Giovanni Casorso’s 1883 arrival in the Okanagan Valley, and his subsequent establishment of a ranch, led to many more arrivals of Italian families from the Tonco, Piemonte area. Many of these families got their start working on the Casorso ranch before starting their own farms. One of those early families was that of Carlo (Charles) Balagno and his wife Felicita Allara.
The 1910 and 1930 census records list Carlo’s arrival in New York as 1880. From New York, he made his way to the Port of San Francisco. By 1884, the BC Directory for Nanaimo lists Carlo as a miner. His wife, Felicita, arrived in San Francisco in 1885 with children Josephine and Corado. They arrived in Okanagan Mission in 1887. Carlo was working for Giovanni Casorso while establishing a pre-emption at Duck Lake, just east of the Dry Valley Road (Glenmore Road).
The Balagno farm was extensively into fruit and vegetable raising and his melons and tomatoes were among the earliest to ripen. His potatoes found a market in Vernon. A Vernon newspaper called Charles Balagno the “Mission Chicken Man” and “The Mission Valley Chicken King.” In 1891, he sold $1200 worth of poultry and garden produce in Vernon.
During their residence in the Okanagan, children Peter, Mary, Joseph, Antony, Charles and Victoria were born. Although a date for the departure of Carlo and Felicita from the Okanagan is not known, a January 23, 1897 marriage record in Wellington, (Nanaimo) BC, for their daughter Josephine, shows she married Camillo Sampietro, a miner. By 1906 Carlo made a declaration of Intention for Naturalization for himself, Felicita and his eight children. Their residence is shown as Oakland, Alameda County, California.
In 1909 Carlo is listed as a bartender, Charles and Joseph as labourers and Peter as a brakeman. The 1921 directory lists Chas (Felicita) Balagno, farmer in San Pablo, Richmond, California. A newspaper ad in 1930 requests a supply of 500 “pullets.” Felicta passed away in 1927 at the age of 70 and Carlo in 1945 at age 91. Many descendants of Carlo and Felicita still reside in California.