The Kelowna Canadian Italian Club owes its existence to the twenty-one charter members and the twenty-four, first year members of our club. These 45 families are honoured on the Founders Plaques in the KCIC Hall. We are a proud club. Since its inception, in 1966, we have operated solely on volunteer participation. Many members have worked hard into their 80s. Our members are cooks, chefs, carpenters, artisans, orchardists, farmers, clerks, office workers and business owners. In our 56 years of existence, there have also been hundreds of others who have served in executive, director, committee and member roles. They have provided building maintenance, cooked dinners, organized galas, volunteered in the community, built and maintained bocce lanes, raised funds, balanced the books, built floats, taught cooking, language and dance classes, presented Lady of the Lake candidates, and phoned members.
There is one couple for which we would like to provide a special tribute…
Joe and Bianca Iafrancesco.
They may not been founding members, but for the past 50 years they were definitely builders of the club that we see today. On behalf of all the members of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club, Thank you for all your work.
Giuseppe (Joe) Iafrancesco and Maria Bianca Russo
Giuseppe (Joe) Iafrancesco was born on March 19, 1947 in Sepino, Campobasso, Italy. He was the son of Pasquale Iafrancesco and Vittoria Iafrancesco (nee Ficocelli). He had twin siblings, brother Giovanni and sister Vitangela, born in 1937. Joe’s father, Pasquale, immigrated to Canada in 1949 and went to work for Canadian Pacific Railway in Field, B.C. Brother, Giovanni, immigrated in 1953 and sister, Vitangela, immigrated in 1957. Joe and his mother arrived by air at Montreal in 1963 and went on to Calgary, Alberta to join the family.
In 1967, Joe was employed by Canadian Pacific Railway, spending thirty years as a Conductor/Brakeman with both the running trades and VIA Rail. In 1976, he married his lifetime partner, Maria Bianca Russo (herein after referred to as Bianca), daughter of Amedeo and Armerinda Russo (nee Pucci) in Kelowna, B.C. Bianca was born in Cleto, Cosenza, Italy in 1952. She immigrated to Canada in 1957, landing at Ellis Island, NY, traveling north to Fort. Erie, Ontario and onto Kelowna. She has four sisters-Lucia, Florinda, Rita and Erminia and two brothers - Franco and Settimio. Bianca worked as an accountant/tax preparer throughout her career. She owned her own accounting practice for many years before selling it prior to retirement. She sat on Interior Savings Credit Union board for sixteen years. Throughout their years together, Joe and Bianca invested in and managed their commercial and residential properties. They also enjoyed their hobby orchard in Glenmore.
Joe loved his vintage cars, golfing and volunteering. An exemplary volunteer and very social person, Joe was well known in Kelowna for his dedication/commitment to community. Locally, he spent endless hours helping various community organizations, including the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club, Knights of Columbus, Columbus Holding Society, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, Uptown Rutland Business Association, Downtown Kelowna Association, Central OK Crimestoppers, Folkfest, BC Summer Games and numerous charity fundraising events. Provincially and federally, he volunteered his time for the National Congress of Italian Canadians, the National Museum of Civilization (Ottawa) and the 2001 opening of Pier 21 (Halifax).
Joe’s passion was his Italian culture and the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club. He served as President for fifteen years, as well as other positions. He spent countless hours working to make sure that the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club survived, was in good financial status and that the Italian culture remained strong in Kelowna for future generations. Under his guidance, many projects and fundraisers were achieved, including the major renovation of the clubhouse in 2015, the 1st BC Provincial Convention in 1983 and the 1st Western Canadian Convention of BC Italian clubs/organizations (1984), the fundraisers for the Italian earthquake relief efforts, Variety Club Telethon fundraisers and numerous other fundraisers to help the community. Always at his side, Bianca served various positions with the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club as well.
Joe’s recognition awards were many and include the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), Kelowna’s Fred Macklin Man of the Year Award (2018), Finalist for Kelowna’s Fred Macklin Man of the Year (1989 and 2000) and Central OK Crimestoppers Volunteer of the Year Award (1998).
An optimist to the very end, Joe passed away from lung cancer on November 2, 2018. He touched many lives and will continue to do so through his very substantial donations to the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and Kelowna’s Joanna’s House and through the time and help he gave to so many volunteer organizations and people. He is entombed at Lakeview Memorial Gardens Mausoleum in Kelowna, B.C.
Maria Bianca (Russo) Iafrancesco
On March 22, 1966, The Kelowna Canadian Italian Club was granted a Certificate of Incorporation in the province of British Columbia. Above we include that document and the signature pages of the original Charter.
The story for Angelo and Clelia Martinelli was published in 2020 and can be found at:
Angelo and Clelia Martinelli
TThe stories for Sergio and Clelia Bertolami, Frank and Romi Marcanio, Pietro and Esterina Turri and Pietro and Erika Calissi were published in 2021 and can be found at:
Sergio and Clelia Bertolami
Frank and Romi Marcanio
Pietro and Esterina Turri
Pietro and Erika Calissi
Gelindo and Gina Fabbro
Gelindo was one of the twenty-one Charter Members that formed the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club. He was one of several Summerland families that we thank for their work in getting our club in Kelowna formed. Gelindo and his wife, Gina, farmed in the Summerland area for many years. They have one son, Leo. Gelindo passed away in 2020. Gina was sister to Olivia Morello. Upon his request, details of his life are to remain private.
