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Crow's Nest Pass
Italian Pioneers

Italian Pioneers

Coal Branch
Italian Pioneers

Italian Pioneers

Year of the Coal Miner September 2003 - 2004

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Crowsnest Pass Italians mentioned in local history Crowsnest and Its People:

  • Francesco Alampi and family-Giuseppe (Joseph) Alampi, in his 50's, and his son Francesco (Frank) Alampi(18) came through Ellis Island in the late 1890's from Pellaro, Reggio Calabria, Italia. They arrived in the Crowsnest Pass in 1900. Giuseppe, after a short time went back to Italy and Francesco stayed in the area and mined coal at Lille and in Coleman. Francesco became a Canadian citizen in 1905 when Alberta was still part of the Northwest Territories and was soon called Frank by all who knew him. Frank went back and forth to Italy many times, once to marry Angela Oliva in 1907 another time in 1909 after the horrendous earthquake in Southern Italy to help his family rebuild their home. His father and mother were two of the thousands of people killed in the town of Pellaro and area.

    He found himself visiting Italy in 1914 when World War 1 started and he joined the Italian Armed Forces that were allied with the British Commonwealth against the Kaiser of Germany. He returned to Canada in 1919, worked at International Coal and Coke mine and made return trips to Italy at other times.

    In the early 1900's Francesco was a founding member and at times was part of the elected officials of the Crowsnest Pass Chapter of the Italian Society as he could read and write Italian. The Italians in the Crowsnest Pass were at first part of the Societa Italiana di Mutuo Soccorso (Italian Society) under the Grand Lodge (Confederazione Columbiana). They later withdrew from the Grand Lodge to form their own Canadian Grand Lodge (Ordine Indipendente Fior D'Italia at Fernie, B.C. This Lodge encompassed Italian members from Fernie, B.C. through to the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. Frank was a member throughout his life and as well all of Frank's children belonged to the Italian Society and enjoyed banquets, dances and parties in the Italian hall as well as picnics in the summertime.

    Frank's daughter Giovanna Alampi (Joanne 21) and his son Giuseppe (Joe 14) came to Coleman in 1929. Following in 1931 were his wife Angela Oliva, and his other four children, Genoeffa (Effa/Jenny 21) Francesco(Frankie 13), Anna 12, and Giuseppa (Josie 4). The first home of the Alampi's was in West Coleman and the second home(in 1933) was on Main Street in Coleman and still is the Alampi residence in 2004. The Alampi family had post office box # 33 since the opening of the Post Office in Coleman and is still registered in the Alampi name.

    Giovanna Alampi married Giorgio Aristone in 1929, George came to Canada from Pellaro, Reggio Calabria in 1921 at the age of 17 and left behind his mother, brother and stepfather. He mainly mined Coal at International Coal and Coke. He loved to fish and garden and was also a member of the Italian Society. George died in 1962 a young man of 59. Giovanna died in year 2000 at the age of 92.

    Giuseppe Alampi (Joe) mined coal at International Coal and Coke until the sixties, at which time he was in a horrific mine accident. Not able to work since then, he bore his handicaps with great fortitude until he died in May of 2003. Catharine Mascherin-Alampi still lives in the Main Street House. Frank Alampi (Jr) also worked at International Coal and Coke until his death in 1946.

    Genoeffa Alampi married Pietro Rizzo, also from Pellaro, in 1931. Joe Alampi married Catarina Mascherin, Anna Alampi married Jack Marconi, Josie Alampi married Harvy Swanson and then Andrew Hurtak of Hillcrest. Descendants of the Alampi children are:

    Giovanna--Josie Aristone, Genoeffa--Gino Rizzo, Joe--Nidia and Vivia Alampi, Anna--John and Arlene Marconi, Josie--Danny and Diane Swanson.

    Giovanna, Giuseppe and Francesco Jr. as well as Francesco Alampi Sr. and his wife Angela Oliva are now deceased. The matriarch of the family is now Genoeffa (Aunty Effa/Jenny) Alampi-Rizzo, now living at York Creek Lodge in Blairmore and who is in year 2004 approaching 94 years of age.

    The Alampi family were related to the Oliva Family of Italian Town, through Angela Oliva-Alampi.

