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
770 Lawrence Ave.