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).
My father, Pietro Turri, was born January 29, 1904 in Pontecosi, Tuscany, Italy to Olinto and Isolina Valdrighi. He married my mother, Esterina Gragnani and lived with his parents operating a large farm of every type of fruit and livestock. They had two daughters, Renata (Vaccaro) and Emma (Rantucci). Dad always wanted to join his brother, Samuele and sister, Clelia in Kelowna, BC.
After the trials and tribulations of World War II, Dad was even more anxious to immigrate to Canada. In early 1952, we arrived in Halifax and travelled by train through the wintery prairies. We put foot on “the promising land” that Dad believed would give us the opportunity to live a better life.
For the first year, he worked for the Capozzis on the Black Mountain vineyard, while in the summer, the rest of the family worked at Casa Loma Orchards, picking peaches. The following year, Pietro was offered a job in Summerland by an Italian orchardist, so the family followed him there and also worked in the orchard. He was an accomplished orchardist and “jack of all trades” and could repair almost anything.
Esterina worked as a seamstress for Henderson’s Cleaners. Later, dad joined the City of Kelowna work force. In the early 1960’s, he built a house on Bay Avenue. His home was his castle. Many immigrants from around Pontecosi and friends of Pietro’s family, chose Kelowna as their destination. Pietro organized bocce, card games, picnics, hunting and fishing in Mission Creek. In 1965, he helped form The Kelowna Canadian Italian Club.
Esterina passed away in 1995. Pietro left us in 2004 at age 100. We believe Dad really fulfilled his dreams, immigrating to Canada, and making it possible for him and his family to live a safe, happy and successful life. Amen.
Emma Turri Rantucci
Guerino (Gary) Russo was born on April 14, 1932 in Cleto, Cosenza, Calabria. He was the youngest of a large family. He was raised by his mother, and older siblings, as his father died when Gary was only two years old. His early years were spent on the family’s farm.
In 1952, Gary came to Canada to find a better life than the land in Porcaria area could provide. The early years in Canada were spent working in the forest and on the railway with his Uncle John and brother, Geno. After several years of hard work, Gary was financially secure and ready for the next phase of his life. He followed the Italian tradition and wrote to Antonio Fata, asking for permission to marry Antonio’s daughter, Ida. To Gary’s great pleasure, Ida told her father to say yes. They were married by proxy on December 9, 1954. Ida arrived in Canada in 1955 and their children, Orlando, Lorni and Linda, were born soon after.
Gary and Ida first lived in Winfield, before moving to the Five Bridges area of Kelowna, BC. From there, they moved to a house near Gyro park before building a house on their Benvoulin Road farm. There was never a man who was prouder of his crops or the size of his vegetables. On many an occasion Gary would have his children make signs proclaiming the glory of his produce. Farming wasn’t an art to Gary, it was a science. His rows were the straightest. Planting and tending the crops followed strict rules, followed by all, except for Ida who scattered seeds here and there and managed to grow things just as well.
Soon grandchildren were part of the family. Now came the time for the couple to really enjoy their lives. The grandchildren were the one’s that really got to see the kind and soft side of Gary. The farm was turned over to the children and Gary became a hobby farmer. The fishing and hunting, that had been necessary to feed the family, became a pleasant diversion. Gary and Ida had time to grow grapes and to make wine. They grew figs and planted fruit and nut trees in every corner of the property. Once, when asked why they continued to plant so many trees Gary replied “so our grandchildren will always have something to eat”.
Gary passed away on January 28, 2015 at the age of 82. He is survived by his wife, Ida, three children, ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Wendy Tache Russo
The Verna family adventure started in 1951, when Emilio Verna left Celano, L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy, in search of a better life for his family. Emilio’s wife, Marianna, and children, Giovanna, Marisa, Romolo and Marcello followed in 1953. The family disembarked, like many immigrants from Europe, through the renowned Pier 21 in Halifax. They travelled by train across Canada. With great joy, and relief, Emilio, along with Aunt Orsolina and Uncle Giuseppe, met Marianna and the kids in Kelowna, BC.
In Italy, Emilio had a business of transporting goods from one town to another with his horses and cart. Marianna, looked after the four children and the family farm. She would hire transient workers to bring in the grain harvest and at the same time she would make big lunches for both family and workers. In Kelowna, Emilio worked on the Constantini farm, located on Rutland Road. His terms and conditions of immigration required him to maintain employment and self reliance.
