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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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  • Mr. and Mrs. CampoCampo Family-Domenic was born in Potenza, Italy in 1884. He came to North America with an uncle at age 13. After working in the States & Mexico, his work with the Great Northern Railway and the CPR brought him to Blairmore in 1917. There he married Juliana Schilling (born in Semlac, Hungary of German parents), fluent in 5+ languages, affectionately nicknamed "La Germanessa". They had 6 children, Victoria (Mrs. Floyd Smaniotto, Blairmore), Mary (Mrs. Jack DieBold, widow, remarried to John Murphy), Dorothy (Mrs. James Kennerd, Edmonton), Rose (Mrs. Ivan Anderson, Ivan was shot down in WWII and was a POW in the camp of the "Great Escape"), Orlando (b.1931, married, singer, founding member of Calgary Region Arts Foundation), and Constance (b.1940, Mrs. Harold Bryant, Merritt, B.C.).  Domenic left the railway to work in Greenhill mines, and was the Mine Workers Union president during strike of 1932.  He also played guitar, and was a member of "Mountaineers" orchestra. He had a role in NFB production "Coal-Face", and served on the Blairmore School Board.  Domenic retired due to illness in 1944, and moved to Calgary. There he went back to the work he started as a 13-year old in Chicago - shining shoes. Domenic died in 1972, Juliana in 1976. 

  • Carmelo Logging OperationsNick (Nicola) Ciarmelo-Nick was better known as Carmela or Carmelo. He emigrated to Canada in 1906, having previously traveled to New York, Chicago and Argentina and back to Italy. He was a Miner in Hosmer, B.C., Coleman in 1909, Beaver Mines in 1915.  Mrs. Ciarmelo (b.1897) came to Canada in 1911 to marry Nick.  At various times, in addition to mining, they ran a bakery, a farm, and a logging operation.  They suffered many hardships (death of young daughter Lily due to a bee sting in 1917, house fire) but also had good times (Nick played button accordion to singing of Mr. Gabino). They had 6 more children; Agnes (b.1917), Evelyn (deceased 1941), Elsie (Mrs. Salant, died 1967), John, Dora, and Emily.  Nick passed away in 1945.  Mrs. Carmelo enjoys large family gatherings with her 16 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and [at the time of the book's publication in 1979] one great-great granddaughter.

  • Angelo Cervo-Angelo came to Coleman from Italy in 1900. His wife, Dozelina, and daughteAngelo Cervor Mary joined Angelo shortly after.  Angelo Jr. was born in Coleman 1903 (married Mary Bodney in 1928), Adrian & August born in Lille, Vera born in Blairmore, Marcel in Frank, and Mario & Annie in Sentinel.  Mr. Cervo was employed at mines as the family moved around.  Dozelina made cheese and sold milk from the cows they had on their Sentinel farm.  Angelo Jr. ran a taxi business and remembers the Bassoff incident (1920 train robbery & subsequent police shootings) and the Picariello incident. Also worked for Sartoris Lumber Co. before starting own logging business.

  • George George Chiarovano and family. 1950.Chairovano-He left Italy with his parents at age 3, and lived in many countries (father was a rock tunnel contractor) before coming to Crowsnest Pass area shortly after the 1903 Frank Slide disaster.  On a return visit to Italy, George met his future wife.  They married in Lille in 1907, she learned English quickly and became a letter-writer & interpreter for new Italian families.  George mined in Lille, Frank & Bellevue before going into the draying business - trucks in summer, horses & sleighs in winter.  They had 5 daughters, Georgina (Mrs. Fred Hallworth, teacher, married 1933, 2 children), Mary (died at age 12), Ines (Mrs. Robert Truba, teacher, Hillcrest, 3 children), Doris (Mrs. Vieweger, 2 children, died in Edmonton 1951), and Esther (Mrs. Ted Allen, teacher, 3 children).  

  • Louie and Mary Mary & Louie Coan and family.Coan-Louie came to Crowsnest in 1910 single, returned to Italy, married and both came out in 1922. They owned one of the first cars and gasoline washing machines in Crowsnest.  Louie repaired shoes and cars, Mary did laundry for CPR workers. They had 3 children, Douglas, Joe and Enzo.  The Coans left Crowsnest for Vancouver in 1933.

