Here is the complete list of this year's First Family Features. Research and coordination of this series was all done by Don Rampone.
1. Belgo Canadian Fruit and Land Company Camp in the 1911 Census
2. Luigi and Ersillia Guidi
3. Angelo (Andy) and Agnes Gaspardone
4. Nicola (Nicholas) and Elizabeth Ceresi
5. Egisto Bigattini
6. Augusto and Luigia Maria Ongaro
7. Angelo and Maria Rosa Letizia Guidi
8. Agostino and Marietta Cacchioni
9. Riccardo (Dick) and Mary Bertoia
10. Ernesto Angelo and Sabina Paula Bianco
11. Oreste Luigi and Katie Francescutti
12. Alfredo Giuseppe and Angelina Guidi
13. Jim and Nellie Campbell
14. Geniale and Maria Russo
15. Lorenzo and Giuseppa Siviglia
16. Mario and Sabina Dapavo
17. Pasquale and Vittoria Pasqualina Iafrancesco
18. Giovanni and Gina Petretta
19. Emilio and Marianna Verna
20. Guerino (Gary) and Ida Russo
21. Pietro and Esterina Turri
22. Domenico and Maria Petretta
23. Alfredo and Valentina Calissi
24. Amedeo (Andy) and Armerinda Russo
25. Rosario and Iolanda Filice
26. Sergio and Clelia Bertolami
27. Luigi and Silvia DiRenzo
28. Frank and Romi Marcanio
29. Pietro and Erika Calissi
30. Rosario and Giovanna Di Maria
31. Domenico and Nicolina Zaino
32. The History of Italian Families in Kelowna
33. Giovanni Manzocco
34. Giuseppe and Marie Butt - Giovanni and Maria Butt
Giuseppe But (Joseph Butt) was born in Sediliis, Udine, Italy to parents Biaggio But and Teresa Balloch. He immigrated to the Okanagan in 1919, via the United States. Joe's occupation was listed as a marble and terrazzo worker. He settled in Westbank and worked clearing land and building homes. On October 24, 1923, he married Marie Caroline Joyal, daughter of David Joseph Joyal and Celina Colleaux Ducharme of Kelowna, BC. Shortly after their marriage, they made their way to Seattle, Washington, where they made their home. Joe and Caroline had two children: Linda Mary and Joseph Hubert. One of Joe's greatest work accomplishments was working for the MWAK Company, as a cement construction supervisor, during the building of the Grand Coulee Dam.
At his older brother's calling, Giovanni But (John Butt) and his wife Maria, Franz, immigrated to Canada in 1921. John was born in November, 1892 in Sediliis, Udine, Italy. Maria was born in October, 1897 to parents Ottavio Franz and Anna Foschia in Ciseriis, Udine, Italy. Upon their arrival to the Okanagan, John and Maria made their home in a teepee on the First Nations Reserve near Westbank. For the first few years, John cleared land and built homes alongside his brother Joe. They often spoke of the cold winters and crossing the iced-over Okanagan Lake, into Kelowna, on a horse drawn sleigh.
In the early 1930's, John and Maria moved to Kelowna. They built the first home at 1428 Bertram Street. John became employed as a labourer for the Kelowna Sawmill Co. from 1936 to 1943. He then opened a shoe repair shop on 518 Bernard Street in 1944. The repair shop moved to 1390 Ellis Street, in 1951, where it remained until his retirement in the early 1960s. John had gained his skills as a leather craftsman, during his service in World War I, working with the cavalry.
Maria worked alongside her husband at the shoe repair shop. She was well known for her cooking, needlework and for being a very sociable woman. They were well known and liked in both the Kelowna and the local Italian community. They actively participated in community social events and were great fans of the Kelowna Packers hockey team.
In the 1950s, they welcomed Maria's niece Elsa and Arrigo Cimbaro, John's nephew Giovanni Ferruccio Manzocco and John's cousin Teresa and Gino Cimbaro, into Canada from Italy. Although John and Maria had no children of their own, they proved to be loving substitute grandparents for the Cimbaro children who fondly remember them as their zia Maria and zio John.
John died in 1985 and Maria in 1992. They are both laid to rest at the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery.
