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
Rosario Filice was born 1925 in Borgile, Cosenza, Calabria. Iolanda Russo was born 1923 in Cleto, Cosenza, Calabria. They were married in Cleto, Cosenza, in 1944 and had four children before immigrating to Canada: Anna (Florindo Pucci), Eugenio (Barbara Isaak), Rosa (Tom Watkins) and Mary (Allan Humble).
Rosario immigrated to Canada in February, 1955. Sponsored by his brother-in-law, Geniale Russo, he left Naples and travelled alone by ship. He docked at Pier 21, Halifax. Before leaving Italy, he worked on his father, Eugenio’s farm, and as a side job, made roof tiles. Upon his arrival to British Columbia by train, Rosario worked for the CPR in Invermere (and later, Kelowna).
In January, 1957, Iolanda, along with the four young children, left Naples and set sail to Halifax on the ship, Olympia. The family travelled by train across Canada, met Rosario at the Enderby Station, and travelled by bus to be with family waiting for them in Oyama. In January 1958, when living in Kelowna, Iolanda and Rosario welcomed their first Canadian born son, Frank, and then in September 1963, Albert joined the family.
Rosario was a quiet man, who was instantly liked by all those who met him. He worked hard to support his family and always appreciated the assistance of those family members who arrived before him. Sadly, Rosario fell ill and passed away in 1966 at the age of forty, leaving a young family to adjust to their new country. Iolanda, a very determined woman, raised all six children to be proud Canadian Italians and carry on the legacy their father was unable to fulfill. She worked in the orchards and on the farms alongside her brothers until she was well into her seventies. A pillar of the family, she lived independently until her passing in 2007. Upon her passing, Rosario’s remains were relocated from the Catholic Cemetery to Lakeview Memorial Gardens, where they were laid to rest together. Iolanda and Rosario instilled an admirable work ethic and legacy of love in their six children, sixteen grandchildren and thirty-two great-grandchildren.
Jill Pucci Hotchkiss
Amedeo Russo was born on March 7, 1929, in Cleto, Italy. He was one of eight children born in Italy to Giovanni and Antonia Russo. His brothers were Geniale, Guerino, and Orlando and his sisters were Carmela (Pagliaro), Iolanda (Filice), Erminia and Maria-Cristina. He married Armerinda Pucci (daughter of Antonio and Gilda Pucci) on November 22, 1951. Armerinda was born on February 25, 1932 in Cleto. Her brothers were Florindo and Salvatore and her sisters were Maria (Berardelli) and Ida (Pulice).
Two children were born in Italy: Maria Bianca and Lucia Mirella. In order to make a better life for his family, Amedeo decided to join his two brothers who were already in the Kelowna/Oyama area. Sponsored by his brother, Geniale Russo, he landed at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia on February 28, 1955. When Armerinda and daughters arrived, Amedeo rented and then bought a house from Valentino & Erza (cousin) Rampone on Patsy Road.
In 1957, Armerinda and daughters, Bianca and Lucia, made their way from Italy, to Ellis Island, headed north to Fort Erie, Ontario. They travelled by train to Salmon Arm, BC, and by bus to Kelowna, BC. Five more children, Florinda, Rita, Franco Oresto, Erminia Theresa and Settimio were born in Kelowna.
When Amedeo arrived, he worked temporary jobs for his Uncle Giovanni Russo and for his brother, Geniale Russo, logging and then at a sawmill in Golden, BC. He was employed 1956-1963 with C.P. Rail as a maintenance trackman and 1963-1990 with the local Kelowna sawmill, formerly Simpson’s Sawmill. He was an original member of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club. He had a strong and proud belief in the promotion of his Italian culture. Armerinda remains an honorary member to this day. Upon his retirement from the mill, he enjoyed working at his vegetable stand on his Casorso Road hobby farm. He was always a very positive person and loved spending time with his family, gardening, making homemade wine, watching football and hockey and playing briscola cards and checkers. Armerinda, being the calm, quiet, dedicated mother she was, raised her seven children. When her children were older, she worked part-time and helped Amedeo at their vegetable stand. They were both very proud to obtain their Canadian citizenship in August, 1974.
