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      Diary of Felice De Angelis

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A diary that was written by Felice De Angelis in July/August and September 1914 has been found.  It contains a daily record of the two expeditions to locate a site for the Italian colony, the promised land.  The first group of six left Edmonton on July 27th 1914, travelling by train to Colinton, Alberta, and from there, with a team of horses and wagon, through the wilderness to the area that eventually became Venice, Alberta.

Gabriele Erasmi, a linguistic professor at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario, by chance at a convention in Rome, Italy, met a niece of De Angelis who had the diary that her uncle wrote in 1914.  A copy of the diary was made, and Dr. Erasmi brought it back to Hamilton.  He had the diary for over two years and it lay dormant because he was not familiar with Western Canada, and Venice, Alberta did not exist at the time that the diary was written, so he had no idea as to where the colony was located.

In 1994 at a convention in Ottawa, Ontario, Dr. Erasmi met an Italian professor from Edmonton and, during a leisurely discussion, the diary came up. The professor from Edmonton told Erasmi that he had two articles that were published in the local Italian Newspaper II Congresso about Venice.  Dr. Erasmi was overjoyed to get possession of the two articles.  One was written by Len Bonifacio and the other by Otto Michetti and the two names matched names in the diary.  With this information, he located the phone numbers of Bonifacio in Edmonton and he made contact with Tony Bonifacio.

In June 1994, Dr. Erasmi made a special trip to Edmonton and attended the annual church picnic in Venice.  Tony drove Dr. Erasmi to Venice via Colinton, following the approximate route recorded in the diary.  Dr. Erasmi spent four days in Venice - Hylo and Lac La Biche gathering information of the settlement from the local residents.  He also spent four days in Edmonton with Tony Bonifacio mostly at the Provincial Archives searching for more information and data that was recorded about the original pioneers of the year 1914.  Dr. Erasmi is currently writing a book on the diary, based on information he gathered while in Alberta.

The discovery of the Felice De Angelis diary was an extremely fortunate event.    Excerpts have been printed in the Hylo-Venice:  Havest of Memories community history book in 2000 and it was made available to the Heritage Community Foundation by Len Bonifacio through the unpublished history of Venice compiled by Tony Bonifacio titled Venice Alberta 1914:  The Pioneers and Others That Lived There.  The diary is available courtesy of Ms. Bigiaretti and Dr. Erasmi.

The Heritage Community Foundation is grateful to The Hylo-Venice History Book Committee, who published Hylo-Venice:  Havest of Memories  in 2000, for permission to make use of materials in the book including photographs and family histories.  We are also grateful to the Bonifacio family for permission to use materials in Anthony (Tony) Bonifacio's unpublished history Venice Alberta 1914:  The Pioneers and Others That Lived There, (1997).

Click on the image to read the diary of Felice De Angelis.The original diary was written in Italian.  A copy that has been translated into English follows.  Read the diary and follow the trail of the pioneers!  

Please Note:  The Heritage Community Foundation has added some stylistic elements to the presentation of the diary, and it is not the original document that follows.

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