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     Alessandro and Lina Urso: Oral History Transcript Summary 

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Carlo & Lina 

Rudy & Rita 

Mary Biollo Doyle

Tony Falcone

Bill Nigro

 Sabatino Roncucci

Spinelli Family
Alessandro &
Lina Urso

Fiore M. Vecchio


Page 1   |  2   |  3

Lina and Alessandro Urso, 2002.  Photo taken by David Ridley of the Heritage Community Foundation.The discussion centred around Urso's emigration experience, community activities and family life.


  • Mr. Urso was motivated to emigrate because, though he had a job after graduation, in Genoa, working in a lab (Instituto of Pharmacologia at the University of Genoa), he felt that it was not possible to get ahead in the Italy of the mid-sixties. Though post-war reconstruction had been successful, the economy was depressed and it was a period of unrest centering around the economy. 

  • He saw a newspaper advertisement that didn't even use the term immigration-it talked simply of transferire, that is, transfer to another country; within three months he was on a boat and arrived in Halifax at Pier 21 around Labour Day, 1966; his destination, determined by Canadian Immigration was Armstrong, P.Q. He had no English and scholastic French. He had a great time on the boat; he and other young men (he was 22 years old) partied the whole seven days and he arrived exhausted but excited in Halifax and then went by train to Armstrong, which was a small border town on the Maine border; there it was suggested that he go to Sherbrooke, the nearest city, and he did; he traveled on an old wooden train; had expected the red carpet but this didn't happen; Immigration gave him contact names and he took a cab to the Maison St. Georges run by priests; he ended up spending the night in a huge dorm and next day realized that he was in a shelter run by Father Beni Fratelli; this was his first night in Canada and was not what he expected; he then found room and board but could not find a job; Immigration suggested that he try Quebec City; same experience and moved on to Montreal; realized Canadian government couldn't get him a job so he found room and board and a job in a lab at Domo Chemicals.

  • Lina's experience was different because she emigrated with her family as a young child; her family came from a small rural community in Calabria; Father decided to come to Edmonton in 1952; already had friends there; worked for the railways in camps in northern part of the province; eventually got a job in Edmonton; three years later, he sponsored his wife and four children; "Mother was very brave to come with four children, seven days on the boat. People were very helpful"; then, 4/5 days to Edmonton by train; only memory was of arriving at the train station and being picked up and kissed by a man who she didn't know who was her Father

  • Remembers close sense of community-other families helped them (particularly Rago family from the same home town); he Father Vincenzo Annichiarico came with Carmen Rago; her Father had a fully-furnished house for them; older siblings started school in grades below their age because they did not have any English; she stayed at home and became her mother's translator; children had to change their names to fit in-Giovanni became Joan, Giuseppina became Josephine and, she Raffaela became Lina; tried had to learn the language and teach their parents; to this day, they speak English to their Father [Mother is deceased] and feels that her Italian became weaker as a result of this decision to emphasize English

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