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     Edmonton:  Italian Pioneers

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Early Years

 World War I and
Interwar Period

World War II
and After

  Cultural Life


 Population Statistics

Year of the Coal Miner September 2003 - 2004

by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D.

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  • Giovanni Rosso-He came before 1913. Giovanni married Tranquilla Mattiussi from Italy, in the Church of Saint Joachim on 96th Street, December 27, 1913. He worked in the coal mines of the Dawson Bridge area, Beverly, Clover Bar, and also at Mountain Park [Nordegg].
  • The Rusconi family homesteaded in Naples in 1905 but, after the failure of the settlement, moved to Edmonton.  They are pictured in  front of their Edmonton home.  Courtesy of the Italians Settle in Edmonton Oral History Project and the booklet of the same name.Giovanni Rusconi-Giovanni was the one-time proprietor of the Roma Hotel and European Rooms, both of which were located on the southside of Jasper Avenue east of 97th Street. The family was living in Edmonton by 1915.
  • Franco and Carlo Rusconi-Known to have homesteaded initially in Naples, Alberta.
  • Franco (Frank) Saccomanno-Frank came with his brother,  Maurizio Saccomanno, from Italy in Mr. Frank Saccomanno in his Saccomanno Importing Ltd. store. Photo courtesy of Adriana Albi Davies1951 and worked for Ralph Welch for two years in Port Arthur before coming to Alberta and working in construction. In 1965, Frank and Maurizio set up Saccomanno Brothers grocery store on 95th Street. After that they eventually set up Saccomanno Importing Ltd. wholesale in current location 127 Ave. and 102 St. Together, with Joe and Maurizio's son-in-law Carmelo Rago, they started the Sorrento Restaurant in Castledowns.

  • Maurizio Saccomanno-Maurizio worked for the City of Edmonton and, then, with brother Frank set up Saccomanno Brother Grocery in Little Italy. They went on to establish the Sorrento Restaurant. Maurizio and his son-in-law, Carmelo Rago, started the Sorrentino chain of restaurants and It's Aroma.
  • Sartor Brothers-The four Sartor brothers emigrated to Canada beginning in the early 1900s. Giacomo in 1908, Giovanni Battista (Tita) in 1911, Antonio in 1914; and Domenico. Giacomo worked in the mines in the Crowsnest Pass, returned to Italy in 1911; returned to Edmonton and was a part of the Venice colony. Giacomo and Giovanni Battista worked in the mines. Antonio was a baker who worked near the MacDonald HotelMr.  Sam Scrivano pictured on his Italian passport in 1929.  Photo courtesy of the Scrivano family and the Italians Settle in Edmonton Oral History Project and the booklet of the same name.
  • Sam Scrivano-Sam came in 1929 as a "bracciante" (labourer) and was employed by the C.N.R.
  • Giovanni and Giosue Segatti-He started sharpening the knives at the MacDonald Hotel before the twenties, and then sharpened construction tools. By the time he retired, he had modern machinery and sharpened anything through his business; Jasper Grinders at 9616 - 102nd Avenue. His son Roy came from Italy and went out to work on the railroad; quit and went to work at the MacDonald Hotel as a bus boy. He was involved in the Dante Alighieri Society as Treasurer.
  • Franco (Frank) Spinelli.  Photo courtesy of the Spinelli family.Franco Spinelli-Franco (Frank) Spinelli emigrated from San Pietro al Tanagro, near Naples in 1951.  He was the son of a local farmer but did not want to work on the land. He chose to emigrate to Canada and work in the Yukon Territory in the silver mines.  The Italian Centre Shop dominated Edmonton's Little Italy and is a draw for those seeking Italian products.  Photo courtesy of Adriana Albi DaviesTwo years later, he broke his back at work and the company sent him to hospital in Edmonton where he remained in traction for a year-and-a-half. After healing,  for a number of years he did casual labour. In 1959, he bought a small store with his partner Remiro Zalunardo, on the corner of 95th Street and 108th Avenue and the rest is history.  About 1964, he took over the store and the Italian Centre Shop grew to a wholesale empire that supplies stores and restaurants throughout western Canada.  His wife, daughter Teresa and son, Pietro (who died tragically young shortly after his 32nd birthday in 1996) all worked in the store. 

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

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