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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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The following names and family histories have been drawn from Toni Ross' Oh The Coal Branch:  A Chronicle of the Alberta Coal Branch (Calgary:  D. Friesen and Sons Ltd., 1974).  Mrs. Ross' husband, James C. Ross, was a CNR fireman on the Coal Branch line.

  • Victor Alleggretto-He was one of five miners killed when a torrent of water broke through panel pillars from an old mine working in Cadomin on August 5th, 1942.  
  • Baruzzini Family-John Baruzzini came from Italy to work in the Crow's Nest Pass and other mines. He settled in Mountain Park in 1921. In 1922 he returned to Italy to marry and a daughter, Mary, was born in Italy. Other children were born in Mountain Park and they include Zita, Silvino, Dora, Isidor, Loretta, Caroline and Secondo.  In 1944 John lost his eyesight and in 1950 moved to Luscar were two of his sons worked in the strip mines.  After those mines closed, the family moved to Edmonton where Mr. Baruzzini senior died in 1957.  A son, Secondo, was killed in Canmore four months earlier while working for Mannix Construction and both are buried in Edmonton. Silvino worked in Nordegg and in construction after the closing of the mine and, finally, worked for the Alberta Liquor Control Board in Edmonton. Silvino and sons John and Robert return to the Coal Bank to fish, hike and shoot.
  • P. Baruzzini-This individual was a member of the Executive of the 1917 Cross Club of Mountain Park (supporters of the Hon. O.C.W. Cross). 
  • Melio Bello-Melio was the assistant ranger at Mountain park, and played for the Luscar Indians Intermediate Hockey Team in 1940.  [Additional information from Anne Belliveau, historian, who writes: Lolli Bello lived in Nordegg for awhile.  I taught his twins, Dwayne and Darren, in Nordegg _ Grade 5, before the town closed.  I never could tell them apart and always was calling them by the wrong names.  One day I looked up from my desk to find they had hung signs around their necks saying " I'm Dwayne"   "I'm Darren".]

  • A. Bennedetti-He was one of three miners who escaped death on August 7th, 1942 when a torrent of water broke through panel pillars from an old mine working in Cadomin, filling five miners.
  • J. Bulo-This individual was a member of the Executive of the 1917 Cross Club of Mountain Park (supporters of the Hon. O.C.W. Cross); uncertain whether this is an Italian name.
  • Enrico Carretti-Enrico was suffocated at the Cadomin mine on June 11th, 1931.
  • Pietro (Peter) Chiesa-Pietro came to Canada from Italy in 1908, and he worked at Coppercliffe, Ontario, and Michelle, Crow's Nest Pass.  In 1912 he walked to Mountain Park. He went to Italy to find his bride Julia and left her pregnant with his son, Nino Vitalino Chiesa, who was born in 1922 in Udine.  In 1923 mother and son went to Mountain Park in 1923.  Other children were Regina, Alvio and Pete.  Six weeks after Pete's birth in 1929, Julia died on complications after childbirth.  The children were sent to a convent in St. Albert until he remarried in 1932, a woman from Italy called Maria. He was the oldest miner in Mountain Park on June 20th, 1950 when the mine closed and in July did his final round as the watchman.  His son, Nino, served in the Canadian Army seeing service in England, North Africa and Italy.  In Italy he was captured and sent to a German prisoner-of-war camp.  After the War, he returned to work at Mountain park.  In 1949,  with partner Jack Roome, he ran the local store until  the town shut down. The family moved to Edson where Nino and his family ran the By-Rite Food Store.
  • Ciciarelli Family-Teresa (nee Ciciarelli) Girardi was born in the Crow's Nest Pass and the family left Blairmore in 1917-18, when she was nine, and went to Mountain Park.  Her Father Joseph worked as a foreman and round table builder for the railroad engines at Mountain Park. According to Toni Ross, he participated in a political rally in Mountain Park  in April, 1917 when the Hon. O.C.W. Cross  spoke; he did the translation into Italian.  His wife was a member of the Ladies Cross Club. The couple, besides Teresa, had three other daughters and a son.  The family stayed in Mountain Park for only two years (the climate did not agree with their Mother) and he went to work in Edson with the CN as a boilermaker's helper.  Teresa met her husband in Edson and they were married in 1927 and lived in Luscar, where he was employed as a miner.  The subsequently returned to Luscar until the mine closed down and they moved to Creston, BC.
  • Paul Ciputa-Paul was killed in a cave in, at the Mountain Park Collieries with one other miner in 1940.
  • Mrs. Cutti-She was a member of the the 1917 Ladies Cross Club of Mountain Park (supporters of the Hon. O.C.W. Cross); uncertain whether this is an Italian name.
  • J. Dominchelli-He was a pipefitter in the Luscar Collieries when an explosion occurred on May 12th, 1945. Bert Dominchelli-was a member of the Luscar Girls hockey team; a brother (?) played for the Luscar Indians Intermediate Hockey Team in 1940.
  • The Dotto family at Brule Mines.  Photo courtesy of Glenbow Archives. Augustino (Gus) Dotto-His parents came to Canada in 1914 and he was born in Edmonton in 1915. They lived in Edmonton until he was six months old, then moved to the Coal Branch to Pocahontas, then moved to Brule and stayed there until 1928. After that his dad took the family down to Edson for nine months while he worked in the mines at Cadomin. After nine months in Edson, the family moved up to Cadomin until the mines closed. In 1948, he competed in the Mine Rescue and First Aid Contest for the Coal Branch Championship. Cadomin came in third after Mercoal and Luscar. Mrs. Assunta Dotto was born in 1922, in a small place near Valvazone. She went to school there with her five sisters, and her father was already in Canada farming. In 1939, Assunta, her mother, and three of her sisters made the move to Canada. Gus and Assunta got engaged (1942-43) while he was in the army. They married in 1945. See oral history interview in the Italians Settle in Edmonton Oral History Project.
  • Attili Esquenni-Attili was a pallbearer for the funeral of Dan Spinazzi and the two other miners killed in the methane gas explosion on the last working day in 1939. Ross says that he came from Spinazzi's home town in northern Italy to accompany his coffin.
  • J. Francescutti-This individual was a member of the Executive of the 1917 Cross Club of Mountain Park (supporters of the Hon. O.C.W. Cross).


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