Maria Bianca married Giuseppe (Joe) Iafrancesco and worked as an accountant/tax preparer. Both were very active volunteering for numerous organizations in this community, especially the Kelowna Canadian Italian club. Joe passed away in 2018 and Bianca lives in Kelowna. Lucia married Rudy Litz, and helps operate her husband’s business - L&O Wholesale Jewellry in Kelowna. Florinda married Israel Salas and is a youth worker in Pitt Meadows, BC. Rita is a retired school teacher. She married Kevin Witzke and is living in Kelowna. Frank married Valita Gale and is a self-employed construction contractor in Kelowna. Erminia married Noel Thorpe. She was very active in world volleyball sports, including the Olympics and lives in Edmonton, AB. Settimio married Carolyn Georgetti and is also in the construction trade in Kelowna.
Armerinda and Amedeo were married for 58 years. She continues to enjoy her family and lives in the home she and Amedeo built in 1970, on Landie Road, in Kelowna. Unfortunately, Amedeo passed away on January 29, 2010. He is entombed at Lakeview Memorial Gardens Mausoleum in Kelowna.
M. Bianca Russo Iafrancesco
Alfredo Calissi was born in 1931 in Barga, Italy, in the Garfagnana Valley, near Lucca. He was one of eight children of Ciro Calissi and Ada Rossi. He lived most of his life in Italy, in the neighbouring city of Castelnuovo. His family were farmers, growing grapes, making wine and raising various farm animals. Growing up, Alfredo worked with his family, in neighbouring farms and foraged for wild mushrooms in the forest.
Alfredo moved to Canada in 1951, living the first few years in Fort Frances, Ontario, where he worked as a labourer for the railroad. At the time, the Canadian railroad network was moving from steam to diesel locomotives and the gauge of the rails needed to be upgraded, to accommodate heavier trains. The work was hard and the living conditions were difficult.
Before Alfredo left for Canada, one of his neighbours gave him the address of a relative of theirs, living in Kelowna, BC. He wrote to that family and they convinced him to move to Kelowna and the beautiful Okanagan Valley.
He found it difficult to find employment in Kelowna, instead working in Kamloops, BC, Port Hardy, BC, and Beaverdell, BC. In a few years, the development of a new sawmill in Kelowna, landed him a construction job, and later, steady employment in the plywood division as a clipper operator.
He married Valentina Bachmann in 1955, and sponsored his two brothers, Pietro and Lorenzo Calissi, to come to Kelowna shortly afterwards. Both Pietro and Lorenzo resided in Kelowna.
Alfredo and Valentina purchased an apple orchard in East Kelowna in 1962, where they raised three children: Piera, David and James. Alfredo built a career as an orchardist, growing apples and cherries and shipping his fruit to a cooperative packinghouse.
Alfredo passed away in 2014 and is interred at the St Theresa’s cemetery in Kelowna.
Domenico Petretta was born on March 22, 1924, in Santo Stefano del Sole, in the province of Avellino, Italy. He married Maria Luparelli (also from Santo Stefano) who was born on December 9, 1925. They had three children: Franca born in 1953, Diana born in 1956 and Antonio (Tony) born in 1958).
Domenico came to Canada, landing in Kelowna, BC, in 1954. He worked on the railroad for a few years. In 1955, his wife, Maria, and daughter, Franca, followed. After his family came, he worked for many years for the City of Kelowna. Maria worked, for some time, at a local Packing House.
In 1965, they bought a twenty acre orchard and vineyard, in what was then called Lakeview Heights, where Domenico stayed until his death in 1998. Maria passed away in 2015.
After moving to Vancouver, BC, in 1977, daughter, Franca, married Michael Tadman in 1979 (deceased in 2000) and worked at the University of BC from 1987 until retirement in 2018. Diana also moved to Vancouver in 1986 and worked at the Workers Compensation Board from 1987 until 2020. Tony worked for twenty-five years for Calona Wines, after which he took over the family vineyard. He also manages several other vineyards in Kelowna.
Domenico and Maria have three grandchildren: Franca’s daughter, Aline (married to Justin Taylor), and Tony’s children: Daughter, Kayleen (married to Jamie Smith - their daughter Sophia and son Dominic), and Michael (fiancée Dallace Dobbin).