The Journey of A.T.

from Bladen Hall to Scarborough, Ontario

As told by A.T. Gonsalves and written by
Neville Gonsalves


A.T. Gonsalves
9 children,
45 grandchildren,
83 great-grandchildren,
3 great-great-grandchildren!

Homes in Guyana

  • Bladen Hall
  • Berbice
  • Bladen Hall
  • Nonpareil
  • Buxton
  • Georgetown

Homes in Ontario, Canada

  • Brockley Dr / Lawrence Ave East
  • Shenley Rd/ Kennedy Rd
  • Millwood Rd
  • Victoria Park / Lawrence Ave East
  • Dundalk Drive / College & Gladstone
  • Cedarbrook Lodge / Markham Rd
  • The Wexford / Lawrence Ave East


Presented to A. T. on the occasion of his
102nd Birthday
February 18, 1996


The life story of my father, from Bladen Hall (Guyana) to Scarborough (Ontario, Canada) was written through his eyes and as a legacy for posterity. I am thankful for the patience of my wife Nancy, during the many hours assisting with the editing of the story, and my love/hate relationship with the "computer".

With love to my father:

A. T. Gonsalves
Birth Date: Tuesday February 18, 1894 1:15 pm.
Birthplace: Bladen Hall British Guiana
Sign: Aquarius
The Journey of A.T.
From Bladen Hall To Scarborough, Ontario

by Neville Gonsalves


In December of 1993. the company that I was employed with decided to downsize their operations. I found myself unemployed. at a time when unemployment was quite high and the future seemed uncertain.

I decided to go back to school to learn the skillful use of computers after being unemployed for almost two years.

Having successfully completed the courses required, I decided that it would be an excellent idea to write a story of my aging father and also to share some of the historical background of the country where he was born.

The story itself is incomplete. It is only an overview that should be read with an open mind. Some of the contents are factual. Some are my reflections and memories of my family and the land that is so dear to many - GUYANA.

