by Mary Doyle
Page 1 |
Olivo John Biollo was born in the parish of Campalongo Maggiore,
diocese of Padua in the province of Venice, Italy, on May 27,
1883. His father was Guiseppe Biollo and his mother was
Valentina (nee Carraro). He was the youngest of seven
The Biollo family lived on a very small parcel of land, and eked
out a meager existence from it. As a youth, Olivo delivered
milk to the home of the Patriarch of Venice. This priest
later became Pope Pius X and canonized as a Saint sometime after
his death. Olivo aspired to the priesthood but was refused
due to his asthmatic condition. He then chose to attend an
agricultural college in Padua.
Mr. Biollo emigrated to Canada in 1902 at
the age of 19, as a prospective employee of the Canadian
Pacific Railway. He worked off his commitment by
laboring on the Transcontinental Railway Line. He then
went to Winnipeg, Manitoba and went into a partnership to
acquire the Savoy Hotel, which was located on Portage
and Main Street.
Mr. Biollo was instrumental in bringing to
Canada his two brothers, Angelo and Sante, and their
families. The three Biollo brothers worked in the
hotel. Mr. Olivo John Biollo became a Canadian citizen
on July 3, 1905. On September 10, 1907 in the Holy Ghost
Church, Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mr. Biollo
married Annie D'Mitruzinski. Annie was born on July 5,
1891 in Czerwonograd, close to Czestochawa, in Poland at
that time conquered by Austria.
The three Biollo families lived in a very
large three-storey brick house, situated on Colony and
Broadway in Winnipeg. Each family occupied a separate
floor. After their marriage, the Olivo Biollo family
resided in Winnipeg for two and a half years. During
this time, two daughters were born -- Valentina in 1908 and
Florence in 1910.
In 1910, the O.J. Biollo family moved to
Rivers, Manitoba. After one year there, the next move
was to Edmonton, Alberta in 1911. In that year, a son,
Oliver Michael, was born. Mr. Biollo became the owner
of a store on the corner of 96 Street and 99 Avenue.
He owned and operated a movie theatre, "The Family
Theatre", in the neighbourhood and took a business course
from McTavish Business College. He operated "The
Venice Club" for about one year. Later, this club
changed its name to "The Italian Society"; it had
a membership of about two hundred Italians. Mr. O.J.
Biollo was the second president. The members formed
the vanguard of Western Canada's first Italian colony, which
settled in Venice-Hylo.
They trekked through thick bush, over sand
hills and muskeg to reach their destination and choose
homesteads. The new settlers experienced many
hardships during the first winter -- extremely cold weather,
inadequate shelter, in sufficient food and lack of warm
clothing. Some of the members left in the spring.
Mr. Biollo homesteaded the NW ¼
12-66-15-W4, which was partially surrounded by Lake
Missawawi. At this time, the area was called "Delgany".
Mr. Biollo took over a small store from a
Mr. Kish (or Kiss). This store was actually a depot
that supplied necessities for the logging and lumbering
camps in the area. [continue>>]
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Reprinted from "Hylo-Venice
Harvest of Memories" by the Hylo-Venice History Book
Committee, with permission
from the editor.