BENEFIT CONCERT FOR NEW MARRANO JEWISH MUSEUM IN Carção
Paco Díez em Carção, FEBRUARY 18, 2011, AT 20.00
This article first appeared in Portuguese on February 1, 2011 in Terra Quente, a bi-monthly newspaper in Tras-os-Montes, Portugal, and in English at www.ladina.blogspot.com
Richard George Henriques, A Canadian architect in search of his roots.http://www.imprensaregional.com.pt/jornal_terra_quente/index.php?info=YTozOntzOjU6Im9wY2FvIjtzOjE1OiJub3RpY2lhc19saXN0YXIiO3M6OToiaWRfc2VjY2FvIjtzOjI6IjE2IjtzOjk6ImlkX2VkaWNhbyI7czoyOiI3MiI7fQ==
Antonio J. Andrade and M. Fernanda Guimaraes
Translated and revised by mlopesazevedo and M. Fernanda Guimaraes
(the authors assert copyright)
Henriquez Partners is a prestigious architectural firm in Canada. Their most emblematic work is found in Vancouver where they are located. Some of their highrise projects form part of the panoramic of the city. Other noteworthy projects are part of urban renewal, sometimes constituting a set of buildings or even an entire block. There are also significant buildings in the arts, medicine, and scientific research. There are innovative projects, from the boldest modernism to very contextural designs inspired by adjoining Neo-Classical re-creations. The firm enjoys an international reputation and has won more than a dozen awards, in particular, the Governor General's gold medal, which the firm has received twice and the Royal Architectural Institute Gold Medal, which Richard received in 2003.
The firm has about 30 members, headed by architect Alfred Gregory Henriquez whose mentor and thesis advisor was the celebrated architect and historian Alberto Perez-Gomes, professor of architecture and engineering at the University of Montreal. But the founder and builder of the firm is his father, the architect Richard George Henriquez. It is the latter that is at the heart of our story, which will lead us to multiple references of a Sephardic family that left its mark in many parts of the world during several centuries. We are restricting our research to Portugal, especially the Inquisition trial records (“processos”) that can be found at the Torre do Tombo archives in Lisbon.
First, we wish to point out that the surname Henriquez was Hispanicized at the turn of the last century during the construction of the Panama canal. Therefore, for the purposes of our work, we will adopt the Portuguese spelling, Henriques, the name which connects this Jewish family to Portugal since the 15th century. Other branches of the family kept the Portuguese spelling in the diaspora.
We would also like to relate how this adventure began, yes this project, not the architectural one! Richard had been trying for two years to obtain processos from the Torre do Tombo but lack of knowledge of the Lusitanian language of Camoes hindered him, so he decided to attend in person at the archives. Richard has been making many such trips over the last 20 years to places such as the USA, , England, France, Spain, Holland, wherever his ancestors led him. By chance, a Luso-Canadian lawyer referred him to Fernanda Guimaraes who practically lives at the Torre.
It was in the summer of 2008 when Richard and his wife arrived in Lisbon. There is an old saying in Portuguese, when hunger calls, the appetite strikes. In other words, at precisely the same time that Richard was looking for the processos, Fernanda was researching them. Unkowingly, Fernanda had been studying Richard`s ancestors in such dispersed places as Torre De Moncorvo, Vila Flor, Trancoso, Celorico da Beira, Miranda do Douro, and Viseu, all places with a significant Jewish population before the forced baptism of 1497. ( All Portuguese Jews were forcibly baptized in 1497, thereafter called New Christians). Fernanda was also aware that some members of the family had fled Portugal to such places as Madrid, Bordeaux, Amsterdam and then London to escape the clutches of the Inquisition. Fernanda offered her services and Richard was pleased.
Richard George Henriques was born on February 5, 1941 in Annotto Bay on the north coast of Jamaica, within the limits of the town of Port Maria, baptized Puerto de Santa Maria by the first Spanish colonizers. His mother's name was Essie Adeline Silvera, also Anglocised (Silveira in Portuguese), and his father Alfred George Henriques was born in 1916. They were a typical merchant and agricultural family working on plantations , however Richard's father was soon working in Jamaica to help boost agricultural production during wartime. On becoming aware of the peril facing Jews in Europe and with an appetite for adventure Richard’s father, volunteered and joined the British Air Force . During his tender years, Richard remembers a particularly violent storm, almost a hurricane, which destroyed the family home in which his sister, Kathleen Maye Henriques, his mother and Grandmother also lived. At about the same time Richard’s mother learned that her 28 year old husband, now a bomber pilot in the British air force had been shot down by an enemy plane on a night operation aimed at Warsaw. The death of his father coincided with the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto and must have contributed to Richard's destiny to become the family genealogist.
Without a father and the family home in ruins, Richard and his sister went to live with his paternal grandparents, Alfred St. Elmo Henriques, and Linda Maye Cohen Henriques, at Greenwood, a citrus plantation. Richard has fond memories from his time at Greenwood, frequent trips to the beach supervised by his aunt Rita, moonlight filled nights on the house porch with his grandfather unravelling the mysteries of life and the world, and his grandfather’s adventures as a young man. Perhaps it was these nostalgic evenings and the absence of a father killed in a distant land that ignited Richard's interest in discovering his roots.
Later, Richard's mother married Francis Roy Henriques, his grandfather's nephew. The family settled in Buff Bay, a small seaside town, 40 kilometres from their previous home, where his mother and stepfather had three other children. Of the five siblings, four now live in Vancouver.
Richard started primary school when he was seven and has some unpleasant memories of being bullied. When he was about ten years old he decided to become an architect like his uncle Rudolph Daniel Cohen Henriques whom he got to know during summer vacations. Uncle Dossie, as Richard called him was a talented self-educated man, architect, sculptor and painter. He served an architectural apprenticeship at a New York engineering firm and with Richard’s grandfather went to Panama when the Panama canal was being built. He returned to Jamaica to start an architectural, engineering and construction business with several of his brothers. Richard has fond memories of uncle Dossie's trip home to see his wife, sister and her family on the north coast of Jamaica, amusing the children with sculpting animals in clay. Uncle Dossie had married Gwendolyn Cohen Henriques, Linda's sister and Richard's paternal grandmother. Their son, Maurice Karl Cohen Henriques graduated from architecture in 1957 from the University of Manitoba in Canada. Richard soon followed in his footsteps, and the rest is history as it is said.
Howard Shubert, Geoffrey Smedley, Robert Enright, Richard Henriques, Selected Works, 1964-2005, Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, Toronto, 2006