Guyana in South America
1497 - 1499 Explorers discovered many countries throughout the continent of South America. These include Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci. and Alonso de Ojenda.
1499 The territory of British Guiana was first chartered.
1595 Sir Walter Raleigh explored Guiana and ascended the Orinoco River.
1814 Formal possession to the British.
1831 British Guiana was colonized.
1834 Slavery was abolished.
1856 Grandmother Mias, her two sisters and brother came to British Guiana as indentured labourers.
1861 Grandmother Mias and her sisters paid off their indenture and became citizens.
1863 Augustus my father was born in Bladen Hall, British Guiana.
1864 Grandmother Mias was married.
1865 Mary my mother was born in Bladen Hall, British Guiana.
1866 Manoel (Mias' brother) became a citizen.
1889 St. George's Cathedral was built.
1894 St. George's Cathedral was consecrated.
I was born at Bladen Hall, British Guiana.
1910 Left home in search of employment.
1914 Eloped and married Lucy Xavier.
1916 Sydney was born in Berbice, British Guiana.
1919 Lawrence was born in Berbice, British Guiana.
1920 Ephigenia was born in Berbice, British Guiana.
1921 Purchased first home in Nonpareil, British Guiana.
1924 Edward was born in Nonpareil, British Guiana.
Lucy was sent to Suriname for treatment.
1925 Purchased first property in Buxton, British Guiana.
1926 Lennard was born in Nonpareil, British Guiana.
My father Augustus died at home.
1927 Albert Norbert was born in Nonpareil, British Guiana.
1929 Stephen was born in Nonpareil, British Guiana
1930 Lucille was born in Nonpareil, British Guiana.
1933 Purchased second property in Buxton, British Guiana.
1935 Neville was born in Buxton, British Guiana.
1939 Moved from Nonpareil to Georgetown, British Guiana.
1940 Sydney died at home at age 24.
1950 My mother Mary died at home at age 85.
1952 Universal suffrage granted under British administration. Dr Cheddi Jagan, leader of the People's Progressive Party, was swept to power.
1953 Britain ordered troops and warships to the colony of British Guiana. The constitution was suspended (suspected communist take over).
1961 British Guiana achieved full internal government in the elections held that year. Dr. Cheddi Jagan and the People's Progressive Party gained a majority in the elected legislative assembly.
1962 Prime Minister Jagan introduced severe economic changes. The program gave rise to strikes and riots. British troops were called in to restore order.
1963 More disorder followed. This occasion saw racial overtones, with clashes between people of African decent and the East Indian supporters of Jagan. After tranquility the nation faced economic disorder.
1964 Neville emigrated to Toronto, Ontario.
1965 Lucille emigrated to Montreal, Quebec
Lucy and I retired from business in Georgetown, British Guiana.
1966 British Guiana gains independence from Britain.
Albert Norbert emigrated to Scarborough, Ontario.
1967 Lucy died in hospital in Georgetown, Guyana.
1968 Lennard emigrated to Scarborough, Ontario.
1969 Ephigenia emigrated to Scarborough, Ontario.
Visited my children in Scarborough, Ontario.
1970 I was sponsored as an immigrant.
Returned to Guyana.(first time).
1973 Stephen died at home in Georgetown, Guyana.
1975 Returned to Scarborough, Ontario.
1976 Lawrence emigrated to Toronto, Ontario.
1977 Returned to Guyana. (second time).
Returned to Scarborough, Ontario.
1978 Rev. Jim Jones and 1000 Americans died by poison at Jonestown, Guyana.
1984 Wrote poem for Lucy.
1986 Admitted to Cedarbrook Lodge, Scarborough, Ontario.
1987 Met Ivy Hiscock.
1990 Lawrence died in East York General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario.
1994 Transferred to the Wexford, Scarborough, Ontario.
Ivy died in Centenary Hospital Scarborough.
1995 Evaluation of my health at the Wexford, Scarborough, Ontario.
The Journey of A.T.
From Bladen Hall To Scarborough Ontario


Formally, British Guiana is bounded on the north and northeast by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by Suriname, on the south by Brazil, and the northwest by Venezuela. This territory, now Guyana, was first charted by Spanish explorers in 1499.

Ruins of Fort Kyk-Over-Al, Guyana (Click for slideshow.)

At the beginning of the 1600's the Dutch first settled in this area. They erected a fort and depot at Fort Kyk-Over-Al in the county of Essequibo. During the 1700's the Dutch and English established posts, trading with the Amerindian natives (including the Arawak and Carib tribes, and others living close to the Brazil border, near the Ireng River).

Plantations were laid out and worked using slaves from Africa. Coffee and cotton were the main crops in the early years. Sugar became the dominant crop by 1820. When slavery was abolished some of the slaves scattered as small landholders. The plantation owners looked for other sources of labour, mainly to England.

By the mid eighteenth century Dutch settlers and traders had prevailed over rival Spanish and British expeditions. Although formal possession fell to the British in 1814, the Dutch system of administration persisted during most of the pre-colonial period. The colony of British Guiana came into being in 1831.

During the initial occupancy the colony had only sugar and rice plantations. Workers were needed to cultivate the land and set up commercial businesses. Agreements were made with the governments of China, India, and Portugal to send workers to this South American colony as indentured labourers. These workers were required to work for the plantation owners for a fixed period before they were free to work elsewhere or become citizens.

After becoming citizens the Chinese and Portuguese joined the business community. The East Indians remained as workers on the sugar plantations. The Africans were the carpenters, builders and tradesmen. The sugar plantation owners sold their holdings to a company in England, which then employed engineers, sugar chemists and field overseers to be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the industry.

The six races of Guyana are diversified and have lived harmoniously together. The majority of the population is Christian (Anglican and Roman Catholic) and the remainder is either Hindu or Muslim.

