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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Sports and Recreation

A group of Italian shareholders established the "Sunshine Camp" two miles north of Wayne in 1921.  All of the workers were Italian and they and their families created a community that both worked and played together.  The three accordion players, guitarist and violinist would have played folk songs from home such as "O Sole Mio" ("My Sunshine") and "CE la Luna a Mezzo Mare" ("The Moon is Shining on the Sea").  Angelo Montemurro is seen playing the violin but everyone joined in the singing.While all family and community histories testify to how hard the men and women of mining communities worked, all note that they made time for recreational activities and activities. Italian immigrants brought their love of music to the new world and their faces can be seen in the colliery bands, a tradition in British mines but also in the "self-made" orchestras that graced home and community events. Spaghetti dinners in Miners’ Halls, weddings and fraternal society gatherings provided an opportunity to make music and enjoy communal life. Italians from rural communities brought with them a love of the land and of hunting. They, thus, hunted and fished gathering trophies to decorate their homes and to brag about during long winter evenings.

Everyone who has witnessed the World Cup frenzy knows that Italians are soccer mad!  It was inevitable that the concentration of miners in the Drumheller Valley would produce a soccer team.  Jim Stocco is in the back row, first left, and Reno Stocco is second from the right.  The Stocco family came to Canada from Italy in 1913, settling in Calgary, before moving on to Drumheller.  In 1921, they were part of the group of Italian shareholders who developed the Sunshine Mine near Wayne.But there were also exceptional individuals who exploited their personal love of the land for the public good. Lawrence Grassi, a miner who worked in Canmore, became a renowned mountaineer and outdoorsman. His love of the Twin falls area, near Field, BC, prompted him to cut a path from Sulphur Springs to the foot of the mountain where the falls tumble down and to the creek, which is the source of the falls. He received an honorary life membership in the Alpine Club of Canada and the Canadian Youth Hostel Association. Parks Canada also recognized him by making him the assistant warden annually from June to November at Sargent’s Point (named for the painter John Singer Sargent who painted there in 1915) at Lake O’Hara. He had landscaped the grounds and trails in his spare time and also when strikes closed mines where he was working. In 1938, legislation changed the name of the Twin Lakes in Whiteman’s Pass to Grassi Lakes.

Finally, Italian boys and young men played Canadian games such as hockey, baseball and football—games that promoted integration.

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