Don Rampone, KCIC Heritage Committee
Dominico and Olivia (Livia) Morello
Dominico Morello was one of the forty-one founding members of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club in 1966. At the time, Dominico was a shoemaker and Livia was a sales clerk. They lived at 1295 Glenmore Street, Kelowna, BC, across from the St Pius X Church. They had one daughter, Piera Francesca, who married Gary Patrick Greaves. Piera and Gary spent most of their years in Drumheller, Alberta. Livia was sister to Gina Fabbro.
Don Rampone, KCIC Heritage Committee
The stories for Rosario and Giovanna Di Maria, Alfredo and Valentina Calissi, Amedeo and Armerinda Russo, Pasquale and Vittoria Iafrancesco and Giovanni and Gina Petretta were published in 2021 and can be found at:
Rosario and Giovanna Di Maria
Alfredo and Valentina Calissi
Amedeo and Armerinda Russo
Pasquale and Vittoria Iafrancesco
Giovanni and Gina Petretta
The story for Samuele and Maria Turri was published in 2019 and can be found here.
Samuele and Maria Turri
The stories for Santo and Carmela Giordano, Santo and Italia Truant, Luigi and Regina Bazzana and Guilio and Giovanna Menta were published in 2020 and can be found at:
Santo and Carmela Giordano
Santo and Italia Truant
Luigi and Regina Bazzana
Guilio and Giovanna Menta
Luciano (Lou) Zol was born in the small village of Orcenico Superiore, Pordenone, Udine, Italy on May 28, 1938, to parents Rafaele Zol and Maria Pasutti. After the tragic loss of both his parents, at the young age of thirteen, Lou bravely got on a ship and immigrated to Canada settling in Genelle, B.C., living with his aunt and uncle, Gigi Zol. He grew up to be a strong young man and a few years later moved to Cranbrook to work for a local sawmill. Boarding with the Pagurut family, he instantly became their surrogate son. This bond continued throughout his life. In 1963, Lou changed his career and moved to Kelowna to become a barber.
Maria Luciana Andreucci was born in Antisciana, Lucca, Tuscany, on February 11, 1947 to Angelo Andreucci and Anna Maria Biagioni. Maria and her family arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1956 and made their journey by train to the Kootenays in BC. From there, they boarded the Kettle Valley Railway and made they way to meet her uncle in Penticton. Her family became orchardists in Summerland. Maria met Lou at a chance meeting in Long’s Drug Store Coffee Shop, at the Capri Mall. His handsome looks, mischievous grin, and good-natured demeanour quickly won her attention. They were married in Summerland on July 31, 1965 and this union lasted for 56 years.
After attending barber school in Vancouver, Lou built a successful 54-year career in barbering. He crossed paths with many people over the years and cherished these friendships. He had a way of making insignificant moments meaningful and he refused to cut a style of hair he didn’t like. If you wanted to know what was happening in Kelowna, Lou certainly knew! Maria became a hairstylist, operating a small studio in the Mediterranean Market building. Later, she opened a shop next to Lou’s barber shop on Sutherland Avenue.
Lou was very proud of his Italian heritage. In 1966, he was one of the twenty-one founders of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club, where he spent many nights dancing alongside his wife, Maria. Lou’s passions in life were playing soccer, attending to his massive garden, watching junior hockey in Kelowna, and spending many years playing golf. His greatest joys were being together with his wife and having as many family and friends for visits around the dinner table. It was never a quiet time!
Maria, and Lou have three children: Dino (Karen), Angela (Mike Lavediere), and Diano (Connie), as well as nine grandchildren and two great granddaughters.
Luciano Zol passed away on November 4th, 2021, in Kelowna, after a brief battle with cancer.
Dino, Angela and Diano Zol
Renato Fortunato Giovanni Vaccaro was born on April 17, 1927 in Crespano del Grappa, a village of Piece del Grappa, Trevisio, Veneto, Italy. His parents were Joshua Vaccaro and Maria Ceccato. Renato had one sister, Vittoria (Mario Zambon). After World War II, North America, especially western Canada was the beacon for many Italian families. In 1949, Renato was invited by his uncle, Sylvio Vaccaro, to join him in his shoe repair shop in Kelowna, BC.
Renata Turri was born on March 17, 1933 in Pontecosi, Garfagnana, Lucca, Toscana, Italy, to parents Pietro Turri and Esterina Gragnani. She has one sister, Emma (Elmo) Rantucci. In 1952, The Turri family ventured to Summerland, BC, joining family friends, the Bonaldi and Bravos. They moved to Kelowna to be nearer Pietro’s brother, Samuele Turri, and his family
Renato and Renata met in Summerland at English speaking classes. They were married, in Summerland, on January 15, 1955. Renato and Renata had one son, John, who married Cheryl Wilson.