Mary Anna Cimbaro
Giovanni (John) Ferruccio Manzocco immigrated to Kelowna in 1951, at the calling of his uncle John Butt. He was born in 1926 in Sediliis, Udine, Italy. He apprenticed, for two years, at his uncle's shoe repair shop. He lived on Bertram Street for one year and then bought a home on Oxford Avenue.
In 1954, he went to work for CP Rail in Field, BC. There, John worked on maintaining the tunnel system of Kicking Horse Pass, in particular the famous spiral tunnels. He left the railway in the early 1960s, and returned to Italy. It was not to be a permanent stay, however, and by 1965 John had returned to the Okanagan and took a position at the Highland Bell Mine in Beaverdell. He remained working there until his retirement.
John purchased a home on Pandosy Street when he retired. He never married and did not have any children. He was a kind man with a very gentle and giving nature. He was known as a very hard worker and a jack-of-all-trades.
John died in 1994 and is laid to rest at the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery.
Mary Anna Cimbaro
By Brenda M. Shaw
The 1st Italian to arrive in BC was a naval officer named Captain Alejandro Malaspina. Alesandro Malaspina was born in Mulazzo, a small principality ruled by his family. Today, part of Tuscany, it was then part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, a fiefdom of the Holy Roman Empire. Alessandro’s parents were the Marquis Carlo Morello and Caterina Meli Lupi di Soragna. He entered the Royal Navy of Spain in 1774. Knowing that Cook had previously surveyed the coast west of Prince William Sound and found no passage, Malaspina, employed by Spain, ceased his search at that point and sailed to the Spanish outpost at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island in 1791.
It would be many years after Malspina’s arrival before our ancestors made their way to British Columbia but when they did, they came to all parts of BC. Families with Italian roots have made a rich and significant contribution to the history of BC. In several waves of immigration, they arrived to build the province - as agricultural pioneers, early miners, brick masons, industrial workers, community founders, industrious citizens and community leaders. Each played an important role in making their communities - and BC - stronger.
The first known Italian immigrant to arrive in Kelowna was Giovanni Casorso in March of 1883, followed by his wife, Rosa, and their children in July of 1884. Rosa and her children had an arduous journey from Piedmont, Italy to San Francisco, to New Westminster and on to Kelowna. They travelled from Kamloops to Kelowna by stage coach.
Luigi Rampone was next, coming in April of 1893. Giovanni Casorso sent for him to help farming the lands at the Mission. Giovachino (Joe) Lanfranco arrived in February of 1901, and from that date on, a quick succession of Italian families began arriving in Kelowna… Ciaccia, Risso, Gaspardone, Guidi, Pioli, Favali, Rossi, Turri, Cavani, Bertucci, Ciancone, Camillo and Domenico Rampone, Orsi and Dal Col are all among the many early families.
In 1883, Giovanni Casorso was running the Catholic Mission’s agricultural lands at Kelowna and pioneering several of the Okanagan’s agricultural industries. The Casorsos introduced Australian style sheep sheep farming, raised herds of pigs to supply their “Sanitary Market” butcher shop and, half a century later, began to grow grapes commercially. Today their Pioneer Ranch store is just down the road from the original Mission site. (Closed 2018)
In my search for my family, I have compiled a great deal of information on the Italian families that eventually made Kelowna and the surrounding areas their homes. These records are found on the American Family Immigration Site known as Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1925, most immigrants came through Ellis Island in New York. The first thing that they probably saw was the Statue of Liberty. They came from every part of the world, some with all their possessions, but most of them with the clothes on their back and very little money in their pockets. The Manifests at Ellis Island are often very informative and give a great deal of information… where they were from, who they were going to see, who they were leaving behind. The records usually give their home and their age and marital status and how much money they had, It is from these documents that I was able to connect families that married in Kelowna and I was able to name brothers and sisters, fathers and children from the information given in the manifests. They were destined for Kelowna, Vernon, Trail, Rossland, Summerland and Revelstoke, BC with the majority of them heading to Kelowna. It must have been quite a trip from New York to the wilds of the Okanagan Valley in BC and its’ small communities. As is the custom, many of the families arriving would be housed with a settled family until they got on their feet.