  • Rose and Joe Coccioloni-Rose (born c.1896) came to Fernie from Sault Ste. Marie with her parents and 2 uncles, Louie Carasella & Philip, when she was Rose Coccioloni six years old.  Joe (b.1876) came to Canada from Naples, Italy in 1902 and mined in Coal Creek, Lille, and Coleman. They  married in 1912, raised 10 children (had 12, but 2 died in infancy). Frank (married, Hillcrest), Tony (married, Coleman), Nata (Mrs. Charles Milvain, Burmis),  Joe CoccioloniHarry (Prince George, B.C.), Danny (married Elsie Joseph, Coleman), Joey (Pincher Creek), Frena (Mrs. Langille, Coleman), Rose Marie (Coleman), Josie (Mrs. Scodellaro, Bellevue), and a daughter in Calgary.  Joe was a charter member of the Italian Society and  of the Coleman Town Band.  He died in 1958 followed by Rose in 1970.

  • Dorothy and Vincent Colagrasso Ronald Collierand son Ronald Collier-Ronald, a musician, was born at Sentinel and attended school in Coleman before moving with his parents to Vancouver. There he was a  Jazz trombone player,  musician, composer, and arranger.  He worked with Duke Ellington.  He married Kathy MacKinnon who was a member of Country Hoedown and the Juliette Show.  Had 2 sons.

  • Carlos D'Amico-Carlos tried Brazil and returned to Italy before coming to Canada, first to Corbin, B.C., then Bankhead near Banff, Blairmore, and finally Hillcrest.  He sent for his second wife (Anna Maria nee Tortorelli) and child from Italy when he was working in Bankhead for the CPR Coal Mining Co.  He was killed by a fall of coal in the Hillcrest mine in 1925, leaving his wife with 9 children (the youngest a mere 2 days old); Gabriel "Gabe" (married Muriel Goodwin), Rinaldo "Tuff" (married Mary Kerr), Ricardo "Ric" (married a girl he met in England during the war), Angelina "Ange" (Mrs. Adam Wilson), Salvatore "Sam" (navy man, married Marjorie Fode), Michele "Mike" (married Rita Cyr), Eleanor (Mrs. Becher Wilson, teacher), Felice "Fel" (married & divorced), and Rose (Mrs. Bill Graham).  She managed to raise a fine family on her small Widow's Allowance.  Three of her sons saw active service in WWII.

  • The D'Amico Family-The D'Amico family originated in Ortona area, Chieti, Italy. The eldest boy, Antonio (Tony), was the first to immigrate, settling in Fernie B.C. He gathered enough funds to bring the second eldest, Nicola (Nick). Both worked to bring Egidio (George), and all three brought Ciro (Charlie). The four boys then saved to bring over the rest of the family. Although all of them first settled in Fernie, they soon spread to other areas. 
    George, who remained in Fernie for a time, married Maria Felicia Annibaldi, whose family had come to Fernie from Campobasso. When Johnny Shanks, a Mine Manager at Fernie, took the job of Brazeau Collieries Mine Manager at Nordegg, a number of the Fernie miners followed Shanks there, including George D'Amico. George and Maria D'Amico had five children: Elvira (Tom Pruett), Zupito (Metha Nielsen), Guido (Frances Black), Serena (Robert Duncan), and Michalina (Albert Morris). Guido and Zupito both went into mining at Nordegg. After WWII, Zupi attended the University of Alberta and became a Mining Engineer. He became part of Brazeau Collieries' Senior Management and, when Brazeau Collieries' Kananaskis Mine, in Mount Allan, was closed in 1952, Zupi was the Engineer in charge. He also closed the mines at Nordegg when they completely ceased operation, in June, 1955. 