Renato and Renata lived in a suite at Caesar Turri’s home until 1959, when they built a house towards Knox Mountain on Richter Street. The neighbourhood had a high density of fellow Italians: Guidi, Bertucci, Turri, Marcanio, Rantucci, Ciancone, Loretto, Menta, Bazzana, Martinelli and Truant. Renato learned the shoe repair trade from his Uncle Sylvio, eventually purchasing the shop from him. Renata worked shifts for the fruit packing houses in the North end of Kelowna and was a busy caretaker of the house and John.
Renata loved to bake and share social times with her friends in the community. Renato enjoyed the camaraderie when playing bocce, hunting, making wine, sausages and salamis. They were both part of the development of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club, an important meeting / social place of the local Italian community. The club also ensured that Italians, as a whole, could be stronger and more influential in Kelowna’s growth.
Renata passed away, suddenly, in August, 2005. Renato, passed away of natural causes, at Kelowna General Hospital on December 23, 2008. They were both interred at Kelowna Cemetery, resting together, a rest they deserved after a lifetime helping strangers and of loving and sharing with family and friends.
John Vaccaro, son
Celeste Tomasini was born on December 8, 1931 in San Giovanni di Casarsa, Udine, Friuili-Venizia to parents, Giovanni and Maria. He was brother to Giovanni, Angelo, Teresa, Regina, Umberto, Gemma and Pietro. Gianna Trevisan was born on August 27, 1935 in Prodenone, Udine, Friuli-Venizia to parents, Giuseppe Trevisan and Carolina Pazutto. She is sister to Giovanni, Maria, Giuseppe, Lydia, Aldo, Adelchi, Ada and Rosanna. They have two daughters: Loretta (Don Sumanik) and Liana (Fred Hunsche).
Since there was little opportunity in Italy, Celeste immigrated to Canada in 1954 and Gianna in 1956. They followed on the foot steps of Celeste’s brother, Angelo, sister Regina and brother-in-law Luigi (Louie) Bazzana. Celeste arrived by passenger ship at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he boarded a train, across Canada, to Prince Rupert, BC. His family had arranged a job for him with the Canadian National Railway. Celeste and Luigi Bazzana took advantage of free train fare to go to Kelowna, BC, where they visited Louie’s uncle, Gino Bazzana. Gino worked at the Kelowna Sawmill where there were jobs available. Celeste and Luigi fell in love with Kelowna and they soon made plans to move there. In 1956, Gianna and Loretta arrived in Kamloops, BC, where the family met them and took them to Kelowna.
Celeste had apprenticed in Italy as a carpenter and a bricklayer. He worked for two years on the railroad near Prince Rupert. In Kelowna he found work with Douillard Construction. He worked for them for over thirty years. Gianna worked in the cannery and packing houses, as well as picking grapes and other fruits and vegetables in harvest season.
Soccer, fishing and building things were a big part of Celeste’s life. He was one of the twenty-one charter members of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club. Both Celeste and Gianna enjoyed taking part in the club and participating in its growth.
Celeste passed away on October 19, 1992 and is interred at Kelowna Memorial Gardens.
Loretta Tomasini Sumanik, daughter
Biagio was born 1923 in Belovici, Italy (today Belavići, Croatia). His home region in Istria changed hands from Italy to Yugoslavia. Today Istria is under Croatia’s flag.
He was the only one of his 3 siblings: Josip, Ana and Ivan – to exile himself from his home in Pola (today Pula, Croatia). In order to remain Italian, he, along with many other local ethnic Italians, left his home during the Istrian–Dalmatian exodus post-World War II. The Paris Peace Treaty assigned eastern Istria to Yugoslavia. In June, 1957 he boarded the Italian passenger vessel “Vulcania,” making the journey from Napoli to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He travelled by train from Halifax to Kelowna, BC, registered as an agricultural worker.
While in Pola, Biagio worked at the Uljanik shipyard as a “Carpentiere in legno” for close to ten years. In Kelowna, he worked for Luigi (Lou) Guidi, as a carpenter, until he retired.
He was granted his Canadian citizenship in 1963. In 1969, Biagio met Sheila Potter, who lived in Kelowna with her son Glenn Potter. They married and had two children: Denise Tade and Brian Tade. He and Sheila would eventually get divorced in 1986.
For many years, family and friends knew Biagio as “Ted”. This came to be because when he introduced himself he would start with his surname, first. “Tade” was misunderstood as Ted, and so the nickname stuck for some time.
He met Anna in 1990, and moved to Summerland, BC, where he enjoyed the best years of his life. He had a life-long friendship with fellow Kelowna Canadian Italian Club founder, Alfredo Bonaldi, who also lived in Summerland.
Biagio worked hard to provide for his family and had a knack for growing amazing gardens. A talented wine maker, he started with grapes and used traditional oak barrels. He was happiest fishing and camping at his favourite spot, just outside of Summerland. He lived his last years in the Fraser Valley and passed away in 2020 at the age of 97.
Denise Tade, daughter