Beatrice Celina Vaccaro was born in Kelowna, BC, on July 9, 1926 to parents Sylvio Vaccaro and Maria Rosa Ducharme. Beatrice was the second child, with siblings Sylvia (Alphonse Luknowsky), Maria (Hugh Drybrough) and Ida (Bart Bleile). She was raised on the family acreage at the corner of Burtch (Byrnes) and Guisachan Roads. She attended Central Elementary School and then Kelowna High School. She began working at the Okanagan Shoe Repair shop, that was owned by her parents, when she met Ray Nicholls.
Raymond Herbert Nicholls was born on May 11, 1925 in Lajord, Saskatchewan. Beatrice and Raymond were married on January 11, 1946 at the Immaculate Conception Church on Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna. In 1950, they moved to Carmi, BC, to be closer to Ray’s work, hauling logs for Olinger. Ray hired a team of horses and a faller and hauled logs to the Carmi sawmill. Two years later, he bought a 1954 Mack logging truck. He also bought two ‘TD 9 cats’ for skidding the logs out of the bush and that was the start of Nicholls Logging. When the Carmi sawmill burnt down in 1968, the wood prices were too low to start up some place else and that was the end of Nicholls Logging. Beatrice and Ray went into a partnership with Lyle Shunter, buying a ‘966 front end loader’ and started L & B Contracting. The company was excavating in the BC area. When they decided to semi-retire, they took up ranching and custom haying on Guisachan Road.
Beatrice and Raymond had five children: Deanne Sylvia (Bob Kelley), Raymond Alfred (Jillian), Cindy Louise (Barry Dennett), Trina Marie (Dean Titanich) and Mark Dwayne (Mona). They have 13 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren and 8 great great grandchildren.
In her younger days, Beatrice enjoyed going up to the cabin in Carmi and getting out to do some fishing. She loved being outside and could often be found in her garden. Her passion was her family, and she enjoyed the many gatherings. She also enjoyed going on bus tours with her siblings. Reno was her favourite destination. She was so proud to call Kelowna her home, for sixty-seven years.
Ray was one of the early members of the Kelowna Yacht Club, Regatta Committee and the Fish and Game Club. Ray was the President of the Kelowna Aqua Ski Club, which was on the west side of the lake. You could find many members there using the ski jump and the slalom course. He taught water skiing, and he used his powerful boat to pull the once famous “pyramid girls.” (often with six skiers in tow)
Beatrice passed away on June 9, 1994 and Raymond on June 22, 2019.
Contributed by Mark Nicholls, son.
Caesar Turri was born in Kelowna, BC, in 1924, the son of Samuele and Maria Turri. Nita was born in Kelowna in 1927, the daughter of Emilio and Dolinda Guidi. Both Caesar and Nita went through school and graduated from Kelowna Secondary School. Upon graduation, Caesar worked for Collinson’s Motor Cycle Shop, before joining the Canadian Air Force, during World War II. Nita worked at a local cannery, before going to work at Fumerton’s, a prominent Kelowna department store.
Caesar and Nita were married in 1949. They had three children (Linda, Don and Audrey). Caesar established his own backhoe business and then went to work for the City of Kelowna, eventually becoming Superintendent of Water and Sewer.
Caesar was an active hunter and fisherman. He was also active in the community, including more than thirty years as a volunteer fire fighter, president of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club, and serving on the boards of the Kelowna Fish and Game Club and the Kelowna Catholic School Board. Nita managed the household until all three children became adults. At that point she returned to Fumerton’s and when it eventually closed, she went to work for James Haworth & Son Jewellers.
Upon retirement, Nita and Caesar travelled several times to Italy and across Canada. An annual vacation to Mabel Lake coincided with the salmon run. They were very social people, spending a lot of time with family and friends. They were active gardeners, members of St Pius X Parish and active with their grandchildren. Nita passed away in 2017 and Caesar in 2021.
Contributed by The Turri Family
Sharon Laura Toombs and her twin sister, Sheila Betty Toombs, were born in Kelowna, BC, in 1938 to parents, Mary Lanfranco and William Edward Toombs. They grew up in Kelowna’s north end before moving to Vancouver, BC, with their parents. They finished their schooling in Vancouver.
Sharon’s first job was doing office work for Maple Leaf Milling in Vancouver. She married James (Jim) William Clements in 1957. Jim was born in Vancouver in 1938 to parents, Lorre and Hazel Clements. Jim began work in equipment sales, working his way up to sales manager for Structural Instrumentation, specializing in logging weigh scales. With this job, came travelling the world to sales conventions and promoting his products.
Jim and Sharon had two children, Danny James, 1957, and Linda May, 1960. They have two grand children, Jade and Robin.
