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     Venice Hylo:  World War II and After

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Early Years

World War I and
Interwar Period

World War II
and After

Cultural Life



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Father Fabris, first pastor in Venice, Alberta, came from Italy.  Photo courtesy of the Biollo-Doyle family.When Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy it had a strong impact on some Italians who had settled in Alberta. The consular agents and priests became the vehicle for communicating the ideology to local settlers.  Father Carlo Fabris came from Italy to be the Pastor and, according to Mrs. Mary (Biollo) Doyle, established the Fascio de Venice. 

Tony Bonifacio's unpublished history of the Venice settlement, as well as an interview with Rudolph Michetti by Richard Watts, a staff writer with The Edmonton Journal, which appeared in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.

Everything changed when Mussolini declared war on Canada and Italians were declared enemy aliens. Mr. Bonifacio writes:

With Italy becoming allied with Germany the ghost of the Fascist in Venice is resurrected, and opens up a can of worms. Someone reported to the R.C.M.P. in Lac La Biche that the party had existed in Venice, and that led to an investigation by the police. Although the party had ceased to exist for many years, the police located records that Mr. Coli in Hylo still had and some of the names led to the arrest of O.J. Biollo first. He was taken to Calgary and sent to a concentration camp in Kananaskis. A short time later Rudolph Michetti, Augusto Marini, Efisio Manca, and Joe Michetti were arrested and taken to Edmonton, and after a hearing the three were sent home only Rudolph was sent to Kananaskis to keep O.J. Biollo company. A short time later they were transferred to a camp in Petawawa Ontario. At this camp they were among German and Italian prisoners of war. Mr. Biollo suffered from severe bronchitis all his life so he was assigned to light duty in the compound, but Rudolph along with other prisoners were taken daily with trucks escorted by armed guards to the forest to cut down tress that were to be used as mine props.1


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