  • Primo Valentino De Cecco-He was born on Valentine's Day, 1879, the first child in the family (hence, his name).  This stone mason, ornamental plasterer; came to the Crowsnest Pass in 1903, the year of the Frank Slide, with friend Louis Fidenato.  Primo constructed coke-ovens for mines, as well as stone work for shops & houses, retaining walls for the railway.  He boarded with Gatto family in Bellevue and walked to work at Police Flats (Passburg).  Then he moved to Coleman in 1913 where he boarded with the Sfreddo family; after a brief correspondence, Mrs. Sfreddo's sister left Italy in 1913 at the age of 16 to marry Primo.  They opened a grocery store on Second Street with the Angelo Toppano family - the wives ran the store and the husbands worked in the mine.  Together they had a son Ferucio, and a daughter.  Primo became ill, returned to visit Italy in 1932 where he died and was buried. 

  • Tobia De Celia-Tobia came to Bellevue from Italy in 1904, and worked in the mines. His brother Valentino was killed in Maple Leaf mine c1910. Tobia married Antonietta Silo who came from Italy.  They had one son Valentino "Teeny" (married Dorothy Laidlaw).  Then with Sesto Fidenato, he bought and operated a grocery store from the Alazetta Brothers, 1921 until his death in 1950.  Antonietta had a sister who came to Bellevue in 1948 with her husband Olivo De Cecio.  They later moved to Cranbook, B.C.

  • Francesco D'Ercole-Francesco was born in 1874 in the commune of Novelli, province of L'Anquila, region of Abruzzia, Italy.  A brick layer & rock miner, Francesco found himself in the Crowsnest Pass at the turn of the 20th century after working in Marseilles, Boston, and various points in the northern States & southern B.C. with the Great Northern Railroad. He sent to his home town for Dolcessima Colasante, whom he married in Coleman in 1905.  They had 6 children, Congeto "Curly" (b.1906, married in 1935 to Ada Warren from P.E.I.) and Edward (b.1907, married in 1941 to Triestina Tamborini, died 1965) in Coleman, and Anthonio "Tony" (b.1908, after serving in WWII, returned 1945 to be killed in mining accident one week before he was to wed), Augusto "Goose" (b.1909, died of pneumonia 1936), Filomena "Fifi" (b.1910, married Patrick Fitzgerald of Coutts in 1935) and Ricardo "Ricky" (b.1912, partially paralyzed from polio, d.1970) in Hillcrest.  The four eldest were part of a gang called the "Dirty Dozen" who got into a lot of mischief.  The same four and Francesco all worked for the Hillcrest Collieries.  Dolcessima passed away in 1937, Francesco in 1965.

  • Tony De Zorzi-Tony was born in Italy 1898, and came to Canada 1913. He worked in Redcliffe, Medicine Hat & Canal Flats before coming to Bellevue in 1920.  There he married Carmella "Nella" Scodellaro in 1921.  She was eldest of 5 children of Joseph Scodellaro, who had come to Bellevue from Switzerland in 1919.  Tony brought his sister Rosina to Bellevue from Italy; she married Jack Pavan.  Tony & Nella had a son who died in infancy before Mabel (b.1922, married Bruno Tamborini in 1944) and Luigi Joseph (b.1927, married Ida Repas of East Coulee in 1949) were born.  Tony worked with Angelo Fantin for Alberta Breweries, delivering beer, before opening "Tony's Service Station" in 1950.  He died in 1960 & son Luigi took over the business.

  • Ferdinand Fabro-Ferdinand was born 1891 in an eastern province of Italy.  He came to Crowsnest Pass in 1922 after working for a year in Winnipeg where he had relatives.  His wife joined him in Coleman a few years later.  Ferdinand worked awhile in construction for Mr. D'Appolonia before going to International & McGillivray Mines.

  • Mike Favero-Mike was born 1876 in Vico Canavese, Italy.  He emigrated to Favero Family Canada in 1905 after having worked on the Mont Blanc Tunnel in Switzerland, and in Turkey.  He mined in Fernie for a year before coming to Bellevue.  In 1930 Mike entered a partnership with Charlie Sartoris raising cattle & sheep.  Mike sent for his wife to be (b. 1892 in Brosso, Italy) who arrived in 1913, got married, ran a family dairy, and bore 2 children Tecla (Mrs. John Grisak) in 1917, and Silvio in 1918.  Mike died in 1956 from injuries received falling into a mine cave above his Bellevue home.

