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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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  • Filippo and Filomena (nee Benedetto) Rogolino-Rogolino FamilyFilippo, a miner, came to Coleman from Italy in 1906, and was followed by bride to be in 1913.  She was accompanied by uncles Tony Chila & Demetrio Rogolino and cousin Consolato Benedetto (who already had a brother, Saverio, in Coleman).  Filippo and Filomena had 5 children; Charlie (b. 1914, tailor, Montreal), Grace (b.1915, married Pietro Paviglianiti, London, Ont., 3 children), Frances (b.1917, married Gerald Bergin, 5 children, d.1970), Joe (b.1920, electrical contractor, married Kay Rizzo, 2 children), and Italia (b.1923, deceased).  After much hardship - lost livestock in flood of 1923; lost house in fire, 1927; separation of family - family finally resettled back together in London, Ontario where Filippo grew grape vines. He died in 1977.

  • Donato and Maria (nee Jioia) Rossi-Donato, born 1891 in Ortona, Chieti, Italy, arrived in New York in 1914 and worked on farms across Canada until he came to mine in Fernie. Later, he wroked in Hillcrest Mine, and met & married Maria Jioia, 1920.  They moved to Nordegg to mine at Saunders' Creek c1922, developed love of horses & wine making. They had 6 children; Carlo (b.1922, died in infancy), Rudolph (b.1924, married Olive Zolli, Bellevue, 2 children), Josephine (b.1925, married Len Gryschuk, Hillcrest, 2 children), Vincent (b.1927, married Kathy, Burnaby, 3 children), Pasquale "Pat" (b.1935, married Sirley McCartney, Kimberley, 6 children), and Daniel (b. 1943, married Wendy Cunningham, live in Hillcrest family home, 2 sons).  Mine closed, returned to Hillcrest c1927, times hard, traveled to Passburg, back to Hillcrest & even to Drumheller (Rosedale Mine) to find work.  Maria died in 1968, Donato in 1974.

  • Joseph and Maria Rossi-They came from Italy to Blairmore in 1913 and 1921, respectively.  Joe worked for CPR, Co-op store, and at Sartoris Lumber Co. & Blairmore Sawmills Ltd.  They had 2 sons, Charlie (also worked at Sartoris Lumber Co. & Blairmore Sawmills Ltd., married Ellen Weltens) and Roy (also with Sartoris Lumber Co., hauled coal for Coleman Collieries, married Kay Johnson).

  • PhilipMr. and Mrs. Sacco and Rose (nee Pascuzzo) Sacco-Philip came to Crowsnest in 1918, and worked as a car-man for railway, and town barber. He married Rose Pascuzzo of Cranbrook, and had 4 children; Theresa (Mrs. Jones, b.1926, Cranbrook), Rose (b.1927, worked for CPR in Vancouver), Philip Jr. (b.1929, worked for CPR, Cranbrook), and Irene (b.1934, Mrs. C. Misurelli of Crowsnest).  Philip worked 46 years for CPR, and retired in 1957 in Cranbrook. He died in 1971.

  • Mr. and Mrs. SalustroSerafino and Maria Salustro-Serafino, a coal miner, had settled in Coleman with his brother Achille before being joined in 1912 by his wife Maria and daughter Aurelia.  By 1920, children Gary, Dora & Margaret were born.  In 1926 the family moved to the Windsor-Detroit area.

  • JohnJohn Salvador Salvador-John arrived in Lille from Udine, Italy (b.1892), at the age of 13.  He worked for a time with the CPR, at the mines in Lille, Frank, and Coleman with the International Coal and Coke Co., eventually going into business & construction enterprises for himself.  In Frank in 1912, married Margherita Guglichmetu, a sister of Mrs. George Chiarovano of Bellevue.  After a stroke, John sold his strip mining operations to Mannix Construction of Calgary and his woods operations to brother Louis Salvadore and Charles Roggiani.  He moved to Creston with wife & son John Jr.  and bought & rebuilt Universal Motors. This was managed by sons Elidio & John Jr.. Ha also bought a restaurant operated by son Oliver and son-in-law Joe Colombo (married daughter Ines).  John Sr. died in 1958, his wife in 1973.