    Angela Oliva Alampi's brothers, Leandro and Giovanni Oliva owned the Italian grocery store in Italian town in the early years, called "J. Oliva & Cousin" It was later sold and became Topanno's. Her uncle was Francesco Oliva of Italian town and he and his wife Teresa, all from Pellaro, raised their family in Coleman.

  • Frank Amatto-Lived 1891-1971. He  emigrated from San Giavanni-in-Fiore, Italy in 1904 with 2 brothers. Frank eventually settled in Blairmore after having worked for CPR in Corbin B.C., Blairmore, Vancouver, Creston, Nordegg & Grouard. He also worked in coal mines and in construction for Charlie Sartoris, and became a "rum runner'' for Emilio Picariello in 1917. He  Married Victoria Lonetti in 1914, and had 3 children, John, Rossi & Katie, before Victoria passed away of a sudden illness.  He married Marietta Misuraca in 1923 with whom he had 10 children - Clara, Julia, Dora, Eleanor, Joe, Lucy, Roccy, Donald & Robert.

  • Amatto Children: Mike, Charlie, Jim, Julia, Ernest, Joe.Frank Amatto Family-Frank and his wife were both born in Italy, but met and married in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1898 where 2 sons were born.  Moved out west to work in coal mines at Michel and Hosmer, B.C., and Frank and Blairmore in Alberta, for the West Canadian Collieries Ltd. until his death in 1933.  Mrs. Amatto, midwife, passed away in 1962.  Of the 11 children they had, six survived:

    • James, born in Brooklyn, married Mary Carevetti, 1921, had 3 children and moved to Vancouver; 

    • Joe, born in Brooklyn,  married the late Nancy Galeoti in 1935 with whom he had 2 children who live in Blairmore, remarried Helen Neratko of Bellevue; 

    • Julia, born in Michel, married the late Emmanuel Mereu in 1928, had 3 children and moved to London, Ontario; 

    • Ernest was born in Michel; 

    • Mike was born in Hosmer; 

    • Charlie, born in Blairmore, married Mary Pyplacz in 1945, had two children, reside in Blairmore.

  • Joe and Brigida Joe and Brigida AschacherAschacher-Both born in Macugnaga, Province of Novara, in northern Italy. Joe in 1884, Brigida in 1883. Joe came to Lille in 1905 where he started a 45 year mining career.  He went back to Italy in 1910, married Brigida, had a daughter Olga (married name Martini) then returned to Canada & lived in Bellevue where 2 sons Martin and Henry (d.1968) were born.  In 1916 the family moved to Blairmore where Joe brought 3 of his brothers Battista, Pete & John over - Matthew remained in Italy; they all worked at Greenhill Mine for West Canadian Collieries - Joe, until he retired in 1950.  He was  an original member of the Coleman Italian Society founded in Lille, and served on Blairmore's Town Council. He passed away in 1959, and Brigida died in 1978 at the Crestview Lodge in Pincher Creek.

  • PPeter and Mary Aschachereter and Mary Aschacher-Peter born 1893 (d.1969) in the village of Domodossola, Province of Novara, Northern Italy, of German-Dutch-Swiss descent, joined brothers Joe,  Battista & John in the mines of Blairmore in 1920.  Married Mary Emelia Brunetto in 1920.  She was born c1902 in the town of  Brosso, Province of Torina, Northern Italy and emigrated with parents, Maria and Alessio, to Bellevue in 1906.  Peter and Mary had 5 children, Eleanor (Mrs. Emil Blas),  Alvirna (Mrs. Peter Graham), Natalie (Mrs. R. Heembrock), Michael, and Marilyn (Mrs. K. Barbour); the family was active in St. Anne's parish and other community organizations. 

  • David Avoledo- Mr. and Mrs. David AvoledoDavid was born in 1888 (d.1958), in Valvasone, Udine Province, in northern Italy; came to Canada with 2 brothers in 1905, coal mining in Hosmer, B.C.  Returned to Italy for 3-year military duty, married Elisabetta Lucia Nocente, returned to Canada alone, mined at Lille where he helped establish the Italian Society, then worked for West Canadian Collieries in Blairmore & Bellevue until retirement in 1950.  Wife, Elisa was born in the same town as David in 1890 (d.1959).  Came to Blairmore in 1913 when David sent for her and had 3 children Gueriono Umberto "Jerry" (b.1914 in Blairmore, married Grace Goodwin in 1941), Alberto Luigi (b.1917 in Frank, married Marguerite Cornez from Coleman in 1946), and Berta Caterina (b.1921 in Bellevue, taught school, married Bruno Alec Yagos in 1943).  The family took in boarders, mostly relatives, and survived difficult times in the 1930s.