  • Ferrara familyFerrara Family-After a series of sojourns from Italy to North America, Mike Ferrara, railroad worker, came to Coleman in 1925 & sent for his wife & children, Mary (Mrs. John Berlin, had a large family, d.1945) and Aldo (mine worker, married and moved to Quincy, Massachusetts) in 1926.  Seven more children were born to them in Canada.  John, president of an oil firm in Calgary; Angelina, Sudbury; Mike Jr., Cranbrook; Tony, oil-pump man in Estevan, Sask.

  • Fidenato Family

    • Sesto FidenatoLuigi  (Louis) Fidenato, born in Meritto de Tomba, Italy, came to Bellevue in 1903; miner at Bellevue & Hillcrest where he lost a leg in an accident.  Worked in a poolroom for Tony Cantellina before starting own grocery store in 1924, which he operated until his death in 1958.

    • Angelo Fidenato, Luigi's brother, came to Lille from Italy in 1909, single, miner, returned to Italy.  

    • Sesto Fidenato, joined his brother Louis in 1913.  Helper in Alazetta Bros. general store.  Joined Italian Society of Coleman 1916.  In 1921 bought the Alazetta store with friend Tony DeCelia.  1922 married Rena Batistino (who came to Bellevue to be with her sister, Mrs. Mike Favero).  Had one daughter Nice (Mrs. George Hutton, d.1969).  Rena passed away one month after her daughter in December, 1969.

    • Joseph (Beppo), Angelo's son, influenced by Uncle Sesto, came from Italy in 1950, followed in 1951 by his wife & daughter Juliana.  Worked at Bellevue & Coleman mines, Atlas saw mill, uncle's store. Have 3 children, Juliana (married, Calgary), Rena (nurse, Lethbridge), and Georgina. 

  • Filafilo Family Joseph Filafilo-Joseph came to Canada in 1903, worked in Lethbridge before coming to Crowsnest Pass. He mined in Michel & Coleman, was a carpenter in Bellevue, and a chicken rancher & dairy operator in Coleman (started Coleman Dairy).  Joseph married Teresa Pirono when she came to Michel in 1906.  They had a daughter Anna Elizebeth, born 1907, in Michel, she married Guido Lant, had 3 sons, and after Guido's death, married Joe Bodisch.  Son Dante (Danny) born 1909, in Coleman, married Violet Krywolt, had 2 sons.

  • Filipuzzi Family-Angelo was born 1889 and came to Canada in 1911. He married Maria (b. 1884, d.1967)  when she arrived in 1920.  They made their home in "Bush" - the part of Bellevue east of Maple Leaf between the Crowsnest River and the Mohawk tipple & railroad.  One of their twin boys almost got swept away by the flood of 1923.  They moved to Hamilton when times got hard, but returned to the Pass c1926.  Angelo was famous for his salami & sausages, Maria made cheese, butter & ice cream.  Angelo was killed in Bellevue mine 1939.  Together they had 5 children, Amelia (born 1921, married Fred Rinaldi, 2 children, died 1966), Primo (one of twin boys born 1922, married Elda Pagnucco in 1944, 6 children including the first twins born in the Crowsnest Pass Hospital, 1949), Lino (other twin born 1922, married Yolanda Piccini, 3 children), Jerry (born 1924, married Helen Gryschuk, 2 children), and Guido (born 1926, married Kay Chomokoski, died 1974).

  • Alfonso Rinaldo (Joe) Fumagalli-Joe was born 1887 in village of St. Stephan in northern Italy. He was a blacksmith and mechanic.  Emigrated to Hillcrest in 1911, worked at the mechanic Joe Fumagalli's Red Trail Motors shop at Hillcrest Collieries, and helped haul out bodies of 189 dead miners after disastrous explosion at Hillcrest Mine.  In 1914 he bought dray business from J. Eddy, and a Model T Ford for a taxi business.  He built a garage and had a GM car dealership, and also gave driving lessons.  In 1919 Joe married Annita Caletti, from near his home village, had 3 children; Ricca (Mrs. Joe Lencucha, Calgary), Molly (Mrs. H. Morency, Blairmore) and Tony (Bellevue).  During 1929 they moved to Blairmore and opened a garage called "Red Trail Motors" and received much recognition for his salemanship.