Guyanese food is as varied as the races themselves. There is British, Creole, Chinese, East Indian and Portuguese cuisine. Popular dishes include traditional roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Meat stew seasoned with cayenne pepper and cassareep, called pepperpot, is a creole delight. Cassareep is an extract of cassava, a root vegetable grown in Guyana. Meat, pork and rice dishes prepared by the Chinese are enjoyed by many.

Curried dishes such as fish, meat, goat, and potatoes are filled with the aroma from India. Christmas would not be the same without garlic pork and pudding - the Portuguese traditional dishes. The natives hunt and fish for food such as labba, deer and wild pig. These are mainly the meats that they prepare. From the nearby streams their catch includes shrimp, prawns, and crabs.

The Land

British Guiana, with its 83,000 square miles, has a population of just under a million and less than 5% of its land area under cultivation. The rest of the land area is made up of forests and pastures. Most people live either in Georgetown, or in villages and towns strung along the coast of Guyana from Charity in the west to Springlands in the east.

Map of Guyana (Click for slideshow)

The rich agricultural land is used for producing rice and sugar, and raising cattle. Coffee, fruit and vegetables are also grown.

Guyana is the world's largest producer of calcined bauxite. This mineral is found in Linden (the bauxite mining town), located 70 miles south of Georgetown, with a population of over 60,000. Bauxite is considered to be a soft mineral. In colour it may vary from white to brown, and is dull in appearance. This mineral is usually found in small lumps, and is mined in large quantities. It can be easily purified and converted to aluminum.

The country is divided into three counties: Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo. These names were derived from their main rivers.

The city of New Amsterdam lies at the mouth of the Berbice River, across from the county of Demerara and the town of Rosignal. The people of New Amsterdam, with a population under 30,000, are very proud of their culture and leisurely lifestyle, as well as their trade and banking facilities.

The county of Berbice, about 65 miles east of Georgetown, is made up of many towns, villages, dairy farms, rice-fields and sugar plantations. From New Amsterdam the highway goes eastward to Springlands and Skeldon. These two towns at the mouth of the Corentyne River have a population of about 30,000. At Springlands you can take the ferry for a two-hour crossing to Suriname, which may require a visa for entry.

Georgetown, the capital city, with a population of under 250,000, is in the county of Demerara. The climate is tropical. Popularly known as the Garden City of the Caribbean, with white-painted wooden houses raised on stilts, a profusion of tropical trees line the wide avenues. Other buildings in the main core of the city are extremely attractive, with Gothic structures.

St George's Anglican Cathedral, which was consecrated in 1894, is not only 143 feet high, but also a towering landmark, and is believed to be the tallest wooden building in the world. The Botanical and Promenade Gardens offer an array of beautiful flowers, huge water lilies, palm trees, bird sanctuaries and other tropical delights. In addition you will find the many amenities normally found in other cities.

The land itself is below sea level. During the Dutch occupancy a wall was built along the eastern coast for about 65 miles from Georgetown to Rosignal. This wall protects the land from flooding by the Atlantic Ocean. Dykes, sluice gates and pump stations are found along this wall in many districts. The workers that operate these structures are on duty day and night. Their responsibilities are to drain the water off the land by opening the sluice gates, or by pumping it into the ocean. Conversely, the dykes and sluice gates are closed to prevent the sea water from flooding the land during high tides.

The town of Bartica is in the county of Essequibo, where there are numerous gold and diamond fields. Along the Essequibo River there are many small towns and villages. Their main resources are mining, farming and raising cattle. Many rivers and tributaries flow to the Essequibo River, including the Rupununi, Mazaruni, and the Potaro rivers.

The Kaieteur Falls has a sheer drop of 741 feet in the Potaro River, and is about 300 feet wide. This waterfall is in the interior of the country and the best way to get there is by small aircraft. Near Kaieteur Falls a variety of wildlife can be found, such as armadillos, anteaters, monkeys, ocelots, tapirs, and river birds.