  • Mr. and Mrs Paul Baratelli Paul Baratelli-Paul was born NW Italy c.1884 (d.1970), and apprenticed as a blacksmith. He emigrated to Canada in 1900.  Paul worked for CPR at Michel, B.C., and blacksmithed at mines & logging camps throughout southern B.C. & NW states.  His mail-order bride came from the same area of Italy in 1908 (b.1892) and they had 2 sons, Paris and Arnold, in Corbin, B.C., an isolated company town comprised of many nationalities. In 1920 the family moved to Blairmore where Paul was blacksmith for West Canadian Collieries and in his own shop.

  • Joe Basso-Joe BassoJoe emigrated from Italy in 1911, and worked for the CPR at Hosmer, then the mines as Lille, Police Flats, Hillcrest & Bellevue as electrician, retiring in 1956.  Mrs. Basso joined Joe in Bellevue in 1920 with two of their children, Joe Jr.(d.1969) and Elda (married Guerino Marcolin, widow, remarried Nick Renyk), had 3 more, Lino (married Marie Huges in Wainwright) , Elio (married Emilia Fidenato in Bellevue) & Lydia (married Don Acorn, Edmonton & Whitehorse), and died shortly after, in 1925.  Joe moved to Cadomin in 1932 where he remarried Maimie Dotto; died 1963.

  • Battel Family-Angelo left his family in Itay and came to Canada in 1906, but returned shortly after.  In 1912 he & son Pete (1895-1967; married Anglina Morrello, widowed, remarried to Grace Pagnucco) emigrated to Utah where son John (1897-1976; married Rosa Leon) joined them in 1914, before moving to Lethbridge in 1916 and then to Frank in 1920 whereupon they were joined by wife Justina Zol, 2 daughters Maria (b.1903; married Umberto Pagnucco), Anna (b.1910; married Angelo Pasutto) and a son Battesto "Tito" (b.1911; married Eda Marcolin).  In 1921 the family moved to Blairmore where Angelo worked for West Canadian Collieries.

  • John (Etimio) Berlingieri-John was John & Mary Berlingieri and Familyborn 1906 in Campobasso, Italy. He worked as cook at Hillcrest upon arrival in Canada c1923. John moved to Coleman in 1924, and worked at McGillvray mine.  He married Mary Ferrara in 1931 (d.1950) and had 5 children, Marie (Mrs. Victor Cervo of Blairmore), Josie (Mrs. Peter Kroeker of Lethbridge), Ferucio ("Fiore", married Anita Van Leuken of Lethbridge, 1959, and moved to Edmonton), Louie, and Florence (deceased, married Tony De Lauw).  In 1934 he opened a grocery & dry goods store with father-in-law Mike Ferrara. In 1936 John built & operated a 16 room apartment house on Second Street (known as Italian Town).  He also worked in mines at Michel and Blairmore.  After he became widowed, John married Adelina Monaco from Italy; retirement spent in Coleman. Slim Bevilacqua, late 1920's

  • Abbondio (Slim) Bevilacqua-Slim came to Canada 1922, and worked for CPR in Crowsnest area.  He returned to Italy in early 1930s, married, returned to settle in Hillcrest, and died very young before his wife and daughter came to Canada.

