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      Home > Background > Regions > Lethbridge Region > Italian Pioneers

      Coalhurst/Lethbridge:  Italian Pioneers

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Introduction

Early Years

World War I and
 Interwar Period

World War II
and After

 Cultural Life

Pioneers

Year of the Coal Miner September 2003 - 2004

by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D.

1  |  2  |  Page 3

  • Massaro Family-Tony Massaro worked in the mines at Wigan and, then, when the mine company moved the houses to Coalhurst in 1924, he moved to Coalhurst. His wife died in February, 1925, leaving seven children: Alice, Margaret, George, Josephine, Guide, Louie and Venice. All family members prospered and most live in the region except for one daughter who lives in Toronto with her husband.1
     
  • Negrello Family-Michel (Mike) Negrello was born in Udine, Italy, on November 2, 1895. He came to Canada aged 17 and settled at Exshaw Teresa and Mike Negrello. Photo courtesy of the Coalhurst History Society as reproduced in our Treasured Heritage: A History of CoalHurst and District, 1984. where he worked in the cement plant. Then he moved to Coalhurst in 1917 where he worked in the coal mines for the next 50 years (Coalhurst, Shaughnessy and No. 8 mine in Lethbridge);. He worked as a driver boss but he also learned cable splicing and worked on mine rescue including the 1935 mine disaster. In 1920 he married Teresa Ermacora and they settled in Coalhurst (Wigan), and later on a farm owned by Charlie Wesselman (the farm developed by her Father Angelo that had to be sold on his death in the explosion). They had three children: Hector, Nita and Ella.2
     
  • Pagnuco Family-Gristalino and Maria Pagnuco moved to Coalhurst with their daughters Dora, Lydia and Yolanda and son Aldo (born in 1916). Gristalino worked in the mines in Wigan while his wife took boarders, that included Mr. Gerussi (Father of actor Bruno Gerussi), Nick Camili and Albino Volgrato.3
     
  • Pavan Family-Antonio (Tony) Pavan was born on September 20, 1896 in Breda di Piave, Treviso, Italy. He came to Canada in 1914, and settled inTony and Isabella Pavan, 1919. Photo courtesy of the Coalhurst History Society as reproduced in our Treasured Heritage: A History of CoalHurst and District, 1984. Lethbridge where he worked as a boiler washer at the No. 3 mine, and part-time waiter at the Silver Grill. He married Isabella (nee Tokar) who was born February 8, 1896 in Komena, Bucovina, Romania and came to Canada in 1912 on her own. She lived first in Winnipeg with a brother and then traveled to Lethbridge to join another brother; where she worked as a waitress in the White Lunch Restaurant. They were  married at St. Patrick's Church on May 28, 1919. 
     
    A. Pavan. Courtesy of the Romulus & Remus Italian Society of Lethbridge. The couple moved to Wigan and operated a small store in 1919, then, moving to Coalhurst where they built a General Store on Main Street (groceries, dry goods and meat market). Tony did all his own slaughtering and butchering, and sent orders to customaries twice daily and once on Wednesdays. During the summer when the mines were idle, he gave credit to the miners and also the farmers. He was a councilor of the Village of Coahurst, Isabella and Tony Pavan in front of their store. Photo courtesy of the Coalhurst History Society as reproduced in our Treasured Heritage: A History of CoalHurst and District, 1984. and served on the board of Trustees of the Lethbridge School Division and as Chairman of the West Lethbridge Committee in the Community and War Services Drive. He was a founding member of the Italian-Canadian Club, and operated the store until 1938 when forced to retire by a heart condition and sell the store. They stayed in Coalhurst until 1948, and in 1953 adopted a daughter, Geraldine.4
      
  • Pontarolo Family-Paul Pontarolo came to Coalhurst with an Uncle from Foza, Italy, at the age of 14 in 1910. After a few years his uncle left to work in South America. Paul continued to work in the mines atPontarolo family, Donna, Rod, Marjorie, Ernie, Blaine, Kevin and Gino. Photo courtesy of the Coalhurst History Society as reproduced in our Treasured Heritage: A History of CoalHurst and District, 1984. Coalhurst and Taber (the White Ash Mine), and in the fall, he worked on a threshing outfit crew by William Hipp. He married Myrtle Hipp, who was born in Missouri in 1920. For two years he worked in the mines living in Commerce before eventually going to Taber to homestead. 
     
