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     Alberta's Italian Community:  Early Years

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Mines and


Ranching and

Heritage Trails presented by CKUA Radio Network.
The CPR built a
railway through the
Crowsnest Pass in 1897,
leading to major coal 
mining developments
in the region.

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Year of the Coal Miner September 2003 - 2004

by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D.

Construction on the High Level Bridge, a railway and vehicle bridge, in Edmonton, 1914.  Photo courtesy of City of Edmonton Archives.  As the west developed and immigration was encouraged by the Government of Canada, Alberta and British Columbia, interconnected as they were by geography and resources, became destinations. Work in mines was the lure but, frequently, after starting in the mines, Italian labourers moved to railway and road construction.  As well, they were drawn to a range of occupations in urban centres such as Edmonton and Calgary. Less frequently, they turned to homesteading. This was riskier and regular mine wages were attractive in spite of the dangers. This was important, since the initial motivation was to make money and return to their families in Italy. 

Alberta was a suitable place to remain and raise a family.  Shown is the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Gus Lavorato.  Photo from the booklet Italians Settle in EdmontonIt soon became clear that Alberta was a suitable place to remain and raise a family. Some married couples came together and, increasingly, men either went to Italy to choose brides or proxy marriages were arranged for them. It was at this point that they began to exert an influence on the communities in which they lived. 

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Copyright © 2002 Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D. and The Heritage Community Foundation

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