  • John Mr. and Mrs. J. ScodellaroScodellaro-John was born 1880 in Udine, Italy, and arrived in Missoula Montana in 1908. After an unsuccessful attempt at a restaurant business, he came to Bellevue the following year.  His wife and 2 children, Primo & Vera, joined him in 1911.  Edo (Bellevue), Duke (Trail, B.C., played goal for Trail Smoke Eaters & won the Canadian Sr. Amateur Hockey Championship) and Elsa (Toronto) were born in Canada.  His wife died in the flu epidemic of 1918.  John remarried and had 3 more children; Doris (Mrs. Sergo, Lethbridge), Emma (Lethbridge) and Mario (Elkford, B.C.).  They lived in Bushtown where many homes (including the Scodellaro's) were wiped out during the flood of 1923.  They rebuilt only to face another flood in 1942.  John died in 1960, his second wife in 1967.

  • Serra FamilySerra Family-Domenic and brother, James, Serra came first to Canmore and Bankhead Mines before sending for their youngest brother, John, in 1897.  John, being young and restless, moved from job to job and place to place.  In 1899, he had a hotel partnership with another Italian in Hurley, Wisconsin.  While there he met Maria Nadalena Piccanatto, a 17 year old orphan from Italy (d.1976), got married and had their first child, Martin, in 1902 (d.1970).  When business got poor, he returned to Bankhead to work in the coal mines, sent for his family in 1903.  Son, Johnny was born in 1904 (d.1974 in Armstrong, B.C.), daughter, Mary, in 1906 (d.1926), and Orestes in 1907.  He joined his brothers again in 1908, this time in the Crowsnest Pass.  Eda was born in 1910 (married Gordon Key in 1930, had 3 daughters, died 1952 in Creston, B.C.) and William in 1912 in Bellevue.
    Brother Domenic returned to Italy in 1912 to work as an engineer.  James moved to Banff soon after;  John remained in Bellevue, gave up mining and took outside jobs such as blacksmith & mine-car repair when he had a large family (considered much less hazardous), and died in 1958.

  • Smaniotto Smaniotto FamilyFamily-Augusto Smaniotto was born in 1883, and arrived at Bankhead, a mining community near Banff, in 1911, leaving wife & 4 children behind in Italy.  He worked in Lethbridge, Bellevue and Blairmore before the 2 youngest, Floyd & Zeffira, joined him in 1929 & 1930 respectively, from Rocca D'Arise, Italy.   After his retirement from the West Canadian Collieries, Augusto helped son Floyd run the Pool Room. He died in 1972.
    Floyd worked for West Canadian Collieries when he first arrived in Blairmore, but the Depression & strikes sent him searching for work in Vancouver.  He returned to settle in Blairmore, married Victoria Campo, raised 3 children; Gloria, Donald & Ronald.  He worked in the mines in Blairmore until they closed in 1958, then for Blairmore Sawmills before returning to the mines for Coleman Collieries.  Served on the School Board & Volunteer Fire Brigade.
    Zeffira married Jack Peressini, a widower with 3 children; Elizeo, Odessa & Nini.  Jack was killed in a mine accident in 1942.  Zeffira & daughter Clevia moved to Dawson Creek, B.C. in the late 1950s and later Zeffira moved to Abbotsford, B.C.  Clevia married Bill Szoo, had 5 children, live in Fort St. John, B.C.

  • Anthony "Tony" and Mary (nee Marony) Stella-Tony Stella came to Fernie, B.C. from Sicily in 1909, to work the coal mine in Coal Creek.  In 1911, he married Mary Marony, who arrived from Calabria.  Their son Joe was born in 1913, followed by Tony Jr. a year later.  The family moved to Blairmore where Tony worked at the Cement Factory.  For a time he worked at the Alberta Hotel for Emilio Picariello.  He started own delivery business.  During the depression he worked at coal mines in Drumheller Valley and Canmore, eventually staying with West Canadian Collieries in Blairmore until retirement.  Tony had a tremendous love for children, having 11 of their own.  In 1928, Tony & his son saved a baby's life, persevering for many hours with artificial respiration. 

