In Your Hood

4 Interesting Facts about the Gallery of Portuguese Pioneers Museum at 960 St. Clair Avenue West

The Gallery of the Portuguese Pioneers was initially created as an homage and monument to the impact of Portuguese pioneers upon their arrival to Canada near this site in the early 1950s. During this time, over 8000 immigrants arrived from largely the Azores and Madeira archipelagos. These revolutionaries’ roles in Canadian society quickly shifted from agricultural work in the less developed areas of the country to foundations in major cities- most notably Toronto. Paving the way for generations of Portuguese Canadians and a growing population of 188 000 of Portuguese descent, this museum is chock-full of information on the Portuguese pioneers of Ontario and their admirable history. Here are some more interesting facts about the building and the cultural beacon of people it represents.

1. The original passports, immigration identification cards and applications for Canadian citizenship of these individuals from as early as 1951 can all be found in the museum. These provide eye-opening insight into the lives of the early immigrants, many of which sought work opportunities and escape from the oppressive political state of their homes at the time.

2. Detailed profiles of some individual pioneers and their family lineage are on display. They tell of their careers, circumstances, families, and the journeys which brought them to Canada as some of the first ethnic communities to create such a massive foundation from outside of North America.

3. The modern culture of the Portuguese community in Toronto is showcased alongside these histories through poetry, literature and family stories contributed by families whose roots belong to these pioneers. The impact of their ancestors in establishing Portuguese culture in the hub of Toronto is echoed even more clearly in the lives they lead, themselves. The goal of the ongoing archive of material new and old is to highlight the persistence of strong cultural beliefs and practices in the entirely new world of modern Canada.

4. Granny’s Treasure Chest is a new addition to the museum presenting toys and games of the young Portuguese settlers available for current generations to learn about and try. Youth are perhaps the most important members of a community, because they will always decide the future of its members. It must be equally important, then, to help them learn about the past, and appeal to their imaginative sides.

Portuguese pioneers showed enormous courage to journey to Canada during such an uncertain period in the history of the nation, and an even more uncertain period in the future of their nation. With an economic impact that surpassed that of any other foreign group of settlers in fast-growing population and in the sheer array of jobs they took on during the 1950s and 1960s in Canada, the Portuguese community is widely celebrated and shared among the people of Toronto. They and their ancestors have inspired and continue to inspire a universal culture of learning and perseverance in the heart of Toronto- and in the hearts of its citizens.

Visit there website here. https://pioneersgallery.ca/about/

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Part of Community – Part of a Village

Why I love Regal Heights Village!

One of the things I find most amazing about Toronto is its divine diversity. This is so true for St. Clair Avenue West and even more so true for our very own Regal Heights Village. For years we have been trying to figure out what Regal Heights Village is about and when it comes right down to it, it is about being diverse and unique with a strong envelopment of community. I have lived in the area for a good number of years and am surrounded by individuals and families who have deep roots stemming back 40+ years and individuals and families who are just discovering this amazing area.
I love that our street has everything one could want or desire. Everything from quaint little coffee shops to high-end clothing boutiques, fabulous chocolates and gifts, a sporting store, historical points like Oakwood Collegiate, the Portuguese Museum, a book store, salons, restaurants and cafes and this is to name only a few.
I love that St. Clair Avenue West is easily accessible by bus, street car, car and walking. According to www.walkscore.com, St. Clair Avenue West has a walk score of 97 and a transit score of 83. Daily errands can be done walking or using the street car.

I love that we are in the city, but it doesn’t have that concrete feel. I love that our street is tree lined and clean. I grew up in the country for the most part and I miss the long grass and wide-open spaces. The call of the big city was too great and so I moved out to Toronto. Luckily after a few years I was able to find Regal Heights Village and surrounding area and call it home. Although there isn’t long grass or wide-open spaces, I don’t feel suffocated by buildings and the continued rivers of concrete and asphalt that appeal to some Torontonians. The great thing is if I do get a craving for that big city feel, I can easily hop on transit and head downtown and take in the sights of the “big city”.

I love that community feel that this area has. One of the biggest fears I think my mother had when I decided fresh out of college to move across the country to Toronto, was that I was one person in a city of millions. At first, yes, I suppose I was. Now I am part of a community and as I participate more, get out more, visit my street, the shops, the schools, network and make those connections in the community, I am not the one person in a city of millions, I am part of a community, a village.

Growing your Community

Helping to Grow Community

As part of a Business Improvement Area, it is important to reach out to the surrounding community. A surrounding community is the inner circle of any business area and so events, promotions, business opportunities and area investments need to reflect that of the main market of the area. If you can engage with the surrounding community, they will then help to expand and promote the businesses that reside along the main street. Of course, people will have different interests and agendas, but what matters most is the quality of community life and the number people who regularly connect, build trust, invest locally, and get involved.

There are many ways that you can be involved, invest locally and connect with your community. We have created a list of 5 things you can do to be more a part of your community.

1) Support local merchants.As a Business Improvement Area, this one is close to our hearts. When you support our local merchants, you are supporting a dream and a livelihood. Take the time to get out there and discover those Mom and Pops, the boutiques and local shops. You certainly won’t be disappointed by products or service.

2) Attend a public meeting, lecture, gallery openings, exhibits, or hearing. As a community member, your input is important and invaluable.

3) Volunteer. There are many organizations, groups and ways you can volunteer and give back. The great thing about volunteering is that it is the cost of your time and the rewards can be great!

4) Donate to your local food or clothing bank. Most often, we will clean and purge items from our homes and those items most often end up in the garbage. Why not donate your items to worthwhile charities and organizations in the area?

5) Communicate, participate, or follow your local resident’s associations. If you don’t have one in your area, then why not create one. Resident’s Associations are comprised of individuals living in the community that volunteer to make where they live a better place. Resident’s Associations will often host local events, help elderly home owners in the area, work with local BIA’s to create stronger communities, work to improve cleanliness and safety.