After the family reunited, they lived in a number of houses, including one owned by family friends Agostino & Marietta Cacchioni. After several years they acquired a small acreage on Brookside Avenue, near Capri mall. The family grew pretty much all the fruits and vegetables with a big garden and chickens. Emilio worked in the mining and construction industries. Road construction projects included the Hope-Princeton, Rogers Pass and Mara Lake (around Revelstoke). He cherished his home, farm, friends, family and homemade wine.
Giovanna, the eldest child, went to Calgary to work, returning to Kelowna, where she met her future husband, Lorenzo Romei. They were blessed with five children Michele, Mario, Assunta, Lorenzo and Rita. The Romei's purchased Winfield Garage in 1961 and four years later purchased an orchard where they raised their family in Winfield (Now Lake Country) In 1978 they replaced the garage with Il Cavaliere Pub.
Marisa went to Kelowna Secondary School and eventually met Luigi Russo. They had five children: John, Tony, Geneen, Gloria and Robert. Luigi and Marisa became orchardists in Rutland, Glenmore and Lake country. They also operated a small lumber mill in Rutland for over forty years.
Romolo (Rome) also attended Kelowna Secondary and then went to Calgary to further his education. He met and married Cathy Rebaudengo and had two children: Giuliana and Anthony. Romolo spent most of his career in sales and Marketing, with Xerox, Investors Group, GE and Bombardier.
Marcello went to school at Dr Knox, and became a star hockey player, and fan favourite, with the Kelowna Buckaroo hockey team. He met and married Linda Smith. They have four children: Lia, Emilio, Tana, and Carlo. Marcello and Linda made their living in farming as well. The family purchased orchards in Glenmore and East Kelowna (currently known as the Harvest Golf Club).
Rome Verna and Marisa Verna Russo
Giovanni Petretta was born on February 4, 1921 in Santo Stefano Del Sol, Avellino, Campania. Gina Prioreschi was born March 19, 1920 in Bardalone, San Marcello, Pistoia, Toscana. They met while Giovanni was stationed in the Bardalone area, as a military policeman. They wed in 1946 and lived in S Stefano, Giovanni’s family home. But life after the war was hard, in a depressed economy with little opportunity. When there was a chance to go to Canada, they took it.
Giovanni arrived in Kelowna, BC, via Halifax in February, 1950. Like many post-war immigrants, Giovanni was sponsored by a relative, his uncle, Pasquale (Cap) Capozzi. He lived at the Capozzi home while working at Capozzi’s Grocery Store. Although Gina was to immigrate the following year, the Capozzi’s need for household help expedited her departure. Gina and son, Giuseppe (Joe), age three, departed from Italy in November 1950.
Upon arrival in Kelowna, the family settled at the Capozzi’s, before moving to a small home on Water Street, where Rita was born in 1952. They later moved into a suite at the Cacchioni house on Bernard Avenue. During these few years, Giovanni was employed at Sun-Rype and then Calona Wines while Gina worked at the cannery and cleaned homes. To earn extra money, they also worked on their days off at various farms, mostly harvesting fruit.
In 1953, an abandoned vineyard and house in the Bankhead area became available. They were encouraged by August Cacchioni and Cap Capozzi to buy the property. Giovanni remained employed at the winery for a few years, but both worked the vineyard and a few acres of “Italian” vegetables that they sold throughout BC and Alberta. They also took in Italian lodgers, including Giovanni’s brother, Domenico, who arrived in 1954. In 1958 their third child, Maria Pia made her appearance. In the coming years, they expanded their holdings with a small apple orchard in Glenmore, and later, another vineyard and orchard in the Ellison area.
Giovanni, a proud farmer, along with his biggest asset, Gina, and their son, Joe, laboured in the fields sometimes late into the evening. After supper Gina would make bread and do canning late into the night. Joe started helping on the farm when he was just seven and is now still lives on the farm.
Unexpectedly, Giovanni died in 1982, leaving Gina and Joe to oversee the farm properties. Giovanni had overseen most of the farms’ managerial responsibilities. Running the farm fell on Joe’s shoulders with his young family’s support and Gina’s immeasurable knowledge and assistance. Gina continued to work very hard helping on the farms with whatever needed to be done. She lived, independently, on the original farm, until 1996. In 2018, she passed away peacefully at the age of 98. Gina and Giovanni are interred at the Kelowna Memorial Cemetery. Giovanni was a charter member of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club.
NOTE: Giovanni’s father, Giuseppe, came to North America twice in the early 1900’s. He worked in coal mines in Pennsylvania and in the mining industry in the West Kootenay Area.
