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     Mario Grassi:  Oral History Transcript Summary

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Louis (Luigi)

Mike Biollo

Father Giovanni

Camillo Bridarolli

Mr. & Mrs. Henry

John Camarta

Domenico Chiarello

Joe Fabbri

Mario Grassi

Victor Losa

Filomena Michetti

Mrs. Mamie Meardi

Tony Nimis

Giorgio W. &
Norma Pocaterra

Mr. & Mrs. John

Romano Tedesco &
Mrs. Irma Giacobbo

Angelo Toppano

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A summary of the oral history transcript of Mario Grassi in which he discusses coming to Canada, employment, the Italian community in Calgary, the depression, and returning to Italy.

The Journey to Canada:

  • In 1910 he took the boat from Naples to New York which was a fifteen day journey. He then got on a train for five days that transported him to Calgary. He was 12 years old.

  • His cousin came to meet him and his father at the train shed. There was no station at that time, just a shed.


  • He went to work right away on the railroad until a truant officer caught him and sent him to school. He attended school for about two years before he left to go back to work again.

  • He got a job at the Palliser hotel, while his father moved to Kelowna B.C. in order to make some money to make payments on the house.

  • He then went to work as a shipper for 10 years before going back to the Palliser Hotel for the next 34 years. He worked a number of different jobs at the Palliser until his retirement.

  • While there he met many interesting people including a very young Peter Lougheed, and a couple of Prime Ministers.

Calgary and the Italian Community:

  • In 1910 the population of Calgary was about 26,000. He remembers Burns packing plant being there at that time.

  • At this time the Italian community consisted of about 40 or 50 families. They lived in the Riverside district of Calgary.

  • There was an Italian club started in 1918. The main club, Giovanni Caboto Lodge, was in Fernie B.C.

  • The club held picnics, dances, and other social functions designed to keep the community together.

  • Italians were accepted in the community and were recognized for their contributions. Mario says that relations with other ethnic groups for the most part were very friendly.

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