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     Venice Hylo:  Italian Pioneers

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Year of the Coal Miner September 2003 - 2004

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  • Guiseppe (Joe) and Margaret (nee Tremblay) Tisi-Guiseppe (Joe) Tisi was born in Zungoli, Italy on February 16, 1886.  Margaret Tisi.In 1901, at the age of 19, he ventured far from his homeland and arrived in New York probably Ellis Island, in the USA.  For nine years, Joe worked as a baker in New York, Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine.  Looking for a better and more prosperous life, Joe found himself headed for Canada and in 1914, arriving in Venice.  Once there, he worked for the Northern Alberta Railways as a section man.  On May 16, 1918, Joe married Margaret Tremblay in O.J. Biollo's store in Venice.  Joe and Margaret lived in a bunkhouse in Venice where their first two children, Concettina (Connie) Mary and Vincent James (Jimmy) were born.  The family moved to a small farm approximately four miles south of O.J. Biollo's store.  They lived on the farm for seven years.  Some time later, Joe bought a farm in the vicinity and lived there until 1934.  While on this farm, five more children were born to the couple.  They were Annetta Carmella (Harriett), Rosa (Rosie), Jacomine, Alice and Elda.  Jacomine died of pneumonia while on the farm and Elda passed away in the Athabasca Hospital from appendicitis in 1936.  At this time, Emile, the youngest son, was born.  Joe continued to work as a permanent section man with the NAR until he retired at the age of 65.  After his retirement, he worked with Carlo Meardi for the Department of Highways.  Margaret, who had been ill for many years and confined to a wheelchair, passed away at the age of 54 on August 28, 1955.  Joe, who spent the balance of his retired years in Lac La Biche and Athabasca, passed away at the age of 83 in August 1968. 

  • Anthony and Mary (nee Dmytruszynski) Torresan-Mary and Tony Torresan.  Photo from Venice Alberta 1914:  The Pioneers and Others That Lived ThereAnthony Torresan was born February 14, 1899 in San Zenoni, Italy and emigrated to Canada in 1922.  On arriving in Edmonton, he first took a barbering course, and then moved to Venice where he found work in the local flour mill.  In Venice, he also met Mary Dmytruszynski, who was living with her married sister, Annie Biollo. Torresan Family Mary was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on August 5, 1905, and was the youngest daughter of Victoria and Mike Elniski.  Mary and Anthony were married on July 17, 1926 and were the first couple to be married in the Venice Church.  They then moved to Wayne, Alberta where Anthony worked in the coal mines and where they had their first child, Mary, in 1927.  Returning to Venice in 1929, they proceeded to homestead on the SW¼ 12-65-15-W4.  Mary and Anthony had five more children, all born in Venice: Nick, Valentine, Victoria, Mike, and Paul.  Anthony and Mary continued to farm in Venice until 1972, when ill health forced them to move to Edmonton.  Mary passed away in June 1983, and Anthony in January 1987. 
    Son Nicholas Torresan was born in 1929.  He taught himself to play guitar and wrote songs.  He helped his father on the farm and, in 1959, he married Agnes Duperron.  At that time was working on the railroad in Waterways.  The couple had six children; Anita, Mark, Gilbert, Harvey, Robert and Nicole.  Nick injured his back in 1964 and the family moved to Edmonton so that he could be treated in the Rehabilitation Centre.  Torresan Family
    Michael Thomas (Mike) Torresan
    was born in 1938.  Dean, Mason, Wendy and Brayned TorresanAt age 17, he went to work in Uranium City as a high rigger returning to the farm in 1957.  He married Delores Gerard from Breyant, Alberta, in 1959, and worked on various rigs and pipelines around Alberta.  He farmed with his Father in summer and then worked the rigs and pipelines in winter.  The couple had five children; Shirley, Wendy, Corry, Michelle and Dean.

  • Ascenzio and Rosalia Varze-Ascenzio Varze emigrated to Canada from Italy in 1910.  He was accompanied by his two brothers-in-law, Joseph and Paul Michetti.  They worked at various jobs such as railroads, mining, and construction on the Grand Trunk Line Railway.  Ascenzio Varze was an original homesteader of the Venice-Hylo area in 1914 and his homestead was T65 R15 NW34.  Rosalia Varze, and her three children, Anthony, John and Mary arrived in Canada in 1920, and Vincent, the eldest son, came in 1921.  The family stayed with the Joseph Michetti family until a four-room house could be constructed. Varze Family There, in January of 1921, the parents were blessed with their last child, a daughter Adelina.  The brothers and Ascenzio farmed on a small scale at Hylo, raising cattle and growing grain.  Rosalia was a trained (but not certified) midwife.  She worked under a local doctor in her hometown of Coropoli, Italy.  Son Anthony Varze helped his Father on the farm.  In 1932, he married Ruby and they had four children;  Elda, Roger, Donald and Ronald.  He won a contest to attend the Moler Barber School in Edmonton and on his return, in 1942, he opened a barber shop in Lac La Biche.  He subsequently operated the local drug store with Dr. William Cadzow and then opened a dry cleaning and tailoring establishment with his brother Vincent who had trained as a tailor in Italy.  In 1958, Tony and Ruby moved to Edmonton where she continued to teach.  The brothers then operated a novelty store in Edmonton until their retirement in 1971.

  • Antonio and Carmela (nee Tisi) Zevola-On July 24, 1902 Antonio Zevola was born in Zungoli, Avelino, Italy.  Carmela Tisi ,also from Zungoli, was born on January 22, 1890.  Vincent and Doris Zevola, 1949Antonio and Carmela were married on November 11, 1921 and had one son, Vincent, who was born on August 9, 1922.  Antonio preceded his family to Canada in February, 1925.  He emigrated to the Venice area where he first worked in the bush area by making ties for the railroad. Carmela Zevola, 1947 He then worked for the Northern Alberta Railways for 20 years, first as a section hand and later as a section foreman.  Carmela and Vincent joined him in October, 1927.  Although Antonio was not a farmer, in 1928, he took a homestead across from the Venice School.  A log house was built on this homestead in 1929.  Later, in 1929, work on the land was commenced by Rudolph Michetti with his Rumley tractor.  Antonio and Carmela moved to Edmonton in 1952.  Carmela passed away in January, 1980 while Antonio (at the time of the publication of Hylo-Venice:  Harvest of Memories in 2000) is residing in an extended care centre in Edmonton.  He quite regularly entertains the staff with his vitality and his renditions of Italian love ballads. 
    Vincent Zevola
    attended the Venice school until 1937 and then worked for four years with Salvatore Giacobbo on the Giacobbo homestead.  Zevola's - four of themVincent also worked on the family homestead.  He married Doris Kirylchuk in 1949 and they built their own home on the original Zevola homestead.  The couple had three children:  Dennis, Judy and Randy.


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