Angelo Toppano arrived in Coleman (via New York and Montreal)
on May 9, 1913, from the province of Udine in northern Italy.
Angelo was 15 at the time, and joined his father who had come to
Coleman in 1906 to make enough money to return home and provide
a better standard of living for his family. Although Angelo was
15 years old, in school he was placed in grade 3 with 8 year
olds - and felt very out of place! Despite his father's wish for
a good education, Angelo decided to work picking rock on the
coal mine tipple, but to please his dad he also attended school
at night. Angelo worked in the mines for awhile and eventually
opened and operated a general store in Coleman. He believed that
small independent businesses were the "backbone of the nation".
The interview was conducted by Charles Grelli for the Dante
Alighieri Oral History Project in 1973.
This oral history project was initiated by Sabatino Roncucci,
a founder of the Dante Alighieri Society, for the purpose of
documenting immigration history so that it could be shared not
only with the Italian community but also the community at large.
Toppano: Oral History Excerpts
Angelo Toppano describes east Coleman, or "Bushtown", where
he lived when he first arrived in 1913.
Click here to listen!