Pasquale Iafrancesco, son of Giovanni and Cristina Iafrancesco, landowners, was born on May 11, 1913 in Sepino, Campobasso, Italy. Pasquale’s father, Giovanni, came to Canada sometime in 1914 and worked mostly in Alaska before returning back home in 1928. Vittoria Ficocelli, daughter of Giovanni and Vitangela Ficocelli, was born on April 14, 1909 in Sepino as well. Her father, Giovanni Ficocelli, born September 17, 1884, came to Canada in 1911 and worked in Fort Steele, BC as a section foreman for Canadian Pacific Railway for approximately 18 years. Pasquale and Vittoria were married on January 4, 1937. They had three children, twins Vitangela and Giovanni (born November 29, 1937) and Giuseppe (Joe) (born March 19, 1947).
Pasquale spent many years in the army, fighting during the war (starting with military in 1933 and then in later years being called to combat action until 1945). His family has two different medals “La Croce de Merito de Guerra” that were given to him in recognition of his service.
Sponsored by Vittoria’s cousin, Vincenzo Ficocelli, Pasquale immigrated to Canada by boat in 1949 and went to work as a section maintenance man for Canadian Pacific Railways from 1949 until 1976. He started working in Field, BC, and then to Emerald, Golden, Rogers, Stoney, Glacier, Albert Canyon, Twin Butte, Revelstoke, Sicamous, and finally to Kelowna, B.C. His son, Giovanni, immigrated in 1953 and his daughter, Vitangela, arrived in 1957. Pasquale’s wife, Vittoria, and youngest son, Giuseppe, arrived at Montreal in 1963 and continued on to Calgary, AB, to join the family. In 1964, Pasquale was transferred by CP Rail to Kelowna, B.C. He remained with CPR until his retirement in 1976. Tragically, Giovanni passed away at the age of 24 years. Daughter, Vitangela, married Gabrielle Cusanelli and remained in Calgary. Pasquale enjoyed family and friends, gardening, making homemade wine and sausages/prosciutto and was an original member of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club. Vittoria worked in seasonal agricultural farming.
Son, Giuseppe (Joe) Iafrancesco, worked for CP Rail as a conductor/brakeman from 1967 until his retirement in 1997. He married Maria Bianca Russo in 1976. Giuseppe, was involved in numerous organizations throughout his entire life. They included the Knights of Columbus, Rotary, Lions, Kelowna Chamber, National Congress of Canadian Italians and the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club, where he was president for many years. Joe was recognized for his volunteer work at the local, provincial and federal levels, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award, Kelowna’s Fred Macklin Award and Central OK Crimestoppers Award.
Sadly, Vittoria Iafrancesco passed away on June 5, 1990, Pasquale Iafrancesco passed away on June 10, 1994, Son, Giuseppe (Joe) Iafrancesco passed away on November 2, 2018. All three are entombed at Lakeview Memorial Gardens Mausoleum in Kelowna, BC.
M. Bianca Russo Iafrancesco
In 1949, Mario Dapavo emigrated to Kelowna, BC, from Frinco, Asti, Piedmont, Italy. He was born on August 27th, 1920, the second youngest in a family of six siblings of Giovanni and Marcellina Dapavo. Sponsored by his cousin, Dino Dapavo, he worked as a farm hand until getting into the logging industry and finally working for the City of Kelowna in 1963. He retired as a foreman in 1985.
The six-foot-one Mario, met, and later married the diminutive five-foot-one Sabina Luperelli on Jan 11th, 1958. Sabina (born Nov 24th, 1921) came to Kelowna from Santo Stefano del Sole, Italy (Naples area) in early 1956. She followed her sister, Maria Petretta. Initially she worked as housekeeper, for the Capozzi family, then working dual jobs at the fruit packing house and Stewart Brothers nursery. She worked for many years at Royal Bakery on Bernard Avenue and finally, a ten year career at the Capri Hotel.
Mario was a hunter and avid fisherman, greatly enjoying the great Okanagan outdoors. Sabina and Mario enjoyed their large garden with the fruits of their labour, a great variety of vegetables and fruit trees. Sabina was also a great cook. She hosted other Italian families and interchanged great dinners with the Petretta and Zaino families on special holiday occasions.
Mario and Sabina had twins, Louie and John on Sept 27th, 1958. Unfortunately, John past away 3 days later. After eleven years into their retirement, they made the decision in 1997, to move to North Vancouver to be closer to Louie, his wife Laurie and grandchildren: Kelsey, Stephanie and Julia. Mario passed away in October of 1999 and the ever youthful Sabina lived another twenty plus years. The great matriarch of the Dapavo family passed away in March 2020, a year and a bit before her 100th birthday.