Soon the City of Kelowna was beginning to become home to several Italian families. Amos, Angelo, Luigi and Pietro Guidi, Samuele Turri, Michelle Rossi, Cesare Bertucci, Oreste Favali and Carlo Cavani were from the same area that my grandfather, Angelo Pioli, came from. Their villages of Mozzanella, Pontecosi, Felicia di Camporgiano, Pievefosciana, Castiglione di Garfagnana, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Villa Collemandina and San Romano in the Toscana region, province of Lucca, were only few km apart and their families knew each other and were often related by marriage.
In the early years, the Italian immigrants in Kelowna did a variety of labouring jobs, often in the field of agriculture. After meeting their obligations with the Immigration authorities of working the land for one year, the Italian immigrants began to work in their chosen trades or start new careers. Samuel Turri went to work for the City of Kelowna Water Department, eventually becoming a foreman… Casorsos had a cattle ranch amongst many other vertures; Capozzi had a store and soon a winery; Pioli was a brick mason; the Guidi’s were masons and plasterers; the Rampones, Lanfrancos, Favalis, and many others, were farmers.
The Italian community in Kelowna was a very large, tight-knit community. Immigrant families often stayed with those families who had come before them. Such was the case with my grandparents. When my grandfather came in 1910, he went to a family relative, Felice Briando in New York and from there to the Black Diamond Mine in Washington State where he caught up with friend Alfredo Biagioni… together they came across the border into BC and on to Summerland. Alfredo built the old stone house now known as Zia’s… my grandfather stayed with him for one year and worked on the land and also helped build the house and the old stone fence that surrounded the property. After going back to France and Italy, in 1913, my grandfather Ippolito Angelo Pioli married my grandmother Annuziata Campigli in Fuecchino, Italy. They came back to Kelowna that year and lived with the Casorso family until their home on Coronation Avenue was built. As did most of the Italian families, my grandparents often put up new immigrants until they found work and were able to begin on their own.
The Italian Pioneers has a real sense of community and volunteered wherever they were needed… the building of the road to Carmi and the Kettle Valley Railroad were just two projects that the Italians worked on. The Kettle Valley Railroad was in the process of being extended into the Kelowna area in 1912 and work continued until the completion of the railway track in 1914. Each weekend the pioneer Italian men and others from the North end of Kelowna, packed their lunch and water and would meet in the North end and head out to the work site, walking all the way to the McCullough end of the railroad. They worked all day long in the hot sun… each contributing his skills and working alongside many other nationalities. They walked many miles each and every weekend to help finish the construction of the Kettle Valley Railroad at the Myra Canyon and McCullough end where they laid down track and also prepared the roadbed for the coming track. The men, who were brick masons, built the foundations beneath the trestle. Those foundations were still standing after the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, in August / September of 2003, demolished twelve of the eighteen trestles.
Friday evenings would find these families gathered together cooking, drinking, playing music, dancing and playing cards. They would rotate from house to house, sometimes walking long distances to be together. Children would fall asleep under the table listening to their parents laughing and signing. Today, over one hundred years later, some of these families still meet to enjoy dinner and conversation. The KCIC club was formed in 1966 as a way of staying in touch and gatherings together to share their heritage. The club has many more Italian immigrant families that came much later, but the feeling of family and togetherness still remains a strong tie.
Sundays would find the Italian families at Church. In the early years there was only the Church of the Immaculate Conception. For the Italian community it was an important event each week to share their faith together. Afterwards they would often gather to visit with friends and neighbours when the men weren’t involved in some project like the Kettle Valley Railroad.
According to the 1911 census schedule for Kelowna, my grandfather, Angelo Pioli, had come to Canada in 1908. He went back to France, but he must have liked it here because, in 1910, he sailed again from Marseilles, France where his sisters Zelinda and Maria were living. On this second trip to Canada, my grandfather brought some vine cuttings with him and planted them… they did not survive the first winter and in 1913 he returned to France, for a visit and to marry, and he again brought vine cuttings (vinifera)… he was laughed at and told they would never survive… but survive they did… flourishing for many years on the Coronation Avenue property; the infant wine industry had begun.