  • Giovanni Gatto-Giovanni was born in 1879, and came to Canada from Treviso, Italy in 1901. He worked the dockyards in Montreal before coming to Bellevue, where he mined until his death in 1957.  He returned to Italy in 1909 to marry Silvia Daniel, and came back to the "Bush" area of Bellevue. There they survived the flood of 1923 and had 9 children; 

    • Irma, b.1911, married Fred Bosetti, 2 children;Gatto Children: Irma, Ferucho, James, Albert, Esther, Corine, Romalda

    • Albert, b.1912, married Olympia Rinaldi, 2 children;

    • James, b.1914;

    • Ferucio, b.1915, married Stella Mieranovicz, 3 children;

    • Romelda, b.1916;

    • Esther, b.1918;

    • Corino, b.1923, married Mary Blondeau, 3 children;

    • Rita, b.1925, married Michael Rottare, 1 son;

    • Nels, b.1929.

  • Silvio Gatto-A bachelor, Silvio came to the Pass with his brother Giovanni c1901.  He was approached by a Catholic priest who was raising funds for a Catholic Cemetery in Bellevue.  Silvio said, "What do I want to give for?  I don't need that place yet!"  Silvio was in a car accident and died shortly afterwards, becoming the first adult to be buried in that cemetery!

  •  Joseph Galeoti-Joseph was born in 1881 in Camini, province of Reggio Calabria, Italy.  Millie and Mrs. Galeotti, 1934.He came to Blairmore on New Year's Day, 1901, where he was met by half-brother Pete Nicefore.  He worked in a bakery, making & delivering bread.  Joseph also worked in the mine at Lille. In 1912 he went back to Italy to marry Anna Maria Spagnolo and brought his wife back to Cement Street home in Blairmore, where she became a midwife. Together they had 3 girls; Nancy (Mrs. Joe Amatto, 2 children), Violet (Mrs. Joe Vasek, one son) and Millie (Mrs. Nels Johnson, 2 children).  

  • Amabila (Mabel) Giacomuzzi-She was born in 1902 in northern Italy, daughter of a silk factory worker, who went to Canada in search of a better life.  Mr. Brada was a miner in Lille when he sent for his wife and daughter Mabel, in 1918.  Mabel married Gino Sorrentino in 1919, and was preoccupied with raising a family while Gino "dabbled" in various activities; mining, establishing a pool hall & drinking parlor, and working for "Emperor Pic" in Blairmore. With his family he moved to Buenos Aires for a few years. He started theatre businesses in Cardston, Natal & Creston.  Mr. & Mrs. Sorrentino separated and Mabel & children returned to Bellevue.  In 1940, Mabel married Dominic Giacomuzzi, a miner.

  • Gramacci Gramacci Family Family-Domenic came to Canada from Italy in 1903, arriving in Morrisey, B.C., then moving to Coleman in 1904. He was in Lille when his wife Josephine and children Joseph & Mary joined him in 1906.  Patrick and Sidney were born in Lille, where the family stayed until the mine closed in 1912.  Domenic & 2 youngest moved to Detroit after the death of Josephine in 1926.  Mary was married and living in Coleman.  In 1926, Joseph married Caterina who came from Italy for that purpose.  They settled in Bellevue and had 4 children; Mary "Maimie" (married John Masceniu, widow, remarried to Don McEwen, Vancouver); Bernard "Benny" (married Jessie, Edmonton); Lydia (married Eddy Cardle, Victoria); and Georgena "Gena" (married William Mattson, Calgary).  Caterina died in 1964.  Joseph was a member of the United Mine Workers of America and of the Italian Society at Coleman.

