A tribute to Nelson Santos, Mayor of Kingsville, Ontario

Nelson Santos, Mayor of Kingsville, Ontário.

It was a great pleasure, honour and blessing to meet and interview the Honourable Nelson Santos, Mayor of Kingsville, Ontario. Kingsville is Canada’s southernmost municipality with town status and a population of 21,552, according to Canada Census 2016.

Nelson was born in Harrow, Ontario which is a community in the Essex county with a population less than 2,000 habitants. His family moved to a house on Pearl Street in Kingsville, Ontario in the early 70’s when he was about 6 months old. As a child, he grew up speaking Portuguese only at home, and started to learn English after starting kindergarten. He describes the language barrier in English as being challenging and caused isolation from the other children in his class, however with hardwork and the support of his kindergarten teacher, he overcame this barrier and won an award at the end of that year for the most improved in his class, which boosted his confidence and voice.

Nelson studied Political Science, Public Administration, and Criminology at Windsor University. 4 years after graduating, he ran for town council and has been in a political career since. It is not surprising that he sits on the Police Board, when he was exposed to policing by his uncle who is a police officer in Leiria (Reguengo de Fetal), Portugal, which is also the birthplace of his parents.

Nelson learned excellent work ethics, morals, values and integrity from his parents as new immigrants, who like many immigrants work very hard to build this country. Community leadership was modeled for him by his father, who apart from contributing positively, and being a law abiding citizen to the economic growth of Essex County, he also recognized the importance of respecting and preserving, his culture, customs, and heritage with his family and all Canadians. Nelson and his siblings attended Portuguese classes to preserve the language. As Harrow, became a thriving community of Portuguese, second only to the German pioneers, Nelson’s father joined the local effort to help found Camoes Portuguese Club that welcomes peoples of all nations. For the list of events please check their Facebook, or call (519) 738-4021. They extend their invitation to visit the club during their operating hours. The club is closed on Mondays.

Unfortunately, today, Portuguese classes are limited in Essex county. Nelson agreed on the importance of maintaining our diverse ethnicity’s culture, customs and heritage. Our history, our ancestors are our legacy. Two of my favourites quotes that substantiate this comment is by Steve Berry, an American author and former attorney, “A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational and economic legacies – all of the things that quite literally make us who we are.” And Mahatma Gandhi, “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” On that notion, it is no surprise to see the Kingsville community rally in bringing the Highland Games back to Kingsville. An event that he thought would attract 2,500 spectators, exhausted his expectations by attracting closer to 7,500 spectators.

Fishery in Kingsville

Fisheries remain a very important industry in Kingsville due to its location along the north shore of Lake Erie and the Portuguese have contributed their skills and hard work to build this industry in this region of the country.

As a community in the Essex County region, Kingsville has a unique location as the most southern town in Canada and enjoys the warmest climate of any city in Ontario. Their region is located at the same latitude as northern California. The average temperature reaches above 50°F (10°C) 223 days of the year.

Kingsville is primarily an agricultural community. Neighbouring with the Municipality of Leamington, Kingsville shares in hosting the largest concentration of vegetable greenhouses in North America. They produce tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, flowers and potted plants. Kingsville is home to four estate wineries including Pelee Island Winery as the largest in Canada, which produces a variety of award-winning wines from their local vineyards. Bringing, their expertise and craftmanship, as a renowned winemaker, Portuguese winemakers are contracted directly from Portugal to work in the finest wineries in Kingsville.

There are numerous Tourism and recreational opportunities in Kingsville. Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary offers abundant bird watching opportunities. Their active trails include the Chrysler Canada Greenway that interconnects with the National Waterfront Trail.  The marine facilities include the Cedar Island Marina and Yacht Club and host an international working harbour at the Port of Kingsville.

The region is an affordable place to do business noting that their cost of serviced land is among the most attractive on the continent. Canadian Business and Profit magazines ranked Essex-County region 25th overall, as the best places to do business in Canada. Their housing costs are among Canada’s most affordable. Their proximity to the busiest border crossing in North America makes Kingsville a desirable location.  

As the Mayor of Kingsville, Nelson Santos extends a personal invitation to our readers and everyone worldwide to visit Kingsville. Be sure to visit their quaint Village of Cottam, their peaceful Hamlet of Ruthven, or their bustling downtown Kingsville with access to the impressive views of Lake Erie amongst Canada’s most southern coastlines. The Town of Kingsville is a unique community that is proud of its rich heritage, comfortable climate and plentiful sights and sounds of their year-round festivals and special events. www.MyKingsville.ca.

Mayor Nelson quotes Author Nora Roberts, “If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.”, in his mayoral message on his website.

The reason for that is because this community is constantly propelling forward, learning, growing and undergoing development. He describes this to keep moving forward and focused on goals and visions on a regular basis.

“There is something about having our voices of business, our residents and our community participate and commit to ‘visioning’ for our future success. Each one offers important insight and support in guiding the municipality in ultimate goal setting and decisions that include investing in key infrastructure and programs focused on establishing an environment that will grow success; that will grow investment; that will grow and support our communities.” Says Mayor Nelson.

Explore and discover Kingsville, and perhaps make it the home of your choice. This is a quiet, peaceful, small, but close-knit community, where you can live, work, play, and grow together.

Thank you Mayor Nelson, for your community leadership, motivation and inspiration for our future generation. And…for being the pride of Canada and all Portuguese speaking communities and nations at an international level.

Este artigo foi desenvolvido com o apoio do National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, no âmbito do programa Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), fortalecendo a voz de pequenas comunidades de língua portuguesa em áreas remotas do Canadá. Atribuição Creative Common: CC by BrazilianWave.org