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     Venice Hylo:  Italian Pioneers

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  • Vincenzio and Elizabeth (nee Tremblay) Donofrio-Vincenzio was born August 10, 1888 in Villemagna, Chieti - Italy. Vincenzio (Jim) Donofrio He was an orphan when he emigrated to Canada in 1903 at age 15 with his aunt and cousin. He was an original homesteader in 1914 in the Venice-Hylo area and his homestead was T65 R15 SW36.  Elizabeth Tremblay was born November 20, 1900 at Egg Lake, Alberta. Elizabeth Donofrio, Margaret Tisi, Jim Donofrio in background Vincenzio and Elizabeth were married on December 10, 1917 in Venice.  They had seven children: Nicholas, Margaret, Frank, Virginia, Yvonne, Valentine, and Leo.  Vincenzio was a foreman on the Northern Alberta Railways and they lived in the section house for many years.  The family raised cattle, horses, chickens, hogs, and guinea hens. Nick Donofrio in the army. Aside from the many chores of homesteading, Elizabeth was also a midwife and brought 52 babies into the world in the Venice-Hylo area.  Vincenzio died in November 1964, fighting a battle with cancer.  Elizabeth died in October 1984 of Alzheimer's Disease as well as cancer.  Son Nick worked for the NAR and enlisted in the Army and was killed in action.  Philip worked for the NAR as a fireman and crane operator.  Son Frank also worked for the NAR for 35 years.  1

  • Luigi and Albina (Buzzi) Fabbro-Luigi was born in Camino, Udine, Italy on June 13, 1875.  He came to Canada alone in the spring of 1914.  Luigi and Albina FabbroHe arrived in Michel, BC, and worked on a railroad and in a coal mine in Fernie, BC.  In 1920, Luigi moved to Venice and filed for a homestead with Mr. Guerra.  In 1921, his family-wife, Albina and four children-came to join him.  They came from Genoa to Quebec City by boat (the Garcia).  Fabbro FamilyIn 1923, the family moved to Mountain Park in the Coal Branch, where Luigi worked in the coal mine until 1926.  From there they moved to Sangudo and bought the farm from Guss Hagg.  Luigi died at the age 85, in September 1960, and Albina died in 1964.  The couple had five children (Ida, Aurora, Albert, John and Mary).  Mary, the youngest, was the only one of the children born in Canada, in Venice, Alberta in 1922.  Rita Ferro married John Fabbro in 1952 and they lived on the family farm until 1964.  They then moved to Lac La Biche where they bought the Mission land from the Oblate Fathers and farmed and raised cattle until 1974 when they retired.  They had seven children; Louis, Joseph, Anthony, Margaret, Amelia, Irene and Dina. 2

  • Francesco and Daria Ferro-Bruno and Dorothy FerroFrancesco Ferro came to Canada around 1917 with his Father Aurilio, from the Udine area of Italy. They applied for, and were granted, rights to a homestead SE_17-65-4-W4 in Venice, Alberta, where other Italian families had already settled.  Daria Simonetti followed Francesco (Frank) to Venice about two years later, with a friend.  Daria and Frank were married in 1920 in the Catholic faith, and settled into a small log house on their homestead.  Their first born, Bruno, was born in the house, arriving on June 13, 1922, followed by Lucy (deceased), Rita, Aurilio (Lello) and Ben.  Frank worked clearing land on the homestead and as foreman on a crew building corduroy roads through areas of muskeg.  Daria also worked the homestead and remained in the original log house until she was hospitalized in Edmonton and passed away in 1970.  She survived her husband, Frank, by twelve years as Frank had been killed in an accident in 1958.  Bruno served in the Army in WWII and on his return bought the family farm under the Veterans Land Act.  In 1969, he married Charlotte Horsford.   He worked as a cook at the Alberta Vocational Centre in Lac La Biche for 19 years until his retirement in 1987. 3

  • Secondo Edwardo and Maria Fornari-Secondo Edwardo Fornari, born in Zan Zonone di Esseline, Alfredo, Danillo, Maria, Secondo and Josephine Fornari.Italy, in 1888, and his wife Maria, born in 1898 (also in Zan Zonone), emigrated to Canada in 1927, following the advice of Maria's brother.  They landed in Halifax, and boarded a westbound train for Venice, where they arrived on July 13, 1927, the last Italian settlers to arrive.  Their young sons, nine year old Daniello, and seven year old Alfredo, also came with them.  A third child, Josephine, arrived several years later in 1941.  They settled on NW_1-66-15-W4, a farm previously owned by Pietro Piemonte and his son Teophile.  His first job was painting the new church.  Maria collected money to have a statue of the Holy Redeemer bought and shipped from Italy.  Secondo got work on the farm but he found he had to supplement his income by working on the highway crews and in the neighboring fields of Joe Biollo. In the winter, he labored in the tie camp.  Maria, meanwhile, cared for the home and the boys, occasionally working for Mrs. Joe Biollo.  In the mid-1960s, Maria received a visit from her long-lost brother Johnny and his wife, Margaret, whom she had not seen since moving to Venice.  In the summer of 1969, Secondo received his first and only visit from his brother, Primo, who at the age of 83, flew from Italy to spend three weeks at the farm.  Shortly after Primo's visit, Secondo became very ill and he transferred the farm to Alfredo and Daniello.  Secondo, Maria and Daniello moved to Edmonton to live with Alfredo and Elizabeth.  After a lengthy illness, Secondo passed away on July 17, 1974.  Maria joined him in January 1987.  4

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