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Spinelli Family
Alessandro &
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Fiore M. Vecchio


Edmonton's Little Italy

Franco (Frank) Spinelli Franco (Frank) Spinelli emigrated from San Pietro al Tanagro near Naples in 1951.  He was the son of a local farmer but did not want to work on the land and chose to emigrate to Canada and work in the Yukon Territory in the silver mines.  Two years later, he broke his back at work and the company sent him to hospital in Edmonton where he remained in traction for a year-and-a-half. After healing,  for a number of years he did casual labour. 

In 1960, he married Rina Quagliarello, a hometown girl chosen by his Mother.  The marriage took place in Italy by proxy and shortly thereafter she joined him in Edmonton.  In 1959, The Italian Centre Shop dominated Edmonton's Little Italy and is a draw for those seeking Italian products.  Photo courtesy of Adriana Albi Davies he bought a small store with his partner Remiro Zalunardo, on the corner of 95th Street and 108th Avenue and the rest is history.  About 1964, he took over the store and the Italian Centre Shop grew to a wholesale empire that supplies stores and restaurants throughout western Canada.  His wife, daughter Teresa and son, Pietro (who died tragically young shortly after his 32nd birthday in 1996) all worked in the store.  

Frank is remembered with affection by the community as a man generous with both his possessions and his time.  He was involved in setting up and supporting many of Edmonton's Italian organizations and bringing Italian entertainers to the City.  While uninterested in himself holding political office, he was the friend of many politicians who were hosted at card games and cookouts on his patio in his homes on 95th Street. Mrs. Spinelli has also supported Italian societies such as the Ladies of the Holy Rosario of the Santa Maria Goretti Parish.

Teresa Spinelli was born in October, 1961, and has, in her own right, supported the Italian community.  Through her work in the Giovanni Caboto Society and many inner-city organizations,  she has supported community development.  She also assisted in the development of the decorative signage and street furniture that characterizes Edmonton's Little Italy in 2002. Teresa married Michael Nimis in October, 1999.

The oral history interview with Mrs. Rina Spinelli and Mrs. Teresa (Spinelli) Nimis was conducted as part of the Celebrating Edmonton's Italian Community Oral History Project, funded by the Edmonton Community Lottery Board.


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