  • Luigi and Maria (nee Doanti) Tamborini-Luigi was born in 1883, and married Maria Doanti in 1910. Their first child, Ines, was born in Italy.  Luigi emigrated alone to Illinois in 1910, moved to Lille to work in coal mine in 1911, and brought wife & daughter to Bellevue in 1913.  Son Bruno born in 1914, daughter Triestina in 1915.  Maria & children returned to Italy in 1921, followed by Luigi 6 years later.  Luigi & son Bruno returned to Canada in 1929, first to Welland, Ontario, then back to Bellevue. Wife and Triestina (married Edward D'Ercole of Hillcrest, son Ronald born in 1944) came back to Bellevue in 1937, Ines had married & remained in Italy.  Luigi & Bruno (married Mabel De Zorzi in 1945, son Luigi Anthony) were both employed by Mohawk Collieries.  Luigi died in 1942, Maria in 1953.  

  • Angelo ToppanoAngelo Toppano-Angelo was born in 1898 in the province of Udine, Italy. He emigrated to Coleman in 1913 to be with his father.  There he married Ines Molina of Blairmore in 1924 (she was the first girl born in Blairmore to be married in Blairmore).  They had 2 daughters; Norma (Mrs. Steve Perozak, Lethbridge) and Mary (Mrs. Graham Atkinson, Coleman)  Angelo was a "dinky driver" at Coleman International Mine until 1941 when he and his wife became sole owners of Toppano's Grocery.  Mrs. Toppano (d.1943) had started this business in partnership with Mrs. Angela DeCecco on Second Street in 1928.  Angelo was active in community affairs, during is life he served on town council, the Coleman Board of Trade, the Elks, and the Italian Society.

  • Serinfino Luigi and Margaret (nee Teppa) Trono-Serinfino was Mrs. Trono and Beatrice, 1916.born in 1890 in Logostera, Spain, and moved to Italy with parents as a young child. He became a watchmaker & jeweler.  Accompanied by a cousin, he came to Canmore in 1909 where 2 brothers (Emil & Louis) were already living. A sister (Mrs. J. Serra, Banff) arrived some time later.   He worked at the coal mine in Canmore, until 1912 strike saw him move to Blairmore.  That same year, he married Margaret Teppa, who had emigrated from Caselle, province of Torino, Italy, at age of 7.  He opened his own jewelry store in 1915, the same year daughter Beatrice (Mrs. T.J. Costigan, 3 children) was born.  Mrs. Trono died in 1965, Serinfino in 1975.  

    Giulio and Gina Vanoni 50th wedding anniversary

  • Giulio and Luigia Vanoni-Giulio was born in 1891, in Daverio, Italy. He became a bricklayer, and came to Blairmore in 1914, followed by Luigia "Gina", whom he married in 1920.  They had one daughter, Mrs. Rica DeLuca of Edmonton, who had 3 children.  Gina died in 1973, Giulio in 1978.

  • Louis and Caterina Vendrasco-Louis came from Italy to Maple Leaf after WWI to join his brother John, c1920, and was followed by his wife Caterina and daughter Ada (Mrs. Mario "Puggy" Pagnucco, 3 children, widowed, remarried Vic Krzywy, Blairmore) a year later. Their daughter Enes (Mrs. Deno De Martin, Windsor) was born in 1923, son Bruno (Windsor) in 1924 in Maple Leaf.  In 1926 the family moved from Maple Leaf (Louis was mining in Passburg) to Blairmore (West Canadian Collieries).  Their son Guido was born in 1931.  Louis' brother John Vendrasco and family moved to Windsor, Ontario in the early 1940s, and over the years a number of the Louis Vendrasco family members followed.  Louis died in London, Ontario in 1968.

  • Ezio Ezio VenierVenier-Ezio was born in 1910 in Italy, and came to Crowsnest in 1925 to join his father who had come in 1913.  Ezio's father, a tailor, returned to his family in Italy in 1931.  Ezio, wiper & night-foreman, returned to Italy to marry in 1938, then returned to the Pass followed shortly after by his bride.  They had 2 sons & 1 daughter.  One son, at the age of 7, was killed by a train in a switching yard.  Ezio & family moved to Cranbrook in 1949.


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