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A summary of the oral history transcript of Paolo Veltri
in which he discusses his life in Italy and North America.
Life in Italy:
Paolo was born in 1902 in Grimaldi, Italy.
He came from a family of 4 brothers and four sisters,
of which he was the oldest.
He remembers growing up in a country house about a
half an hour's walk from town. He attended school until he
was sixteen years old, and completed fourth grade.
When he left school he went to work on the farm
because his father was sick. His mother did all the
cooking and cleaning.
He remembers celebrating holidays such as Christmas
The Move to Canada:
Paolo says that he was the first person in his family
to make the move to Canada. He moved because in Italy you
worked all the time but you never had any money. He wanted
to move to the United States in 1919 but his father told
him no and would not help him. His father had previously
been to Canada.
He got married and his wife's father helped him with
the funds to get to North America. He had to come over as
a farm labourer in order to get into the country.
He left from France and took a boat to Halifax. From
Halifax he went to Winnipeg. He arrived in Winnipeg in
He then took another train to Fernie B.C. and worked
clearing bush. There were a few Italians in Fernie. From
there he crossed the border into Spokane to work.
His first few weeks in Canada and the U.S. were
terrible because he did not understand the language, but
in two years time he was able to speak it and get along
In 1933 he was working in Wyoming as a labourer when
he got caught in the U.S. as an illegal immigrant, and was
deported back to Italy. The Italian government had to pay
for his passage back.
He spent the next 16 years in Grimaldi before he
decided to come back to Canada. While back in Grimaldi he
was asked 11 times to join the army before he had to
enlist. He was discharged after two years.
He came back to Canada for a second time in 1949 by
himself. He ended up in Winnipeg again and got a job in
the snow removal business.