Sharon and Jim lived in Vancouver for a few years before Jim was transferred to Edmonton. After seven years, they moved back to Vancouver. In 1977, Sharon was so happy to move back to her hometown of Kelowna. They bought a house in East Kelowna and lived there for thirty seven years. Here they were very involved with the Kelowna Golf Club and playing bridge. They thoroughly enjoyed their swimming pool, hosting many poolside BBQs.
In 2013, Jim, had the beginnings of dementia, so they downsized to a gated community. Jim passed away in 2018. Sharon keeps herself busy playing bridge three to four times a week and enjoys her daily walks, using the time to contemplate her family and friends.
To reconnect with her Italian roots, she joined the Kelowna Canadian Italian club about four years ago. It has been a wonderful source of new friends and many delicious dinner gatherings. She has also joined the Legion, where she really enjoys the dinner dances. She has many fond memories of her years travelling the world with Jim. “Life is good” says Sharon.
Contributed by Sharon L. Toombs Clements
Rhoda Risso was born in 1938 in Kelowna, BC, graduating from Kelowna Senior High. Larry Weisgarber was born in 1937 in Regina, Saskatchewan. He moved to Richmond, BC, where he graduated and went on to join the Royal Bank. When he was transferred to Kelowna, he met his future wife, Rhoda. Larry married Rhoda in Kelowna, December 20, 1958.
After their marriage they moved to Victoria, BC. Larry left the bank and joined Canadian Pacific Airlines, where he pursued a thirty-six year career as Director of Insurance. Rhoda taught ballet to both children and adults, at night school classes, for twenty-six years.
They have three children: Laurie (1959), Sandra (1961) and Richard (1967). Laurie now lives in Kelowna and works for Sun-Rype. Sandra resides in Ottawa and has four children: Adam, Stephanie, Melanie and Natalie. Richard lives in Surrey, British Columbia, works for Air Canada and has two children: Sasha and Sophia.
In 1994, Rhoda and Larry retired and purchased property in Peachland, BC, where they built their house. Rhoda was an active member of the Peachland theatre scene for many years. She also took a special interest in the Risso family history and has written several articles about them.
With Larry’s declining health, Rhoda moved to a Kelowna townhouse in 2020. Larry passed away shortly after.
Contributed by Rhoda Risso Weisgarber
John was the first born of four children to Gaspar Risso and Inez Hewer. The children: John (1934), Alan 1(935), Reta (1936) and Rhoda (1938) were all born in Kelowna, BC. John has lived in Kelowna all his life. He went to Mission Creek School (corner of Benvoulin and KLO Roads) from grades one to eight. For two of those years, John went to school at seven a.m. to light the wood stove fires in three classrooms and one teacher’s room. The wood and kindling were split and put into the wood boxes the day before. He was paid five dollars a month, not bad considering a bottle of Orange Crush from Mugford’s Store cost six cents and a pack of cigarettes was thirty cents. Yes, students smoked in the teacher room, after they had all the stoves going. After graduating from Kelowna Senior High (corner of Harvey Ave and Richter street) in 1952, he found employment at S.M. Simpson Saw Mill.
Antonia immigrated to Canada from Italy in 1951, at the age of thirteen. She first lived in Golden, BC, then Winfield, BC, and finally Oyama, BC. She is the first born of nine children to Geniale Russo and Maria Filice. Toni and John were married in Kelowna in 1958. They have three children: Cathy (Ted Cundy) 1959, Robert (Linda Nicholson) 1962 and David (Nathalie Mehl) 1964.
John and his family operated “Casorso Road Produce,” a fruit and vegetable stand, for about forty years on property that grandpa Vincenzo and Annetta Risso had purchased in parcels, starting in 1913. The property is now home to Green Square Town Houses and the Vert Condo developments.
Contributed by John Risso
Lorenzo Segundo (Gundo) Risso was the son of Antonio Domenico Risso and Orsola Maria Theresa Ollino. He was born on December 10, 1908 in Morgardino, Asti, Piemonte, Italy. As an infant, Gundo travelled from Italy, via Cherbourg, France, to New York with his mother, Orsola, and sister, Theresa, on November 10, 1909.
Lynnea Ingrid Anderson, daughter of Andrew L Anderson and Christina Olsen, was born on June 17, 1917 in Riverhurst, Saskatchewan. Lynnea and Gundo were married in 1939. They had four children: Myrna (James Walker), Lorne (Shirley Montgomery), Wayne (Audrey Miller) and Bryan (Peggy Mallet).
Gundo and Lynnea lived at the Gordon and Casorso Road intersection where they lived on a few acres of land (Gordon Drive and Casorso Road) where they raised cows, pigs and chickens. Gundo spent a number of years as a tree faller. With neighbour, Camillo Lanfranco, he operated a wood lot, above Crawford Falls, where they sold firewood to many Kelowna families.