In the late 1920’s, Pasquale, “Cap” Capozzi, began to put together the dream of a winery. With the help of his partner W A C Bennett, along with Joseph Ghezzi and the financial help of the many Italian families, Calona Wines was founded. The Italian families that contributed to the beginning of the winery were given shares and the Pioli family was no exception in being stockholders. With the first $3500 that Angelo invested, Cap was able to get the wine presses off the docks in Vancouver and into production in Kelowna. Angelo, along with a few other families also put up the money to buy the boilers as well. Soon Calona Wines was up and running.
It is with this same spirit of camaraderie, that the Italian community stood together. They built churches and clubhouses and helped each other build their homes and raise their barns… they donated money and time to the betterment of Kelowna and in times of need they lent their time and their backs to whatever was needed. They attended their churches and blessed the arrival of their children… godparents were chosen from amongst their community and were an important part in the lives of the second generation Italian/Canadian children.
Many of these families are interwoven through marriage… the names of those who came to Canada to begin new lives is long and incomplete but some of the names are found in street signs throughout Kelowna ,while some of them have their family still living in the area.
Domenico Zaino was born in Cesinale, Avellino, Italy, on September 3, 1911. On December 4, 1947, he married Nicolina Luparelli (born in Santo Pietro, Avellino, Italy, on January 20, 1920). They lived in Santo Stefano del Sole, Avellino, Italy.
Domenico and Nicolina immigrated to Canada (Kelowna, B.C.) in March, 1958, following Nicolina’s sisters, Maria Petretta (immigrating in 1955) and Sabina Dapavo (immigrating in 1956). Domenico worked at Calona Wines until his retirement in the early 1970’s. Nicolina had many jobs – the Cannery, Stewart Brother Nurseries, the Royal Anne Hotel, the Fintry Queen, the Bussola, and finally the Packing House, where she retired around 1987. Domenico passed away in February, 1994, and Nicolina in August, 1999. They are both interred at the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery.
Domenico and Nicolina had two children: Carmine, born in 1949 and Elia, born in 1953. Carmine married Frances Elders in 1975. They had two children: a daughter, Tanya (Dean Embleton), and a son, Mark, (Summer Anderson). Mark and Summer have a daughter, Danica, and a son, Domenic. Elia married Richard Moffatt in 1976. They had three children: Jamie, Nicholas (Jennifer Tetreau) and Miranda (Kodi Deleurme). Nicolas and Jennifer have two daughters: Ellie and Hazel. Miranda and Kodi have a son, Andrew, and a daughter, Annie.
Carmine was a chartered accountant and eventually became a partner in Westwood Electric in Vernon, BC. He retired in 2004. Elia worked at various jobs, as a secretary for thirty-five years, ending her career with periodontist, Dr David Gainey.
Domenico and Nicolina’s children can definitely attest fulfilling their wish to give their children a better life in Canada. They were two wonderful people, and were loved by everyone who knew them.
Elia Zaino Moffatt
Rosario was born in 1925, to parents Salvatore DiMaria and Maria Gulliotta. They farmed grapes and wheat in in San Giuseppe, Jato, Sicily. Giovanna was also born in 1925, in San Giuseppe to parents, Antonio Randazzo and Serafina Pilato. Rosario and Giovanna were married in 1952.
In November, 1958, Rosario, Giovanna and children, Salvatore (Sam) and Maria, departed Sicily seeking a better life and more opportunity. They boarded the Saturna, in the port of Palermo, Italy, stopped in Naples, Italy and Lisbon, Spain, and landed in Halifax, Canada. The seas were very rough. Due to seasickness, Giovanna stayed in the cabin the entire time. Sam remembers the boat swaying, as the buns rolled off the table and him running to fetch them. They landed at Pier 21, in Halifax, and took the train across Canada to Kelowna, BC, where they encountered cold wintery conditions. This is the first time they had seen snow.
Rosario worked for Stewart Brother Nurseries, in East Kelowna, at Calona Wines, and eventually at Crown Zellerbach Sawmill. Two more children were born in Canada: Antonio (Tony) in 1961 and Serafina (Sara) in 1964. Rosario and Giovanna bought an orchard on Mail Road, Kelowna in 1962. They saved hard to build a new house which they moved into in 1966.
