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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Italian Places

There were three interesting agricultural settlements in western Canada in the first part of the 20th century (Naples, Alberta, 1905; Venice, Alberta, 1914; Lorette, Manitoba, 1921). While immigration policy makers had felt that Italian immigrants did not have the "right stuff" to farm in the West, there were several exceptions. In 1914-15 a group of northern Italians established the Venice agricultural colony in the Lac La Biche area of northern Alberta. They were led by the consular agent Felice DeAngelis, who kept a diary recounting the experience, and Olivo Giovanni Biollo (Billos). Biollo was born in Campalongo Maggiore near Padova on May 27, 1883 and came to Canada when he was 19 to work on the railways. He ended up in Winnipeg where he made money in a hotel and other enterprises before moving to Edmonton to help found the Venice colony. He had agricultural training and was very entrepreneurial. While some of the original colonists left, the remainder prospered and farmed and also undertook a range of other activities. An agricultural cooperative venture was also established in Manitoba in the 1920s-the North Italy Farmers colony from the Lombardy region. This colony was established south of Winnipeg at Lorette and was dissolved in the late 1920s.

For more information on the communities important to Alberta's Italian community, go to the Celebrating Alberta's Italian Community website at www.albertasource.ca/abitalian

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