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 Calgary:  Italian Pioneers

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Early Years

World War I and
Interwar Period

World War II
and After

Cultural Life



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Elia Martina, first president of Fogolar Furlan, cutting cake at 25th anniversary of Fogolar Furlan, Calgary, Alberta, 1992.Nino Fioritti receiving an award commemorating ten years of service with Fogolar Furlan, Calgary, Alberta, 1978. Elia Martina seated to his left; Silvano Vizzutti, president, at the microphone.

  • Elia Martina-Elia was from Pordenone (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), Italy. He was the first president of the Fogolâr Furlan. 
  • Mike Palumbo-He played for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

  • George Pocaterra-George Pocaterra (a rancher and George W. Pocaterra, Ghost River country, Alberta. [ca. 1950] explorer originally from Vicenza, in the Veneto region) came to Canada in 1903 and worked as a cowboy on the Bar D Ranch near High River. In 1905, he established the Buffalo Head Ranch on the Highwood River. There he developed a strong relationship with the Stoneys, and explored and mapped much of the Kananaskis area. The Buffalo Head Ranch was turned into a successful dude ranch before being sold in 1933.
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  • Professor John J. Pompilio-Professor Pompilio was the proprietor of a music studio bearing his name. He organized a band which gave open air concerts and played in Stampede parades for 20 years.

  • Antonio and Angelina Rebaudengo-Antonio Rebaudengo became the honorary  Italian consul Mario Rebaudengo playing accordion, Calgary, Alberta, September 12, 1937 between 1936 and 1938. Mr. Rebaudengo was appointed to this unpaid position by the Mussolini government, apparently because he was of the few educated, fully literate individuals in the Italian community. However, he had already been assisting fellow countrymen in an unofficial capacity since the mid-1920s. He also wrote articles on the activities of the Calgary Italian community for Italian newspapers in Toronto and Vancouver. The consular office acted as a contact between Italians in Canada and the Italian government. Although Mr. Rebaudengo held the official title, it was his wife Angelina who carried out most of the duties. She not only handled the necessary consular paperwork, but she also assisted new immigrants in finding housing and employment. 
              Angelina and Antonio Rebaudengo, Italy, 1920. Prior to emigration to Alberta. Antonio Rebaudengo with wife Angelina and son Mario, Calgary, Alberta, July 27, 1930. Riverside Hotel, off Langevin bridge, in background.Prisoners at internment camp, Kananaskis, Alberta, 1941. Antonio Rebaudengo in front row, second from the left.Angelina Rebaudengo with son Mario, Calgary, Alberta, 1926. Mario wearing a sailor hat and coat.
    Since many of the immigrants spoke no English and were illiterate in Italian, Mrs. Rebaudengo wrote letters for them to relatives back home, helped them fill out forms, and acted as translator. Her services often went beyond the call of duty. She assisted many women with their marriage preparations and even helped during pregnancy and childbirth. During the 1920s and the 1930s, there was also an active Fascist party in Calgary called the Fascio. 
    The head of the Fascio was Antonio Rebaudengo. After he was arrested by the RCMP in 1940, his wife destroyed all the documents Members of the Piemontese Society, Calgary, Alberta.relating to the Fascio, including the names of members.  Mr. Rebaudengo instructed her to do so in order to prevent other Italians from being interned. Antonio spent three years at the Kananaskis, Petawawa and Gagetown camps before being released in 1943. When Angelina Rebaudengo was denied the wartime allowance given to the mothers of servicemen (her son Mario served in the Canadian Army), she wrote Prime Minister Mackenzi King a letter calling him a liar. Describing her injustices, she demanded (and to her surprise, received) the allowance.
    According to captions of photographs from the Glenbow Archives, the Redaudengos were also members of the Piemontese Society in Calgary.

  • Baptism of Randy De Zorzi conducted by Father Sacchi, Calgary, Alberta. Monsignor Angelo Sacchi-St, Andrew's Presbytarian (Italian Roman Catholic) church, Calgary, AlbertaMonsignor Sacchi resided at St. Joseph's Parish, but held Italian masses at St. Paul's. Under his guidance an old, abandoned Presbyterian Church in the district of Inglewood was transformed into La Parrocchia di Sant' Andrea (St. Andrew's Parish).
  • Tony Santo (Santopinto)-Grew up along the north bank of the Bow River in the 1920s. His father was a ditch digger for the city water works. Tony's father came in 1910, his mother in 1912. This information was taken from David Bly's column in theGisa Santopinto, Calgary, Alberta.  c.1953.   Photo courtesy of Glenbow Archives. Calgary Herald on May 3, 2002.

  • Santopinto Family-Jean Santopinto was employed by the Hudson's Bay Company at the outbreak of World War ll.  Gisa Santopinto is the sister of Gene Cioni, owner of La Villa Restaurant.
  • Jeep Santucci-He grew up along the north bank of the Bow River. His grandparents, the Gasbari's came to Calgary in 1909 and later opened the Roma Grocery in Riverside, home for the city's small Italian community. Jeep's mother , describing the poverty they had to endure in Italy, told him that they once had to kill a cat in order to eat. Jeep spent a lot of time at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope while growing up, serving as an alter boy and member of the choir. He attended school at St. Angela's School where he remembers the Scottish and Irish teachers as being the best he had ever seen. This information was taken from David Bly's column in the Calgary Herald on May 3, 2002. 

  • Italo Sartorio-Italo Sartorio owns and operates Shaganappi Chevrolet-Oldsmobile.

  • Serra Family-Known to reside in the area during the 1920s. No other information is available.  According to captions of photographs from the Glenbow Archives, there are several Serras (Domnick, Jim, John, and M.) in the Crowsnest Pass area of Alberta in the early part of the 20th century, but it is not known whether they are related to the Calgary Serras.

  • Carlo Simonelli-He was an engineer who started Canfer Rolling Mills.

  • Tony and Tom Spoletini-The brothers played for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

  • Tony and Nina (née Carloni) Valerio-Tony was born in Lethbridge and Nina in Calgary.

  • Father Gino Violini-Father Gino Violini assisted immigrants from St. Mary's.


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