  • Palmo Carmen (Charles) Biafore-Palmo was born in 1888, and emigrated to Canada in the early 1900s from the town of P Marietta Biafore and Louis.ietrafitta, district of Cosenza, province of Calabria, Italy.  All of his mother's (Conchetta Maida's) 7 siblings emigrated to the Okanagan Valley area of B.C.  Charles mined in Kimberley, B.C. before moving to Blairmore where he started a fruit & vegetable business. He returned to Italy 1920, and married childhood sweetheart Marietta Imbrogno (b.1899 in Pietrafitta), then returned to Blairmore to continue business. Their son, Luigi Antonio (b.1921; married Helen Siska of Coleman, 1946), and wife joined Charles in 1927.  It wasn't a warm reception when Charles went to greet his family on the train in Medicine Hat - for one, it was one of the coldest Canadian winters on record, and two, 6 year old Louis, having never seen his father before, kicked him when he put his arms around his wife to greet her!  "It was quite some time before I [Louis] accepted him as my father."  Five more children were born to the family, Frank (b.1928; married Marianina Acquino of Toronto), Angelina (b.1929; Mrs. Hector Rae of Blairmore), Dora (b.1930; Mrs. Stanley Kiselczuk), Anna (passed away at childbirth), and Rocchi (b.1934 - on the day of his father's funeral).  Marietta died in 1970, and a tragic accident claimed the life of Rocchi in 1972.  Both Louis & Rocchi had singing talent with their baritone voices.  Louis had the honor of being the only non-Welshman in the Welsh Choir in Blairmore.

  • Vincenzo Bifano-Vincenzo (Jim) Bifano immigrated to Canada on his own. He was one of the earliest miners in the Nordegg area, working there in 1911, when the mines first were begun. He and his wife, Eva, had three children, all born in Nordegg: Irene (1920), Jim (1921), and Peter (1923). In 1927 or 1928, the family relocated to Rossland B.C. The youngest son, Pete, returned to Nordegg in 1942 to work for Brazeau Collieries. He married Elsie Grabek. 

  • Peter Bodio-Peter was born 1903 in northern Italy into a large farming family.  He came to Canada as a sojourner, hoping to stay 3 years to earn enougPeter Bodioh to pay off family debts.  Peter arrived in Blairmore in 1920; worked a very short time for West Canadian Collieries Ltd. because of language difficulties. He then worked for his Uncle, Charles Sartoris, driving team horses in logging business.  He returned to Italy in 1930, and came back again in 1932 to marry Lena Marrette & settle in Blairmore. Peter logged for Uncle Sartoris, mined for West Canadian Collieries Ltd., and started a sawmill with cousin Pete Sartoris and continued running it with son Joseph (b.1937; married Mary Miklusek of Hillcrest) until lumber markets failed in 1964.  He still kept a team of horses as a hobby on the property where the sawmill had been (known fondly as the "Ponderosa"). 

  • Andy Bosetti-Andy was born 1891 in Italy, and came to Hosmer B.C. in 1914, the year the mine closed. He stayed in Fernie, B.C. until the mine explosion in 1917, and then settled in Hillcrest & worked in construction as a bricklayer.  Married Chiara, who came from Italy, in 1919 and had 2 daughters, Enis (Mrs. Louis Petrini of Bellevue) and Cara.

  • Louis & Elida Bossetti-Louis was born in 1901, and grew up on a farm north of Milan. He emigrated to Blairmore in 1920 after hearing stories from Mr. Malnati, a railroad worker on the Crowsnest Line who came to Canada in the 1880s and returned to Italy in 1903.  Louis worked in construction for E.J. Pozzi and later for West Canadian Collieries Ltd. until Greenhill mine closed in 1958.  Elida, Mr. Malnati's daughter, and Louis' were childhood sweethearts. She joined & married Louis in Blairmore in 1925.  They had one daughter. Louis died in 1977.

  • John Bovio-John arrived in Bellevue from Italy in 1910. He was a miner, and played in Bellevue Band.  His wife, Irene, arrived in 1912,. They had 3 children, Johnnie (drowned 1927, year of his high school graduation), Eva (Mrs. John Raymaker), and Vera (Mrs. Joe Krkosky, husband killed in Greenhill mine in 1944, remarried Richard Vernon).  John died 1938, Irene, 1959.  Both are buried in Bellevue.

  • Paul Caletti-Paul CalettiPaul was born in 1879, at the town of Mornago, in northern Italy. He emigrated 1904 to Frank, Alberta. He worked as a railworker, and miner in  Frank & Hillcrest.  In 1910 sent for & married Virginia (b.1892). They raised hay & horses (in partnership with Tony Cortinovis & Mike Tenconi) for the Army, RCMP, and the local mines. Virginia became a midwife, and friends of native Indians & many other nationalities in the Burmis area.  They had 3 children, Candida (b.1911, marriage in 1929 was first performed in the Burmis church), Peter (b.1913, stayed on family farm), and Louise (b.1915, married, resides in Coleman).  Paul died in 1961.


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