Sugar Plantations
Enmore and Nonpareil

Sugar cane is grown and processed at refineries on the coast of Guyana. Cultivated in tropical climates, it grows to a height of eight feet and has joints (stems) from one to two inches long. Several varieties are known, differing in colour. Some have deep cuts and spaces between the joints. Sugar cane is planted with cuttings ninety days old. At each joint there is an undeveloped bud called an "eye" which produces growth. An approximate length of eight inches is cut off and planted just under the soil in rows, on a bed prepared for planting.

Sugar cane (Click image for slideshow)

Sugar cane is cultivated in fields of varying sizes, depending on land availability. Some could be one hundred feet long by thirty feet wide. In the front of each field is a navigational waterway, approximately twelve feet deep by ten feet wide that is also used for irrigation.

At the back end of each field is a much smaller drainage waterway, five feet deep by three feet wide, that receives the water after the irrigation cycle is over. Between each field there are also canals that are eight to ten feet deep and just as wide. Punts (flat bottom boats) are brought into these canals to load and discharge the cuttings, load the harvested sugar cane and bring in fertilizer when needed.

After the cuttings are planted artificial fertilizers are applied by teenage girls. All the rows are fertilized by hand. Two to three weeks later, depending on rainfall, the fields are irrigated through an opening in the bed nearest to the waterway, covering the entire field with water for at least twenty four hours. This procedure may occur once or twice before maturity.

After eight or nine months the sugar cane reaches maturity and is ready to be harvested. Before harvesting the fields are set ablaze. The main reason for burning the sugar cane is to reduce the growth of the leaves, called trash. This would enable the cane cutters to better handle the scorched stalk of the sugar cane that is left standing. This stalk is then harvested by hand.

The cutting instrument used in this procedure is called a cutlass. This consists of a large steel blade eighteen inches long and four to five inches wide and set in wooden handles (similar in shape to a machete). The sugar cane is cut near the surface of the ground, stripped of whatever leaves remain after burning and trimmed at the highest mature joint at the top. The portion that remains near the surface of the ground will grow again. This can continue for many years.

The sugar cane is then piled into rows, tied into bundles, and loaded into punts that are numbered so that the workers can be paid by the weight of the sugar cane in them. Approximately sixteen to twenty punts are attached to each other and pulled, either by mules or tractors, along the navigational waterways to the sugar factory.

The Refining Process
Unrefined Demerara brown sugar (Click for slideshow)

At the factory the bundles are lifted from the punts and weighed. Each bundle could have an average weight of between four and eight tons. After being weighed the cane is pushed onto a bed of toothed rollers, where it is crushed and the juice extracted. Hot water is sprayed over the crushed material to dissolve any remaining sugar. This process is called grinding.

The pulpy material remaining after extraction of the juice is called bagasse, which is dried and used as fuel. Limestone is added to the juice and this mixture is boiled. Unwanted organic acids form compounds with the limestone that are then filtered off with other impurities. The juice is treated with sulphur dioxide which acts as a bleach. Then it goes through another filtering process.

The resulting clear juice is then evaporated in a vacuum and is heated until it forms a thick syrup, containing many crystals of sugar. These crystals are then placed into a centrifuge turning at a rate of over one thousand revolutions per minute. During this process a syrup called molasses is forced out of the centrifuge through small holes in its walls.

The brown sugar that is removed for this process is raw sugar. This is then sprayed with water to remove the molasses that may have clung to the crystals. Molasses is a valuable by-product of the industry. It is used in the manufacture of alcohol, rum and food flavouring, and is added to drinking water for cows, horses and mules.

The raw sugar is weighed and transferred to bags for general consumption, or is loaded into containers and transported to waiting ships where it is stored in the galley.

Older Generations
Indenture, Marriage and Children
AT's ancestors in Guyana (Click for slideshow)

My grandmother Mias, her two sisters and brother Manoel came to British Guiana from the Portuguese island of Madeira as indentured labourers. The four of them went to work at Enmore sugar plantation on the east coast of Demerara. Having made the decision to come to this new country, they soon realized it was not what they were accustomed to. They felt isolated because of cultural and language barriers. The wages they received did not compensate for the many long hours that they worked. When they were in the old country women did not have to do manual labour.