  • Guido Lant-Guido was born in Italy during 1896. He worked as a bricklayer before he came to Michel, B.C. in 1914 to join his uncle. Then he worked across Canada and settled in Coleman in 1920.  Guido worked at International Coal Co., as foreman for J.S. D'Appolonia, and for the McGillivray Creek Coal Co. until retirement.  He married Anna Filafilo and had 3 sons - Gene (married Rose Kosma, 3 children), Ernie (died 1975) & Jim (married Darlene Stefanek, 2 children).

  • Giovanni Battista (Tita) Leschuitta-Giovanni was born 1900 in Valvasone, province of Udine, Italy, and came to Blairmore in 1920 to work the coal mines.  He Also worked in B.C. lumber camps, and as track layer for West Canadian Collieries & Michel Mines before retirement in 1963. He died 1968.  Giovanni was a member of the Italian Society of Coleman.  His wife, Domenica, lives in Arzene, Italy.  Son Givoacchino and his wife & 2 children live in Milan, Italy.

  • Egidio Lozza-Egidio was born in Italy in 1897, and arrived in Hillcrest in 1921, when his 3 sisters sent for him to join them.  There he worked at Maple Leaf mine until 1929 when he returned to Italy to marry Maria Moroni.  He came back with his bride in 1931, and settled on a B.C. farm. They came back to Hillcrest in 1936 where their 4 children were born; Slug (married Colette Humel, 2 daughters, Kimberley, B.C.), Diana (Edmonton), Elsie (Edmonton), and Elda (married Wally Feauville, 3 children, Bellevue).  Mrs. Lozza died 1972.  Mr. Lozza was a member of the Italian Sociey; he died in 1977.

  • Pasquale Lucente-Pasquale arrived in the Pass shortly after the Frank Slide in 1903. Lucente Family  He worked in Bellevue Mine, served in WWI, returned in 1920 to work in Blairmore Mine.  Mrs. Lucente joined her husband in 1929.  Son Frank joined father in the 1920s, and worked at Blairmore Mine before going to C.N.P. Motors as a mechanic & body repair man.  Joined by wife Julia and son Pasquale in early 1930s.  Pasquale Sr. & wife Francesca returned to Italy to stay in 1936.  Frank & Julia had 4 sons; Pasquale, Robert, LeRoy and Rocky.

  • Paul Luvera-Paul came with his family from Calabria, Italy to Coleman when he was 11 years old and worked in the mine, as did his father, from the ages of 13 to 18.  When his father became ill, the family  moved to Anacortes, Washington.  Paul was state senator there from 1953-1957.  He and his wife Mary had 2 daughters and a son and 14 grandchildren.

  • Francesco Marasco-Marasco immigrated to Canada in approximately 1900. Later, he sent sent for his son, also Francesco, who was still living in San Giovanni in Fiore, Cosenza, Italy. In 1922, Francesco Antonio Marasco came to Nordegg. In 1923, his wife Vittoria, and three children, Francesco III/Frank (Mafalda Blasetti), Caterina/Kay (Tony Mele), and Mario Salvatore/Milio (Magdelina Gejdos), all came from Italy to Nordegg. In Nordegg, in 1925, Rosina/Rosie (Bill Skulsky) was born. The family moved to Fernie in 1928 and, while they were there, Maria/Mary (Alfred Jones), was born. They remained in Fernie only a few months before returning to Nordegg. 

  • Virgino (Vic) and Maria (nee Bassani) Marcolin-Vic was born in 1885 in Loria, northern Italy, the eldest of a farm family of 11 children.  He worked for the CPR around Lake Superior before arriving in Frank shortly after the 1903 slide.  Maria Bassani, born 1890, arrived in Frank accompanied by cousin Mr. Macchi in 1909.  She was married to Vic at the home of Mrs. Pozzi eight days later.  They settled in Bellevue where they had 5 children; William (school principal, deceased), Kath (married Henry Raymond, widowed, remarried to Robert Shaw, Kelowna), Eda (Mrs. Tita Battel, Vancouver), Albert (Trail, B.C.), and Hugo (Toronto).  Maria died in 1974, Vic in 1975.

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