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     Rina Spinelli and Teresa Nimis:  Oral History Transcript Summary 

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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


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Teresa Nimis (nee Spinelli)The interview with Mrs. Rina Spinelli and Teresa (nee Spinelli) Nimis took place at the home of Mrs. Rina Spinelli in Edmonton's "Little Italy" on November 25, 2002.  The interviewed was done by Adriana Albi Davies and Cindy Ewanus.  The interview focused on their own experiences and those of Franco (Frank) Spinelli (husband and father) in Canada as an immigrant, his business enterprises, and his family and community life. 

  • Mrs. Spinelli describes her emigration experience as a younRina Spinellig person looking toward a new life with the man she met and fell in love with when he returned to his home town in Italy.  Teresa, Frank and Rina's daughter, tells her story from the point of view of a second-generation Canadian, and her role in the community and continuing her father's legacy.

  • Frank Spinelli arrived in Canada in August, 1951 and began work in the mines in the Northwest Territories. Due to a serious back injury, he was hospitalized in Edmonton for over a year.  After release from hospital, Frank worked at a number of places:  he served beer at the Ritz Hotel, worked at a driving school, worked with a partner to bring Italian newspapers and, later, other Italian products to Edmonton.  He, eventually, succumbed to family pressure from Italy to get married.

  • Rina, his bride, came by herself to join him in Edmonton in September, 1960. They worked hard, built a house, had "two beautiful children."  Rina describes Frank as a very ambitious man with a vision. He learned English while he was recovering in the hospital.  He always helped people, whether they repaid him or not.  Rina says she was young and in love when she first came to Canada, and that she had a very good life with Frank.

  • Teresa: She notes that she had a good childhood; life was good.  She was raised with a strong work ethic.  Worked alongside the family in the family business. Even though they worked hard, family came first.

  • Of her Father, she says that he always gave to the community. She quotes her Father as saying "the more you give, the more you get.

  • She spoke Italian at home when she was young, for which she's grateful since she is fluent in Italian.  This was especially important for communicating with her extended family in Italy, with whom she is close as she has had frequent opportunity to visit them over the years.  Except for an aunt, the entire extended family is in Italy.

  • Her Father worked hard to keep the Italian community united.
    To this end, he located a coffee shop near the Italian church, encouraged Italians to come to "Little Italy," was instrumental in the renaming of Princess Patricia Park to Giovanni Caboto Park.

  • She retains her Italian heritage because its importance was instilled in her as a child. It is how she was raised.  She remembers the Italian community dances, family gatherings, etc.  There is more of a challenge now to retain one's culture, whether Italian or other, because there are so many other things going on in the wider community. It's "tough," but there are things like the Dante Alighieri School, Italian classes in the Separate School System, and Italian classes that take tours through Little Italy that help maintain the Italian heritage.

  • Teresa Spinelli, herself, married a man of Italian background, Mike Nimis, the grandson of pioneers Tony and Emilia Nimis. (You can listen to audio excerpts of Tony Nimis's oral history done for the Dante Alighieri the Oral History Project ). Teresa recalls amusing stories about Mr. Nimis that were told by her husband's Grandmother, who recently died.

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