Manoel decided that as a family they should live frugally and pool their financial resources so that the three girls would not have to continue working. After five years the three sisters were able to repay the plantation owners and became citizens. They remained at Enmore Estate and were married. Manoel continued working on the sugar estate for ten years before he was able to repay his own indenture. When he became a free citizen he moved to a small settlement called Bladen Hall where he built his home.

My grandmother had two children from her first marriage: a son John and a daughter Mary (my mother). After her husband died she married again and had a son Manoel. Her second husband's surname was Gonsalves. John and Marys' surname was changed from Agusta to Gonsalves. My mother Mary went to Bladen Hall to live with her uncle Manoel Gracis and his three daughters and son.

My father Augustus was born in Bladen Hall. He went to work at an early age as a labourer at Enmore sugar plantation. He planted sugar cane and I was encouraged to accompany him. When the harvesting season came around he would be part of the cane cutting and loading group. He had a twin sister named Amilia, two other sisters and a brother.

My parents had ten children: Manoel (born April 1892), myself (Augustinho Thomas born February 18, 1894), Victor (born February 2, 1902), Isabella (born December 12, 1904), Joseph (born March 28, 1906) and five other children who died when they were young.

My Working Years / My Valentine
Lucy & Augustinho with baby Sydney, 1917

As a young boy with very little formal education, I went to work to help support my father, who was very sick. I worked in various positions. The salary in those days started at eight cents per day, with small increases to sixteen cents per day.

In 1910 when I was sixteen years of age, I left home and went to New Amsterdam to look for suitable employment. Mr. E.G. Ferreira owned a chain of grocery and liquor stores in New Amsterdam, Corentyne, Canje Rosehall, West Coast Berbice and East Bank Berbice up to plantation Mara, twenty-five miles up the Berbice River. To get to Mara we travelled by launch.

I worked in the districts mentioned as a grocery and liquor clerk. My starting salary was six dollars per month but by 1914 my salary had doubled.

During my school years I fell in love with Lucy Xavier, who lived next door to us. In my late teens, when I was away from home, I was informed that Lucy was betrothed to someone else. Her parents wanted her to marry an older person who would be more suitable and would be able to give her a better life than I was able to offer.

Contrary to their wishes, on St Valentine's day 1914 (Lucy's birthday), we eloped and were married by a bishop in Georgetown. At the time of our marriage I was almost twenty and Lucy was seventeen. We settled in Berbice.

I was employed in a liquor store in Canje Rosehall and could not find an apartment to rent in the area. The nearest village, Sheet Anchor, was five miles from my work but we finally found a place to call home. I needed transportation to get to work, so Mr Ferreira bought a bicycle for me. My working day started at 5 am. and finished at 9 pm. There were five employees in the store.

My Progeny / My Own Business
AT's family - 1937
Back row: Lawrence, Ephigenia and Sydney
Next row standing: Edward and Lennard
Sitting in front: Stephen, Lucille and Norbert
Middle row sitting: Lucy holding baby Neville, with Augustinho

My first son Sydney was born in 1916. At that time my salary was twenty-two dollars per month and my house was rent free. In 1919 my second son Lawrence was born. My salary had increased to thirty dollars per month.

I was sent to be in charge of a grocery and liquor store in West Coast Berbice. When my third child Ephigenia was born, my salary was forty dollars per month and I received a rent free house. With my working experience I felt it was time to move on. So I told Lucy that if I continued working for Mr. Ferreira I would not he able to support my growing family.

A decision was made to go back home and start our own business. We left Berbice at the end of 1920, after ten years, to return to Bladen Hall where I was born. Lucy's and my parents were still living there. In 1921 I bought my first home, at Plantation Nonpareil, and converted the property into a living area with a store attached. This was comprised of two and a half bedrooms, a small living room, a kitchen, a grocery, hardware and a dry goods store.

