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by Mary Doyle

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Venice-Hylo reunion,1924Olivo John Biollo was born in the parish of Campalongo Maggiore, diocese of Padua in the province of Venice, Italy, on May 27, 1883.  His father was Guiseppe Biollo and his mother was Valentina (nee Carraro).  He was the youngest of seven children.

TThe Biollo Home still stands todayhe Biollo family lived on a very small parcel of land, and eked out a meager existence from it.  As a youth, Olivo delivered milk to the home of the Patriarch of Venice.  This priest later became Pope Pius X and canonized as a Saint sometime after his death.  Olivo aspired to the priesthood but was refused due to his asthmatic condition.  He then chose to attend an agricultural college in Padua.

Mr. Biollo emigrated to Canada in 1902 at the age of 19, as a prospective employee of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  He worked off his commitment by laboring on the Transcontinental Railway Line.  He then went to Winnipeg, Manitoba and went into a partnership to acquire  the Savoy Hotel, which was located on Portage and Main Street.

Mr. and Mrs. O.J. Biollo on their wedding day, 1907.Mr. Biollo was instrumental in bringing to Canada his two brothers, Angelo and Sante, and their families.  The three Biollo brothers worked in the hotel.  Mr. Olivo John Biollo became a Canadian citizen on July 3, 1905. On September 10, 1907 in the Holy Ghost Church, Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mr. Biollo married Annie D'Mitruzinski.  Annie was born on July 5, 1891 in Czerwonograd, close to Czestochawa, in Poland at that time conquered by Austria. 

The three Biollo families lived in a very large three-storey brick house, situated on Colony and Broadway in Winnipeg.  Each family occupied a separate floor.  After their marriage, the Olivo Biollo family resided in Winnipeg for two and a half years.  During this time, two daughters were born -- Valentina in 1908 and Florence in 1910.

In 1910, the O.J. Biollo family moved to Rivers, Manitoba.  After one year there, the next move was to Edmonton, Alberta in 1911.  In that year, a son, Oliver Michael, was born.  Mr. Biollo became the owner of a store on the corner of 96 Street and 99 Avenue.  He owned and operated a movie theatre, "The Family Theatre", in the neighbourhood and took a business course from McTavish Business College.  He operated "The Venice Club" for about one year.  Later, this club changed its name to "The Italian Society"; it had a membership of about two hundred Italians.  Mr. O.J. Biollo was the second president.  The members formed the vanguard of Western Canada's first Italian colony, which settled in Venice-Hylo.

They trekked through thick bush, over sand hills and muskeg to reach their destination and choose homesteads.  The new settlers experienced many hardships during the first winter -- extremely cold weather, inadequate shelter, in sufficient food and lack of warm clothing.  Some of the members left in the spring.

Mr. Biollo homesteaded the NW ¼ 12-66-15-W4, which was partially surrounded by Lake Missawawi.  At this time, the area was called "Delgany". 

Mr. Biollo took over a small store from a Mr. Kish (or Kiss).  This store was actually a depot that supplied necessities for the logging and lumbering camps in the area. [continue>>]

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Reprinted from "Hylo-Venice Harvest of Memories" by the Hylo-Venice History Book Committee, with permission from the editor.

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