...Albino Carreira was born on January 29th, 1945 -- the fourth child of six in a family of stone cutters. As a boy he loved to make toy 'trains' out of scrap wood. Some of these were so big he could ride them down the hilly streets of his hometown in Ourem, Portugal. From the age of 12 he was a hard worker, taking employment at a small clothing store as a sales clerk. At 18 he joined the national army and was posted in Mozambique for 3 years where he learned of abundant employment opportunities overseas from his fellow comrades. Then, in 1972, after briefly holding a position as head salesman in a department store, he left Portugal for the promising economy of North America. His destination was Canada where many of his fellow countrymen had landed. This seemed to him a likely place to settle down. He immediately got himself a job with a construction company and happily worked long, hard hours for the next 21 years. At one of his major construction sites, an expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Carreira recalls being fascinated by all the wonderful sculptures and paintings.
On June 16, 1993 at 12:30p.m., Albino Carreira slipped and fell twenty four feet from the scaffolding where he was at work. On his journey downward, his head grazed a brick building which cracked his skull. When he landed, his spine had broken and a great deal of blood was lost from a head wound. At the hospital, Albino's injuries were considered fatal. The examining physicians gave him but a few hours to live. To everyone's surprise, Carreira's body did not expire. Instead it showed strong vital signs and the decision was made to save him. Surgeons worked for 8 hours -- they mended his skull and then, using stainless steel plates and six, long Robertson-head screws along with pieces of his leg bone, they reconstructed Albino's spine. He now lives on a permanent disability pension with his wife, their two children and his mother-in-law.