During the daytime, Rosario worked hard in the orchard. He planted apple and pear trees and vegetables during the day and worked the graveyard shift at the sawmill. In 1974 they bought an old orchard in Okanagan Centre and replanted it to grapes. Rosario and Giovanna had an incredible work ethic. They welcomed company at anytime, sharing a meal, vino and friendship. Rosario died May 19, 2000 and Giovanna died January 3, 2017. They are both interred at Lakeview Memorial Gardens, Kelowna, BC. Their children: Sam (Patti Anderson), Mary (Jim Hawes), Tony (Maria Anfuso) and Sara (Antonio Cimino).
Sam and Patti Di Maria
Pietro Calissi was born January 1, 1934 in Bagni di Lucca, Tuscany to Ciro Calissi and Maria Ada Rossi, in a family of eight children. He grew up in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana in the province of Lucca. He would have liked to stay in school, but due to difficult conditions after the war, he moved in with the Enrico Ancillotti family and apprenticed as a butcher and sausage maker. Pietro knew the Turri and Andreucci families, from Castelnuovo, who were already in the Okanagan. So, for a couple of years he started to save up some money and learn English.
In March, 1957, at twenty-three years of age, he immigrated to America. He travelled on the Cristoforo Colombo ship to New York, and then by train to Kelowna, British Columbia. He was sponsored by his brother Alfredo. Pietro’s plan was to return to Tuscany to run the Ancillotti butcher shop, but then he met my mom.
Erika was born to Henry Petzold and Berta Demmer in the state of Steiermark, Austria, in 1939. Her family came to Ontario in 1950, when Erika was thirteen. They moved to Kelowna in 1959. Henry worked for the Heinz Koetz Family, on the Black Mountain Potato Farm. It was here that Pietro and Erika met. They were married soon after. Pietro worked at Pioneer Meats and Finn’s Meats in Rutland for fourteen years, making sausage and curing meats.
In 1965, Pietro and Erika purchased a ten acre property on Paynter Road in Westbank, BC. They planted one of the first vineyards in the area. They thought the family farm would be a good environment to raise their family and for the children to learn a trade. Pierre was born in 1960, Bianca in 1962 and Marino in 1967.
Pietro, and son Pierre, purchased thirty-two acres of land in South East Kelowna in 1978. For thirty years they grew apples, pears, sour cherries and grapes.
Pietro was one of the founding members of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club. His family enjoyed many events at the club, especially as the kids were growing up and into their teen years.
Sadly, Pierre passed away suddenly, in 2018, at age fifty-seven and Erika passed in 2020. They are laid to rest at the Westbank Cemetery.
Franco (Frank) Marcanio was the first son, born in 1937, to parents, Vittoriano Marcanio and Elena Ciaccia, in Celano, Abbruzzo, Italy. He had three sisters; Albina, Mariannina and Italia. They worked the land and kept animals to feed their family. Both of Franco’s grandfathers had travelled to North America to earn extra money to bring back to their families. His maternal grandfather, Angelo Ciaccia, made several trips to New York. Franco’s paternal grandfather travelled to Buffalo, New York. He made his first trip in the early 1900’s and made a second trip in 1914, but unfortunately, met an untimely death with a tragic accident upon his arrival. His wife in Italy passed soon after, leaving three orphaned children.
Franco and his sister, Albina, immigrated to Vancouver, Canada in September of 1956. He started working at various jobs, laying blacktop, working in a plastic factory and working for a tailor, making button holes and delivering coal to homes in Vancouver. Early in 1957, Franco secured a job with the CNR in Blue River, BC. He worked for the CNR for the next three years in various roles: railway maintenance, patrolman and section foreman. At this time, Franco became quite experienced at making tomato sauce and cooking spaghetti, which became his daily meal.
In January of 1960, Franco returned to Italy where he met and married the love of his life, Romilde (Romi) Maria Pantoli. They were married in April of 1960. Upon their arrival in Canada, they travelled to Kelowna, BC to meet Romi’s families (Ciancone and Rantucci).
In Kelowna, Franco began building terrazzo floors before working for Calona Wines. He retired 31 years later as the cellar supervisor, which is where he learned the skills of an excellent wine maker.
