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When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Angelo and Tegla Clozza

By Gordon W. Clozza

A. Clozza, A. Bino and J. Zarski - 1946My father was born on September 30, 1910, at Varmo, Udine, Italy to Gugliemo and Marie (Della Rossa) Clozza. He had three sisters, and the oldest, Rosalia, came to live in Newcastle (Drumheller), Alberta, with her husband Verginio. They had three children—Orfeo, Nello and Leanna. Verginio was ill and spent most of his remaining years in a hospital. At the age of 17 (1927), my Father came to live with his older sister. He was like a father to her children for a number of years. He arrived in Newcastle in November and was met by extreme cold and lots of snow. From the train station, he found their residence with the assistance of a taxi driver. He felt he would stay only for the winter, but soon fell in love with the country and remained in Drumheller for the rest of his life. He did return to Italy a couple of times but had no desire to stay.

He first worked as a labourer, building a railway to East Coulee, Alberta, and then got into the coal mines. In the mines, he worked his way up to the position of Fire Boss. He worked in several mines, including the N.A.C. mine, the Scranton and the Western Gem, and then spent most of his years at the Brilliant Coal Co. in Midlandvale (Drumheller), Alberta until it closed in 1958. He had become the Top Boss and remained employed after the mine closed until all the assets were sold. He next went down the road to the Hy-Grade Mine, but decided he was too old to start over, down in the mine. He then worked for my uncle, Jim Stocco, at Jimmie’s Super Market as a store clerk until his final retirement.

The Brilliant Coal Co. was owned by My grandmother, Luigia Stocco (her husband died about 1928) and by Sandino, Martini, Guidolin, and Eggenberger.

Family groupings, such as this, are significant because they signal a shift from a "men only" society to one centered around the family.  This happened in the period 1910 to the 1920s.  Canada had passed the test and was a country  were roots were put down.  Restrictive immigration after World War I, which allowed only agricultural labourers into the country, meant that family reunification was the principal means of "growing" the community.We lived in a small house in Drumheller until I was four (1948) and then moved into a Brilliant Coal Co. house in Midlandvale. While employed, my father bought that house from the Co. for $1,500.00 on April 9, 1958. It was a well-built, 2-bedroom house. My Father said it was one of the first houses in this area that was built from a plan, and it was one of the few that had an indoor toilet. He lived there until he had to move into the Sunshine Lodge when he was in his 80s. One of my daughters now owns and lives in that house.

My Father had a huge garden and spent most of his spare time there, or attending to making wine with choke cherries and raisins. He took great pride in his Italian tomatoes, which he grew from seeds sent to him from Italy.

At the age of 32, my Father married Tegla Stocco (age 26) the daughter of Santo and Luigia (Mozzocco) Stocco at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Drumheller, on July 4, 1943. My Mother was born in Drumheller on September 28, 1917. She had a heart condition as a youth and died suddenly on January 24, 1980, six weeks after having open heart surgery. My parents had two children – Gordon and Louise. Gordon became a lawyer and then a Provincial Court Judge in Drumheller. Louise graduated as a teacher and later went on to become a librarian.

My Father passed away on March 18, 2000, at the age of 89. He was healthy and alert to the end. My Father remained dedicated to his family and loyal to my mother, and never considered starting a new long-term relationship despite the several opportunities that came his way.

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