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    Attilio and Stella Gatto > Oral History Transcript Summary

    Attilio and Stella Gatto:  Oral History Transcript Summary

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Raffaele Albi

Mr. and Mrs.
Enrico Butti

Mr. & Mrs.
Domenico Chiarello
(Nella Anselmo)

Gus & Assunta Dotto
(Emilia Raffin)

 Attilio & Stella Gatto

Gus Lavorato

Giovanni Paron

Louie Protti

Mr. & Mrs. Sartor

Sam Scrivano

Silvio Tona

Paolo Veltri

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Life in Canada:

  • From New York they reached Vancouver, but due to a misunderstanding they do not find Stella's brother. They took a taxi to his house and for the first time they tasted Canadian coffee, and the Christmas Cake that Stella did not have the heart to try.
  • They did not find themselves at home; the surrounding was indifferent and hostile. The sister -in-law and the local doctor, although they were fluent in Italian, would not speak it with them. Stella wanted to go back to Italy.
  • When Pasqualino was born they moved to a different house whose owner, the Perri's family, was more friendly and helpful.
  • Attilio was working in a sawmill; the work was heavy and humiliating for him and with poor pay. He was making 95 cents an hour and between the payment for the house, and various expenses, only the money brought from Italy helped them survive.
  • After 10 months, through the pressure of Stella's brother, Attilio left for Edmonton leaving Stella and the children in Vancouver.
  • He arrives in Edmonton and starts working for New West construction with Raffaele Albi. The work was not what he hoped but things slowly got better.
  • He started working for Imperial Oil and his salary went from $1.25 per hour finally to $6 per hour.
  • After three months, finally, Stella, Emilio and Pasqualino arrived in Edmonton. Edmonton was more friendly and less hostile for them. They made real friends: The Anselmo's. the Leanza's, the Chiarello's with whom they could exchange words of comfort.
  • But Stella was still thinking of Italy and would continuously push Attilio to go back, but Attilio did not want to do this. He had already lost all his friend and work contacts in Italy. Stella moves back to Italy with the children. After 6 years Stella realizes that Attilio will not come back and she returns to Canada. A new life and a better future await her.
  • Now fully integrated in the Canadian life they continue their life with their friends, dedicating more of their time to the children. During the yearly celebrations the house is always full of friends and together they continue the Old Italian traditions.

What were the advantages of moving to Canada?

  • For Stella, Canada was a big disappointment. The streets were not full of dollars like Stella's brother had led them to believe. However, the happiness of seeing the two boys earning their university degrees, and getting jobs made her change her mind. Canada is now home. They do go back to Italy with pleasure, but only on holidays.
  • Regarding discrimination, Stella and Attilio did not experience any. Attilio was too busy working and on the job his bosses were very respectful towards Italians, while Stella was very happy with her neighbors.
  • Now retired, Attilio and Stella are happy to take care of their garden and the house. During the winter months they travel to California and the rest of the year they visit with friends in Lethbridge, Vancouver and Kamloops.


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