Hunting and fishing not only provided the family with food, but were also pastimes Gundo pursued for many years. With hunting buddies, Camillo Lanfranco and Jack Suzaki, he owned a cabin in the Little White Mountain area. After Gundo’s father, Antonio, passed away in 1961, he moved to Antonio’s farm on Swamp Road. Here he grew prunes and grapes. Lynnea enjoyed knitting and attending the theatre.
Gundo passed away on August 17, 1969 and Lynnea on August 20, 2001. Gundo is buried at the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery.
D. E. Rampone, Kelowna Canadian Italian Club
Alan James Risso is the second of four children born to Gaspar Risso and Inez Hewer. Born in Kelowna, BC, in 1935, Alan went to Mission Creek School (corner of KLO and Benvoulin Roads) for eight years and then to Kelowna Senior School, near the corner of Harvey Ave and Richter Street. He worked at several different jobs as well as helping his dad, Gaspar Risso, on the farm. This land was on Swamp Road, now Casorso Road between Benvoulin Road and Gordon Drive. The blocks of land were purchased by Vincenzo and Annetta (Rampone) Risso, starting in 1913.
In 1957, Alan went to Edmonton, Alberta, to take a mechanics and welding course. He worked in the oil industry and followed the pipeline to Ontario. In 1958 he came back home to farm with his dad. Alan still lives on the farm at 3755 Casorso Road.
Contributed by John Risso, brother
Elsie Irene Reorda, was born in Kelowna, B.C. on November 2, 1924, to parents Giovanni (John) Giuseppe Reorda and Caroline Maria Ryder. She was the third of six children: Jack, Roy, Elsie, Mildred, Dorothy and Roland.
Her father, Giovanni, was born in Turin, Italy on September 25, 1881. He left Italy, in early March of 1909, heading to the United States, seeking a better life. He arrived at Ellis Island on March 12, 1909 and then made his way to Clealum, Washington where he met up with an uncle who had arrived there four years earlier. Three years later, Giovanni moved to British Columbia. He arrived in Kelowna, in 1912, where he got a job pitching hay for John Casorso. He served in the first World War, and returned to Kelowna in 1920. Shortly after he returned, he met and married Caroline Ryder. Caroline was born in London, England on February 2, 1898. She and her family arrived in Kelowna in 1912. Giovanni worked for the City of Kelowna for 31 years. Caroline was kept busy at home raising their six children.
Jim was born in the farming community of Beiseker, Alberta on April 10, 1921 to parents Peter and Anna Hagel. He grew up on the farm and at the age of 21, he enlisted in the Canadian Army. After four years in the army, he was discharged on February 14, 1946. At some point after that, he made his way to Kelowna, B.C.
Elsie received her education at Kelowna Central Elementary and Kelowna High School. She worked at Shaw’s Candy Store and at a packinghouse. Elsie met and fell in love with Matthias (Jim) Joseph Hagel, and they married on February 5, 1951. They had three daughters: Donna, Shannon and Cheryl. They moved to the Rutland area in 1959, where they raised their family. Jim did part time work until he found a full-time job at Chapman’s Transport (later called Motorways), where he worked until his retirement. Elsie, was a full-time homemaker and enjoyed having coffee with neighbours and working in her flower garden. All three daughters married and have children and grandchildren of their own.
Elsie lived her entire life in the Kelowna area. Her husband, Jim passed away on January 28, 2005 and Elsie passed away on November 6, 2019 at the age of 95. Both are interred at the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery, as well as her parents, Giovanni and Caroline.
Contributed by Cheryl Hagel Tanaka, daughter
Elmo Gino Rantucci was born in Kelowna, B. C., on August 11, 1935 to Carmine Loredo Rantucci and Ida Clementina Ciancone. He attended Glen Avenue, Dehart and Central Elementary Schools before heading over to Kelowna High School. Elmo was kept out of mischief by working on their family acreage at the base of Knox Mountain in Kelowna’s north end. He was known to join the other local boys to “run the booms” in Okanagan Lake. The wide, open areas of Kelowna’s north end gave Elmo a place to enjoy fishing and horseback riding. After graduation he attended Victoria Normal School for one year of teacher training. After that, he returned to Kelowna to work for Orchard City Press where he earned his journeyman lithographer papers. His next job was with The Hudson Bay and while there he took the Real Estate and Appraisal Course. When completed, this gave him the credentials to join The City Of Kelowna in the Tax and Assessment office. Shortly after, Elmo made his final move to The B.C. Assessment Authority as a property appraiser, where he retired at age 60.