There was no electricity, so kerosene lamps were used. We had no indoor plumbing, so an out-house had to suffice. Cooking was done on a stove made out of clay with holes were dug out to form burners (called a fireside). The size of the family dictated the amount of burners needed.

The 3 Guianas- Guyana (Bitish Guiana), Suriname (Dutch Guiana) and French Guiana

Lucy and I were storekeepers. We were required to pay the sugar estate management ten dollars per month as a levy for land ownership. Sewage removal was non existent and garbage was either burnt or buried. Fruit and vegetable peelings were recycled and fed to the yard animals.

In the immediate area were marsh lands that were breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects. Mosquitoes injected into the blood stream deadly tropical diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and filariasis. Controlling these insects was not a priority of the day and no cure for malaria was available in 1921. Years later it was discovered that spraying in the homes and yards with DDT was the only way to control these insects.

In 1924 my third son Edward was born. Lucy became very sick with malaria. There was no treatment available in British Guiana, so I sent her to Suriname for medical care. In that part of South America there are three Guianas - British Guiana (a British colony), Dutch Guiana (a Dutch colony, also called Suriname, with Paramaribo being its capital) and French Guiana (a French colony).

Lennard was born on October 13, 1926, two days after my father Augustus died. The fifth son Albert Norbert was born in December 1927, and Stephen in 1929. In 1930 my second daughter and eighth child Lucille was born. The ninth, a son, died as an infant. Then in 1935 my last son Neville was born.

The Buxton Connection
Sydney and Julie on their wedding day in 1939. (Click image for slideshow)

My business was prospering, so Lucy and I purchased a store with a small living area attached in the nearest village to the small settlement of Bladen Hall, called Buxton. My youngest brother Joe managed the store, and we agreed that he would pay us a percentage of his profits as rental. This was in the late 1920's.

A few years later another property was up for sale in Buxton that included a store in front of the building, a living room, a kitchen and two bedrooms in the back. On the same property was a bakery. Lucy and I discussed with Sydney the possibility of my purchasing the property and stocking the store, and letting him manage the business and repay us from the profits. We agreed, and this started the Buxton connection.

The store and the bakery did extremely well financially at first, but due to a lack of supervision the building that housed the bakery started to deteriorate. This affected the bakery as a whole. So we decided to close the bakery some time in the late 1930's.

Meanwhile my brother Joe got married. He informed me that he would like to leave Buxton and go to another village in the area to start his own business. We completed our agreement and I sold the property. In addition to the two stores I also owned six acres of sugar cane, four acres of provision farm, a rice farm and thirty-eight cows.

In 1939 Lucy and I decided that if we continued to live at Nonpareil our children would be at a disadvantage with regards to their education, social life and the many illnesses, such as malaria, filariasis (mosquitoes are the carriers of these diseases), diphteria and other children's communicable diseases, that she and the children had to endure.

We decided to sell the property in Nonpareil and go to Georgetown, the capital city. We bought a property and did some renovations. I enlarged it into a two story home. The upstairs was the living area. It included three bedrooms, a sewing room (that was easily converted to a bedroom), a kitchen, a dining room and the main living room. Every room in the house was spacious. The downstairs was made into a grocery store.

Death in the Family
After Lucy died in 1967. (Click image for slideshow)

On April 28, 1940, the family suffered its first setback when Sydney died suddenly at the age of twenty-four. He was married less than a year and there were no children from this marriage.

At the time of Sydney's illness, Lawrence was stationed at Enmore as a police officer. When he received word that his brother's illness had worsened he asked permission to go to Georgetown. A leave of absence was denied. As a result, when he eventually got to the city, Sydney had already died. Needless to say he quit the police force. So I offered him the same agreement to manage the store at Buxton that Sydney originally had.

