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A summary of the oral history transcript of Mario
Grassi in which he discusses coming to Canada, employment,
the Italian community in Calgary, the depression, and
returning to Italy.
The Journey to Canada:
1910 he took the boat from Naples to New York which was
a fifteen day journey. He then got on a train for five
days that transported him to Calgary. He was 12 years
cousin came to meet him and his father at the train
shed. There was no station at that time, just a shed.
went to work right away on the railroad until a truant
officer caught him and sent him to school. He attended school for about two years
before he left to go back to work again.
got a job at the Palliser hotel, while his father moved
to Kelowna B.C. in order to make some money to make
payments on the house.
He then went to work as a shipper for 10 years before going back to
the Palliser Hotel for the next 34 years. He worked a
number of different jobs at the Palliser until his
there he met many interesting people including a very
young Peter Lougheed, and a couple of Prime Ministers.
and the Italian Community:
1910 the population of Calgary was about 26,000. He
remembers Burns packing plant being there at that time.
this time the Italian community consisted of about 40 or
50 families. They lived in the Riverside district of
was an Italian club started in 1918. The main club,
Giovanni Caboto Lodge, was
in Fernie B.C.
club held picnics, dances, and other social functions
designed to keep the community together.
were accepted in the community and were recognized for
their contributions. Mario says that relations with
other ethnic groups for the most part were very
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