Emma Isolina Turri was born on December 22, 1938, in the beautiful town of Pontecosi, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy to Pietro Guglielmo Turri and Esterina Assunta Gragnani. With her family she arrived in Kelowna in 1952 and Emma began attending school. They moved to Summerland where she completed her schooling. Following that she attended Herbert Business College in Kelowna specializing in Accounting. Then she worked at Calona Wines, Barr and Anderson Plumbing and Heating and Jabs Construction. In 1973, she completed more courses and reached her dream of becoming a licensed Real Estate Agent. During this time, she was instrumental for the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club (after searching for years) to finally acquire their place to call home (and still is!).
Elmo and Emma met picking peaches at Casa Loma Orchards on the west side, along the Lake. They were married on June 11, 1961. They have 3 boys: Robert (Tanis), Peter (Andrea) and Chris (Patricia). They are loving grandparents to three grandsons: Jonathon, Justin and Gabriel.
Elmo held various positions with both the Knights of Columbus and the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club. He has maintained an avid interest in the old-time Italian families and Kelowna’s early history. Emma volunteered for the MS Carnation Drives, as a Director for Sunnyvale School, a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and for many years as a Trustee for Glenmore/Ellison Irrigation District. Emma and Elmo acquired acreage on Sexsmith and Reynolds Roads, where for a number of years, they operated a mixed farm and enjoyed many activities with family and friends. They also built a home on their acreage on Mission Creek in the Greystokes area which they enjoyed (as a home away from home) specially in the summer with family and friends fishing and sitting by the bonfire, roasting hot dogs, marshmallows and singing old Italian songs. In 2015 they sold the summer home. In 2016, they sold the Sexsmith property to their son, Robert. The Glenmore area has been their home for fifty years and continues to be since the move to their retirement home at Sandpoint.
Contributed by Emma and Elmo Rantucci
Valentino Rampone was born in Kelowna General Hospital on March 27, 1922. He was the first child born to Domenico and Giuseppina Rampone, and was the third generation of the Rampone family to live in Kelowna, BC. He was very proud of his heritage, the history of Kelowna, and the people who emigrated from the different countries around the world.
In 1942, my father joined the Royal Canadian Engineers (Canadian Army). He was discharged in 1945 and returned home to Kelowna. He learned the trade of a draftsman, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he designed and built a number of homes around the Kelowna General Hospital area.
In 1947, Val married a young Italian girl who arrived in Kelowna via Golden, BC. Her name was Erza (Elsie) Russo, and her family came from southern Italy. He designed and built a modest home on Gordon Drive; they lived there until 1962. Erza passed away in 2005.
Val worked in construction until the early 1950s, but decided that working out of town so much was not the way to raise a family. There was not much construction happening in Kelowna at that time, and so he decided to take a job as a clerk in the Post Office, which he worked at until his retirement in the 1970s. He enjoyed his time at the Post Office; he could keep his hand on the pulse on the community that he lived in and was so proud of. The day that they tore down the old Post Office, on the corner of Bernard Avenue and Ellis Street, was a very sad day for Dad. He tried to have the building saved but was unsuccessful; he thought that it would have been a landmark for the City of Kelowna.
In 1956, Val and Erza purchased some swamp property on Lakeshore Road (now on the corner of Lakeshore and Lanfranco), and decided to build an apartment motel and call it Valentino’s Villa. When my mom decided to purchase this property, my dad was so annoyed that she would spend hard earned money on a piece of swamp that was no good for anything, that he would not even drive her to the lawyer's office to sign the documents - she had to take a taxi. My dad built one unit a year until the complex was complete. In 2006, Val was proud when his family decided to start a commercial complex on this site.
Valentino Rampone enjoyed being involved in his community; he was a director of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, alderman of the City of Kelowna, committee member of the Advisory Planning Commission for the City of Kelowna, board member of St. Charles Gamier Parish Council, President of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club, Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, and member of the Father Pandosy Council of the Knights of Columbus. He was also a member of the Okanagan Historical Society and enjoyed the Annual General Meetings and dinners.
The one event in his life that he was the most proud of was the re-discovery of the first Catholic Cemetery in Kelowna, on our farm on Gordon Drive. He remembered, as a young boy, seeing crosses and head stones at this cemetery site. In 1967, he purchased the farm. By 1983, my father contacted Professor James Baker, of Okanagan College, to see if an archaeological dig could happen, and a permanent remembrance be established. The dig took place, and about fifty graves were found. A small church was constructed to remember Father Pandosy and the people who were buried there.
The motto for the City Of Kelowna - "Fruitful in Unity" - meant a lot to my dad. He often said that as a community, if we work together, we can be successful.
Adapted from an article by son, Domenic Rampone, in the 72nd Report of the Okanagan Historical Society, 1972.