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This booklet was produced in conjunction with Italians Settle in Edmonton Oral History Project to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Santa Maria Goretti Parish. 

Year of the Coal Miner September 2003 - 2004

by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D.

 1  |  Page 2  |  3

The primary resources are few and, therefore, extremely important. These include three Edmonton-based oral history projects (two of which were initiated by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D.):

These are amazing resources and, if the 1970s and 1980s projects had not been undertaken, it would have been impossible to reconstruct the history of Italian settlement in Alberta. This is particularly significant because many of those interviewed are now deceased. 

A second important source is the community history books undertaken largely in the 1970s and 1980s. With respect to this website, the significant ones are:

  • Hylo-Venice Harvest of Memories (Rose Country Communications, 2000)
  • Anthony P. (Tony) Bonifacio, Venice Alberta 1914: The Pioneers and Others That Lived There, unpublished community history compiled in 1997
  • Our Treasured Heritage: A History of Coalhurst and District (Lethbridge: Coalhurst Historical Society, 1984)
  • The Hills of Home: Drumheller Valley (Drumheller: Drumheller Valley Historical Association 1973)
  • Crowsnest and Its People (Coleman: Crowsnest Pass Historical Society, 1979).
  • Toni Ross, Oh! The Coal Branch: A Chronicle of the Alberta Coal Branch (Calgary: D.W. Friesen and Sons Ltd., 1974)
  • Edna (Hill) Appleby, Canmore: The Story of An Era (Calgary: D.W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., 1975)
  • Anne (McMullen) Belliveau, Small Moments in Time: The Story of Alberta's Big West Country (Calgary: Detselig Enterprises Ltd., 1999)
  • Antonella Fanella, With Heart and Soul: Calgary's Italian Community (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1999). 

The Cover of Antonella Fanella's book With Heart and Soul:  Calgary's Italian Community.  Published by the University of Calgary Press. community histories produced by committees (Venice-Hylo, Crowsnest, Coalhurst, Drumheller Valley and Canmore) provide specific information about the settlement and development of regions of Alberta, as well as including family histories frequently written by family members. The community histories by a single author (the Coal Branch and Canmore) have more content on the community as a whole and fewer family histories. The Belliveau and Fanella books are more scholarly in nature and provide commentary rather than family histories. I have also benefited from discussions with Anne Belliveau, who continues her research on Martin Nordegg and the community he helped to found.  She provided additional information as well as reviewing the regional profile.

On the whole, very few Italian individuals and families are profiled in the community histories. There are a number of reasons. In mining communities, once mines closed, the workers moved on, many, ultimately ending up in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and Vancouver. There are no family histories to draw on for Alberta's cities since the work would have been daunting. There is another reason, I believe, why the community history books (particularly those in the 1970s and 1980s) largely disregard ethnocultural communities-like the western Canadian academic histories, they are largely about politicians and power brokers as well as the elites (largely of British origin) in the community. The exception is the Venice-Hylo book because it was an Italian agricultural colony and the bonds of kinship continue to bring families back to the community on an annual basis. 

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Copyright © 2002 Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D. and The Heritage Community Foundation

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