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Carlo & Lina 

Rudy & Rita 

Mary Biollo Doyle

Tony Falcone

Bill Nigro

 Sabatino Roncucci

Spinelli Family
Alessandro &
Lina Urso

Fiore M. Vecchio


Edmonton's Little Italy

Spinelli Family','../images/photo_album/spinelli/family_portrait_det.jpg',Spinelli Family Portrait.  Photo courtesy of the Spinelli Family.The following profile is based on conversations that Adriana Albi Davies had with Mrs. Rina Spinelli and Teresa (Spinelli) Nimis, as well as personal knowledge and on information in the article "The Patriarch of 95th Street:  A Giant in Little Italy," The Edmonton Journal, July 2, 2000, written by Judy Schultz; Journal Features Writer and Food Editor.

  • Back in 1951 there was nothing much happening in the small Neopolitan town of San Pietro al Tanagro. "My father was a farmer, but I didn't like the land. Didn't like school either."
  • He arrived in the Yukon, "somewhere near Mayo," on Aug. 24, just in time for the first snowstorm of the year; worked long and hard in the mines until he broke his back and ended up in traction in an Edmonton hospital for a year-and-a-half.
  • Used the compensation monies given him by the mining company to provide loans to fellow Italians
  • For several years, he would drive around in his Ford truck with other young men looking for casual work; also worked as a bouncer, a driving instructor and operating a gravel truck,
  • With his friend Remiro Zalunardo acquired a tiny store on 97th Street in 1959 where they sold Italian magazines, pop and chocolate bars; with the growth of the Italian population as a result of post-war immigration, his customers wanted more and more products 
  • Also interested in bringing Italian culture to the city; on the French radio station CFFA started a program with news in Italian; he rented an old theatre to show Italian films; brought Italian entertainers of the era to Edmonton including Domenico Modugno (of Volare fame)
  • In 1960 in a proxy marriage arranged by his Mother, he married hometown girl Rina Quagliariello 
  • Spinelli missed the Italian "town square," the place where people gathered to pass the time; he also missed the community spirit of his home town; thus, he made the Italian Centre Shop more than a store; it became the gathering place of the community and people would go there after church at Santa Maria Goretti Centre on Sunday; it was particularly popular with young men who would join him for a meal and a game of cards
  • Daughter Teresa was born on his birthday, October 13th in 1961 and his son Pietro was born in 1963
  • Began to buy up property to build a bigger store; couldn't get a bank loan and the new Italian Centre Shop was financed through a finance company; separate warehouses and two homes comprise the family's holdings in the area making them the largest business in Little Italy
  • Frank Spinelli pictured fresh from the hunt with Raffaele Albi and other friends.  Photo courtesy of the Albi familyEvery day he was at the Shop until his death; favourite pastimes including hunting and card games including friends Gino Alessandrini, Giovanni Bincoletto (Edmonton's first Italian Vice-Consul who settled in the city after his term ended), Lelio Alba and Mario Molinari 
  • Another great passion is soccer and he supported the Cristoforo Colombo Soccer Club run by Mario Molinari
  • A regular event organized by Frank was the New Year's Eve dance that took place in various hotels
  • Another cause in the early 1960s was the making of home-made wine; he worked with Tony Falcone and Alberto Romano from Calgary and others to get the law changed in 1964 to allow for the making of home-made wine; became the biggest supplier of grapes and wine to the community (40,000 cases in some years) 

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