Victor Alexander Vignale was born in Trinidad, in the British West Indies, in 1894.
His father, Raphael Vignale, was a successful cocoa planter.
The Vignales were a large family, with Raphael and his wife Adelaide having 10 children. Part of the family came to Canada in 1913, including parents Raphael and Adelaide, together with children Percy, Adolph, Victor, Cecily, Marietta, Alice and Joseph.
Older brothers Rudolph and Otho settled in England. Another brother, Raymond, served as a Signaller with the Canadian Field Artillery in the First World War, and was killed in action on November 8, 1918. Percy also served in the First World War.
In 1913 the Vignale family was residing in Toronto, and Victor was listed as a florist by trade. In 1932 he married Mary Hazel Patterson at St. Mary Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church in Port Credit, and they resided on Cawthra Road in Lakeview. Victor operated a florist shop on Lakeshore Road in Lakeview. Victor’s wife passed away in 1943.
Victor rose to local prominence in 1951 when he chaired the citizens committee for the revocation of the Canada Temperance Act in Peel. Victor also served as the president of the Lakeview Businessmen’s Association.
In July of 1952, as part of the Lakeview Businessmen’s Association, Victor chaired a committee to investigate the viability of Lakeview separating from Toronto Township to form the Municipality of Lakeview. However, by August of that year a decision was reached that it was in Lakeview’s best interest to remain part of the township. Victor was elected as a Councillor for Toronto Township in 1958, and served in that role until 1965, when he retired. He was the first person of colour to hold a public office in our history, and was a respected local businessman and community leader in Lakeview.
Victor later moved to Half Way Tree, Kingston, Jamaica, joining his brother Adolph. Interestingly, Adolph Vignale was a respected photographer residing in New Toronto for a time. Victor remarried in Jamaica to Idalee Bernal, and he passed away suddenly in 1970 at the age of 75. He was laid to rest in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Kingston, Jamaica. It is not believed that Victor had any children.
Victor’s siblings, Percy and Cecily Vignale, also lived in Mississauga and are buried at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery.
We would love to learn more about Victor Vignale. If you have memories, stories or pictures to share, please contact us at [email protected]
Special thank you to Nick Moreau from PAMA, and to Dorothy Kew and Kathy Baker from the Halton-Peel Branch of Ontario Ancestors for assisting in the research into Victor Vignale, our first elected Black politician.