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The word Fascism has a dual origin. It comes in part from the word fasces, a bundle of rods round an axe carried by the
magistrates in ancient Rome as a symbol of power and authority. It comes also from the Italian word,
fascio, meaning band or group.
The basic concept of Fascism, as elaborated by Mussolini, was that the State was absolute before which individuals and groups were all relative.
Mussolini proclaimed, "Everything within the state, nothing against the state, nothing outside the state." The masses should only "believe, obey and fight."
For a history of Fascism in Italy, there are many
excellent historical accounts. What is important in this period, with respect to
Alberta's Italian community, is the impact of the rise of
Fascism and how it played out as Italy declared war on Canada
(June 10, 1940) and Italians, even some born in the country,
became enemy aliens. The issue had arisen briefly in the
First World War but Italy had sided with the Allies and that
ended the discussion. However, it was demonstrated how the
Canadian government would react to "enemy aliens"
or suspected enemy aliens on our soil-Ukrainians were
As has been noted by many historians, immigrants, whenever
possible, retained very close ties with the homeland.
Italians in Canada, even those who were second and third
generation were aware of the rise to power of Mussolini. The
influence of the Fascist government was felt through the
consular agents, vice consuls or honorary consuls who were
assigned to Italian communities. It was felt, as well,
through the priests who were sent by their order from Italy
to serve immigrants.
It is interesting that, while Edmonton and Calgary, did
not have an Italian church at the time, the community of
Venice did. In 1924, they began to build Il Redentore Church
[Holy Redeemer] with the site being contributed by Oliva John
and Angelo Biollo, and lumber and labour contributed by the
community and prepared in the Biollo sawmill (check out the Mike
Biollo and Mary
(Biollo) Doyle oral histories) Father Carlo Fabbris came from
Italy to be the Pastor and, according to Mrs. Doyle,
established the Fascio de Venice. He remained in Venice until
1927 and was succeeded by Father Lawrence Woodhouse.
Tony Bonifacio's unpublished
history of the Venice settlement, as well as an interview with
Rudolph Michetti by Richard Watts, a staff writer with The
Edmonton Journal, which appeared in the paper in October,
1984, provide additional details. In 1924, Rudolph
Michetti was sent by his Father Guiseppe to study steam
engineering at the Alberta Institute of Technology. Mr.
Bonifacio mentions Mr. Michetti boarded with an Italian
family in Calgary and got to know Antonio Rebaudengo,
who founded the Fascist Party in Calgary. Knowing
of the Venice settlement from Rudolph Michetti, Rebaudengo
went to Venice in November, 1925, to found the Fascio de Venice with
Rudolph Michetti, Efisio Manca and Benedetto Coli.
Mr. Bonifacio states that all
the Italians in the community got their memberships and were
proud of this and Mr. Rebaudengo returned to Calgary. It is
also mentioned that the party flag was blessed. Mr. Bonifacio asserts that
the Fascio was a social club with members
paying annual fees and getting together two or three times a
year for picnics. He states: "Of course, they idolized
Mussolini, and they hoped that he would improve the way of
life in Italy for the relatives, and friends that they had
left behind years gone by." He estimates the
membership of the Fascio at about 40. The community
already had the Duca d'Abruzzi Society, which according to an
Edmonton Bulletin article dated January 5, 1917, had
the following purpose: