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  Early Years:  Ranching and Agriculture 

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Mines and
Railways  

Urban
Immigration

Ranching and
Agriculture

by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D.

 1  |  Page 2

Len Bonifacio throws additional light on the colony in an article he wrote for Il Congresso (February, 1991) and, because, this is his own family's immigration history, it is information that has been handed down from generation to generation. The Bonifacio men of Venice, Alberta.  Photo courtesy of the Bonifacio family. He notes that the settlers arrived in New York in 1911 and came from northern Italy. He mentions that they worked on the railroad in Boston before moving on to Kansas where they worked in the coal mines. Then, via the community grapevine, they heard of work on the railways in Canada and headed for Winnipeg. They connected with other Italian immigrants and worked for the Grand Trunk Railway. At different times, they made their way to Edmonton and connected as a group. Some men from the farming colony of Venice, Alberta, also worked on the construction on the High Level Bridge in Edmonton, 1914.  Photo courtesy of City of Edmonton Archives.  He also mentions a fascinating detail that they lived together in a large rooming house and worked primarily on construction of the High Level Bridge. The young men sent for their wives in 1913 and they arrived a few months later. He notes, "When war broke out in 1914, with Italy fighting with the Allies, the Italian newcomers were given a choice by the government; serve in the Canadian armed forces or set out and begin farming. A few joined the army, but the majority decided to work the land." 

Other Italians also farmed and homesteaded in different parts of the province. Some miners worked in the mines in the winter and farmed in the summer. In Coalhurst, Angelo Ermacora did this. John Grosso's parents came to Bankhead near Banff in 1906 with two children-John who was 10 and a baby brother. They moved to Rocky Mountain House in 1914 where the Father worked in the coal mines. John worked at Coalhurst and he married Yvonne Couteret from France in 1913 and they bought a farm from Weber Realty northeast of Spruce Grove (near Edmonton). He cultivated 65 acres and eventually bought more land and cultivated 202 acres. They raised horses, chickens, grain and hay. Other examples can be found in the Regional Profiles

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