interviewed by Carol Coffey in Halifax, c.2004. Portuguese. This is a clip from the raw footage of the documentary Strong Hearts, Steady Hands (2004) produced by Felipe Gomes and directed by Carol Coffey. The footage was donated by Gomes to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections (CTASC), ork University Libraries, through the Portuguese Canadian History Project, in 2013. The finding aid to Felipe Gomes fonds at the CTASC can be found here.