EMILIO PICARIELLO: THE RISE AND FALL OF A BOOTLEGGER
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
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Emilio Picariello remains one of the enigmatic personalities of his time, capturing the imaginations of Canadians today almost as much as he did during his sensational murder trial and death by hanging over ninety years ago.
From his arrival in Canada to his death, Picariello was a larger-than-life personality. In 1899, at the age of 20, he immigrated to the United States. He came to Toronto in 1902 and arrived in Fernie in 1911. He was a loving husband to Maria and proud father of their six children.
Picariello became a bootlegger operating between Fernie in British Columbia and Blairmore and Lethbridge in Alberta, as well as the American Pacific Northwest.
On September 21, 1922, the A.P.P. and local police set up a sting operation in Coleman and Blairmore to entrap Picariello and his men while engaged in a bootlegging run. Chased by the police, Picariello’s son Steve was shot in the hand by A.P.P. Constable Stephen Oldacres Lawson. Picariello, accompanied by a young family friend, Florence Lassandro, confronted Lawson about his son’s condition later that evening at the A.P.P. detachment in Coleman, and Lawson was shot.
After a sensational trial in Calgary in which Picariello and Lassandro were tried jointly, they were found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang.
Special Guest: Adriana A. Davies
Adriana A. Davies has worked as a writer, editor, lecturer, executive director and curator in England and Canada. Professional accomplishments include: Science and Technology Editor, The Canadian Encyclopedia; Executive Director, Alberta Museums Association and Heritage Community Foundation; and Editor-in-Chief Alberta Online Encyclopedia – www.albertasource.ca.
She has undertaken a range of curatorial work much of it supported by publications such as: Collins' Encyclopaedia of Antiques (1973); Dictionary of British Portraiture, Volumes 1 and 4 (1979); From Realism to Abstraction: The Art of J. B. Taylor (2014); The Rise and Fall of Emilio Picariello (2016); The Frontier of Patriotism: Alberta and the First World War (co-editor, 2016); and From Sojourners to Citizens: Alberta’s Italian History (2021).
Honours include Order of Canada (2010); Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012); Italian Knighthood (2015); Alberta Museums Association Life Time Achievement Award; Alberta Centennial Medal; Global Woman of Vision; and YWCA Woman of Distinction.
Her talk will focus on the tragic events arising from bootlegging in the Crowsnest Pass resulting in the murder of Constable Stephen Lawson, and death by hanging of Emilio Picariello and Florence Lassandro. She will examine the role of racism in the treatment of the accused and whether or not they received a fair trial.
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