In 1967, Franco and Romi purchased a small acreage in the Glenmore Valley of Kelowna, where they raised daughters, Elena and Catia. They kept a garden, grew grapes, kept fruit trees and raised a few cows, horses, goats, turkeys, pigs and chickens.
Franco and Romilde still live in Kelowna today. They remain active members of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club and the St. Pius X Catholic Church. They enjoy a full life surrounded by their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Elena Marcanio Tostenson
Luigi Vincenzo DiRenzo was born on July 13, 1932, son of Domenico DiRenzo and Orsola Marianetti, in a small town called Celano, l’Aquila, Abruzzo. He had three sisters: Antonina, Maria, Anna and two brothers, Girolomo and Mattia. The well established DiRenzo family was luckier than most. They were fortunate enough to own land. Working long days on the farm was part of everyday life. After World War II, times were extremely challenging. Luigi had a vision to better his life.
He filled out paperwork and was prepared to immigrate to Australia but, his father, Domenico, who had already been working in Kelowna, BC and living with his sister, Marianna Verna, convinced him to make the journey to Canada. So, in 1956, he set sail for the promised land and never looked back.
Luigi found work on a railway maintenance crew. He then went on to road construction with his Uncle Emilio Verna. His greatest accomplishments were working on the snow sheds of the Rogers Pass and the upgrading of Highway 1 through Boston Bar and Yale, BC. When he spoke about those days, he always had a big smile on his face. Any time off he had, he helped out the local orchardists. He loved to keep busy.
Silvia, daughter of Alessandro Vicaretti and Antonietta Stefanucci, arrived in Kelowna in May, 1958. They were married by proxy, December 23,1957. Luigi and Silvia became the proud parents of six children: Oliva (Rampone), Maria (Moore), Domenico, Antonietta (Spangler) and twin girls, Patricia and Anna. They began their family in a tiny home on Martin Avenue.
One day, while shopping at Capozzi’s store with his wife, Silvia, Luigi was offered a job at Calona Wines. He started on the bottling line and, within a few short years, was promoted to be the head Finish Filter Operator. In 1969, they purchased two acres on Mayer Road. Both Luigi and Silvia grew vegetables and fruit and raised livestock. Luigi loved making wine, sausages and prosciutto.
Wherever Luigi was, whether it was outside changing sprinklers or at a wedding, it would not be out of the norm for him to burst out in song, with family and friends joining in. He certainly was proud of his heritage and was fortunate to be able to return to Italy, on more than one occasion, to visit his family and many friends he left behind. When he was home from his day job and finished his chores outside, you would find Luigi in front of the television cheering on the Vancouver Canucks.
Sadly, Papa Louie passed in August, 2015, after battling cancer.
Lina DiRenzo Rampone
My name is Clelia (Elia) Bertolami. I was born June 22, 1926 in Pontecosi, Lucca, Toscani, Italy. My father was not in favour of the fascist regime, so he immigrated to England, where Mom and I joined him when I was eight years old.
When Italy declared war on Britain, my father was one of the hundreds of Italian men rounded up and deported to a concentration camp on the Isle of Man. Alone and scared, mother and I stayed in our house in London with only candles for light, hiding behind blackened windows and surviving on rationed food. We were terrorized, so my mother decided to apply to the Italian Embassy for help. We embarked on a treacherous three week journey back to our homeland, where we were taken in by my grandparents (Olinto and Isolina Turri). We lived with them until the end of the war.
In the early fifties, the political situation in Italy was unstable. So, my husband, Sergio, young son, Attilo (Ilio), my mother, Rosa (Turri) and I made plans to immigrate to Canada. In 1957, we came straight to Kelowna, BC, where I had two uncles; Sam and Pietro Turri, an aunt, Clelia Martinelli, and several cousins.
As I was a trained teacher, I got a job as a primary teacher and taught in the Kelowna area for 28 years. My husband, Sergio, worked for the Provincial Government in Kelowna as a soil lab technician until he passed away in 1987.
In 1962, our daughter, Angela, was born and we were happily settled in Canada. I am now 94 years old. My children visit me and take good care of me. I’m now living at Chartwell Retirement Residence, where I am well looked after.
Clelia Lunatici Bertolami