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    Joseph Antonio Maria (Bill) Nigro Profile

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Bill Nigro, 2002.  Photo from video taken by William Pearson, courtesy of the Nigro Pearson family.The following profile is based on a video interview done by Elizabeth (Betty-Anne) Nigro Pearson and materials supplied to the Heritage Community Foundation by the Nigro family as a part of the Celebrating Edmonton's Italian Community Oral History Project, funded by the Edmonton Community Lottery Board.

Watch Bill Nigro's Oral History Interview! 

Bill Nigro was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on January 11,1914. His mother was Amelia Paolina Maria Anselmo and his father was Fedele Nigro. Throughout his life Bill has been known as Willie, William and Joe even though his birth name was Joseph Antonio Maria. His father was born Fedele but was also known as Felix Francis or Frank. From Winnipeg the family went to Alberta where they had a homestead in the area of Joffre (near Red Deer) from 1920-25. Bill went to school there until grade seven. The school was located on the edge of their farm and was a one-room schoolhouse with eight grades. He used to ride his horse, a mare called Queenie, to school.
They moved to Edmonton in 1925. They lived in the Devonshire Apartments, the Lemarchand Mansions and then to a house on 113th Street. Bill went to McKay Avenue School in grade eight, then to St. Mary's and St. Joseph's High Schools. He attended the University of Alberta for one year and then went to St. Michaels College at the University of Toronto. One of his superiors, Father Sullivan, called him the outlaw from the West.

At St. Mike's he got a degree in Chemistry and then did two years in medicine. He was President of the Student's Union and a star on the football team. At the graduation banquet in 1938 he was the toastmaster. After University, he went to work for CIL in Nobel around 1940. He made ammunition and explosives for the war effort. He met Norvel Faught in Nobel and got married in 1942. They moved to Montreal in 1943 because Bill was transferred to their plant in Verdun to do research and development. He was then offered a position with Canada Paint but his Father Felix wanted him back in the West so in 1946 they went to Edson. The family was in Edson for 11 years and, then, moved to Edmonton in 1957.

The Nigro family is an important family in the 20th century settlement history of Alberta. They established New West Construction, which made it possible for many immigrants to come to Canada and Alberta where they worked in various kinds of construction including railway and road. Antonio had two brothers, Michael and Flavio. Michael married Theresa Anselmo and had a son, Frank. He married Margaret and had two children, Armand and Rose Mary. Antonio left his wife Anna Veltri and Fedele's sister, Katarina in Italy. Antonio met another woman while in the States and had two sons, Roy and Antonio. Fedele supported the mother and sister in Italy until they died. Roy had a son who had a family in Spokane. Giovanni and Vincenzo were brothers of Antonio's wife, Anna. When they emigrated they changed their name to Welch. Giovanni had a son, Raffaele, or Ralph who settled in Vancouver and had two sons, and a daughter, John, Bill and Katherine.

Related Links

  • Nigro Family Timeline:  Follow the Nigro family as they emigrate, work, marry and contribute to the development of western Canada. 1882-1988. 

  • Immigration Chronology: An important chapter in immigration history is presented through the eyes of Nigro/Veltri/Anselmo families. 

  • The Diary of Giovanni Veltri: Join John Welch, his brother Vincenzo [Vincent] and Antonio [Bill] Nigro as they leave Grimaldi in 1885 and contribute to Canadian  railroad, road and  construction history.  

Watch Bill Nigro's Oral History Interview!  |  Read Summary of Transcript


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