    In 1926, they bought a CPR farm, though he continued to work in the mines until the 1935 explosion. Myrtle made and sold butter and, in the late 1930s, they began to grow sugar beets and, in 1940, started a dairy and G. Pontarolo. Courtesy of the Romulus & Remus Italian Society of Lethbridge. shipped milk to the Purity Dairy in Lethbridge. In 1945, they bought a farm south of Coalhurst near the mine tipple. The brick building was converted to a dairy barn (the last remnant of the Coalhurst Mine), and in 1960, they sold the dairy and retired. They had six daughters and one son (Pauline, Marie, Rebecca, Ernie, Lillian, Jeanette and Roseline).5
      
  • Saccardo Family-Joseph Saccardo was born on September 24, 1893 in Riese, Treviso, Italy. He emigrated to Lethbridge in 1912 following in the footsteps of his sister Theresa. He worked in the No. 3 mine before movingFiorina and Joseph Saccardo with their three children, Geno, Mary Doreen and Norma, 1930. Photo courtesy of the Coalhurst History Society as reproduced in our Treasured Heritage: A History of CoalHurst and District, 1984. to Coalhurst in 1915. In December, 1922, he visited Italy and met Fiorina Gardin, who joined him and they were married in June, 1923 in St. Patrick's Church in Lethbridge. They had three children (Norma, Mary Doreen and Geno).

    After the explosion, they moved to Lethbridge in 1936 and he worked G. Saccardo. Courtesy of the Romulus & Remus Italian Society of Lethbridge. at the Royal View Mine. A few years later, after becoming ill and being unable to work in the mines, he began to work for Catelli Foods. The children all reside in Lethbridge. John Saccardo, Joseph's brother, was born on February 9, 1896, and came to Coalhurst in September, 1920. He worked in the CoalhurstJohn Saccardo, 1950. Photo courtesy of the Coalhurst History Society as reproduced in our Treasured Heritage: A History of CoalHurst and District, 1984. Mine, and was one of three men who was working in the mine at the time of the explosion, who survived. He was hospitalized with severe burns but recovered. In Lethbridge, he worked for the No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School for the R.C.A.F. which was established during WWII. In 1944 he went to work for Catelli Foods.6
     
  • Tedesco Family-Dominic Tedesco was born March 17, 1887 and Isabella (nee Ross) was born on September 19, 1891. They were married onDominic and Isabel (Sarbora) Tedesco. Photo courtesy of the Coalhurst History Society as reproduced in our Treasured Heritage: A History of CoalHurst and District, 1984. February 7th, 1910 in Guelph and came west together in 1911 (Dominic had previously come in 1905). They built a brick store in Lethbridge (9thAvenue, North),  then moved to Wigan and, finally Coalhurst, where they opened the general store known as the Coalhurst Meat Market and Grocery Store (it also had a hardware and furniture department).
      
    Dominic also operated the Coalhurst Garage. Dominic served as the mayor of Coalhurst for several terms and as a schoolboard trustee. They had two sons, Mack and Alfred, both of whom resided in Lethbridge. Dominic also had a farm near the mine property. After the closure of the mine, he bought some of the land and farmed it until the mid-forties when he sold it. From 1942, they resided in Lethbridge and he became a contractor, building many homes.
     
  • Standing: Carem and Romano Travalia. Seated: Pete and Florence Travalia. Photo courtesy of the Coalhurst History Society as reproduced in our Treasured Heritage: A History of CoalHurst and District, 1984.Travalia Family-Pete Travalia came to Taber, Alberta, as a young man from Italy. He married his wife Florence (nee Hipp) on November 6, 1920 (her family had homesteaded in Taber and came from Missouri). Pete worked in the coal mines and farmed when they lived in Taber; they had four children (William, Beth, Walter and Evelyn);. In 1931, they moved to Coalhurst and farmed and had adjacent farms to other family members, her parents William and Annie Hipp, her sisters, Myrtle Pontarolo and Rebecca Berry. Pete worked in the Coalhurst and Shaughnessy mines and the farm.7

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