Our business did very well, so in 1944 I bought the three adjoining houses and rented them to my children when they married. Lucy and I continued working in the grocery store and living in the upper flat at the same location until we retired in 1965.

The family suffered their second set back when my beloved Lucy died on August 23, 1967, after a short illness. After Lucy's death, and in my grief, I realized how much alone I was. I felt life was not worth living. So I prayed and asked the Lord for comfort.

My prayer was answered. I started thinking of the things that I could do. Somehow I started to recite and memorize the alphabet from A to Z and then from Z to A. This became my strength. Years later some of my children and grandchildren were amused, when I recited the alphabet both forward and backward as part of my act with the Cedarbrook Follies.

By the end of 1967 three of my children had emigrated to Scarborough, Ontario and in the next three years two others followed. During 1973 another setback developed when Stephen died at age forty-four. He was survived by his wife Sheila and their seven children. Then in 1976 Lawrence emigrated to Toronto, Ontario. In December of 1990 Lawrence died after a lengthy illness. He was survived by his wife Angela. their children and grandchildren.

O Canada!

My daughter Lucille wrote me sometime in May of 1969 and informed me that I would be welcome to stay with her and her family if I wanted to come for a visit to Ontario. At the same time it would be an opportunity for me to spend some time with the other children and grand children. In the early fall of 1969 I decided to take her up on her offer and came to Scarborough for a holiday. This was the first time that I had left the country of my birth and what a delightful surprise was awaiting me.

Canada flag

As we drove along from the airport to Scarborough, I could not help observing the many cars that travel along the highway, the high-rise buildings, the beautiful homes and the overall cleanliness of the city. I was informed later that as long as one was willing to work and to live frugally, obtaining the necessities of life was not very difficult. A bank loan to purchase a car or a mortgage to buy a home was available providing you had full time employment and some money saved.

It was also very interesting to hear about the many social programs and services that the Canadian residents had. I am sure that the Guyanese people would have benefited, if only the government had the insight to introduce some of the amenities that were being offered here.

As I visited the shopping plazas and saw the clothing and shoe stores, as well as the grocery stores, I could not help noticing the abundance of merchandise and I was overwhelmed by the packaging and the display of food and the manner in which it was presented to the public. It was a pity that I had not had the opportunity in my earlier years to see and learn the procedures of presenting food as attractively as it was done here.

Another first impression happened one morning in late October when my grand children (Lucille's son and daughters) could not get over their enthusiasm to show me my first snowfall. As I looked out the window and saw white flurries cascading downwards I had a sudden urge to reach out and touch them.

So the children and I got dressed in our winter clothes. I was informed that it was much colder outside than it looked. We stepped onto the apartment balcony and I felt and played with the snow. I was overjoyed! When the children and I came back into the apartment I could not help expressing myself in the only way that I knew. O Canada! I am so happy to be here in this delightful country!

In the spring of 1970 1 was sponsored as an immigrant. After staying for almost a year I decided to return to Guyana. I realized that I was slightly homesick for relatives and friends still living there.

Guyana Independence and After
After 135 years of colonial rule, and struggling with political and racial problems, British Guiana gained its independence from Britain in 1966. The country was renamed Guyana, an Amerindian name meaning land of many waters. In that year Guyana's national anthem and its flag were chosen. The insignia on the Coat-of-Arms reads "One People, One Nation, One Destiny.", describing the six races of this land as one people joined in harmony.

During the 1970's Guyana received international attention when the Reverend Jim Jones, a self-styled religious dictator who professed to be God, led over 1000 Americans to his jungle paradise, called Jonestown, in Guyana. There he subjected these people to his will and was instrumental in their death by poison.

The Guyana government restricted the flow of money leaving the country after gaining independence. As a result, when I finally left Guyana I was unable to take any money with me. In 1977 I returned to Guyana and sold my properties. I deposited my life's worth in the Royal Bank of Canada, in Guyana, and made them my trustees. I gave the Royal Bank of Canada the authority to lend the government of Guyana my money with the assurance that I would receive the interest payable and sent to me in Canadian funds.

Needless to say this was short lived. I was informed that the government of Guyana was strapped for money and the interest would not be sent and made payable outside of the country. After some discussion with my son I decided to dispose of the money among relatives, friends and the church in Guyana.

Guyana flag
Guyana coat-of-arms
The National Anthem of Guyana
Dear land of Guyana, of rivers and plains,
Made rich by the sunshine, and lush by the rains,
Set gem like and fair between mountains and sea,
Your children salute you, dear land of the free.
Green land of Guyana, our heroes of yore,
Both bondsmen and free, laid their bones on your shores,
This soil so they hallowed, and from them are we,
All sons of one mother, Guyana the free.
Great land of Guyana, diverse through our strains,
We are born of their sacrifice, heirs of their pains,
And ours is the glory their eyes did not see,
One land of six people, united and free.
Green land of Guyana, to you will we give,
Our homage, our service, each day that we live,
God guard you, great Mother, and make us to be,
More worthy our heritage - land of the free.
New Beginning

After ten years in Scarborough, Ontario, it was a new beginning for me to receive a reduced old age pension. and not have to depend on my children for their support. During 1986 I became ill and was hospitalized. For a period of three months I recuperated in a nursing home, while awaiting admission to Cedarbrook Lodge, located in Scarborough, Ontario. In August of 1986 I was transferred from the nursing home to Cedarbrook Lodge.

Celebrating the companionship of AT and Ivy (Click image for slideshow)

Later that year, a new resident named Ivy Hiscock came to Cedarbrook. She was a widow, with a large family. She was also a diabetic and a double amputee. We became friends and she was a companion to me.

Ivy was a remarkable person. She was able to rise above her disability and remained cheerful. We fell in love and shared some memorable times together. We were both involved in the Cedarbrook Follies, a group comprising about twenty residents, with ages ranging from seventy to one hundred years of age. We entertained families and friends, and we would go on tour to other residential homes, sharing with them the joys of song and laughter.

Ivy's diabetic problem became worse and she was unable to remain at Cedarbrook Lodge. A move was made to Bendale Acres nursing home, where she died in 1994.

Now I am 102 years of age and I am no longer living at Cedarbrook Lodge. I required extra health and nursing care. So, at the end of August 1994 I was transferred to the Wexford. At the anniversary of admission to this nursing home a complete medical examination is done. The family is then invited to be present to review with the nursing staff the results of my examination, as well as to discuss any other concerns that they may have regarding the general care provided. The results from my tests were very positive with no obvious problems.

So far I have lived a rich and full life. I have been blessed with a large family and my total offspring are six children, four of them live in Scarborough, Ontario. One is in Peterborough, Ontario and Edward, who never emigrated, still lives in Guyana. I also have forty-two grandchildren, over seventy great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren.

The Poem

1914-1967. Fifty three years of marriage bliss. Lucy and I, from the time we were married, faced many problems. We were young and did not have the blessings of our parents. We lived in an area of many diseases, a lack of medical facilities and inadequate living conditions. Most of all we were ambitious not only for ourselves, but also for our children.

My life in this story seems to be a shining example of what hard work and a loving wife can accomplish. I have always been a strict disciplinarian, and perhaps unduly harsh in many of my decisions affecting the family. Lucy played an important part in our lives. She was softer and more gentle in her handling of me and the children. She always appeared to agree with me but acted as a foil in dealing with family matters. She was conscientious, supportive and strong, working shoulder to shoulder with me.

At age 90, I decided that her memory should live on. I wrote the following poem for her.

My Valentine
Once when I was young
I met a girl
Both of us were young
she was
My beloved friend
My Valentine
We used to hold each others' hand
And run along on the railway track
To school and back
I was born February 18,1894
She was born February 14,1896
On Valentine day
Many years after that
She was taken from me
Never to return
When I am gone
I will seek and find
My Valentine
Lucy & Augustinho Gonsalves