I was born in 1949 in a village called Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Italy’s mountainous Abruzzi Region.
Dad had worked for a year after WWII as a coal miner in Belgium. An uncle sponsored him so he could immigrate to Canada in the early 50s. With his mining experience he got a job in Timmins at the McIntyre gold mine.
Dad brought us to Canada a few years later. Mom, my younger sister and I embarked from Italy on the M. S. Saturnia. Apparently we were seasick during the trip across the Atlantic. We disembarked a week later in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the now famous Pier 21. Unfortunately I remember nothing of the trip.
We boarded a train in Halifax and a week later, after stops in Montreal and North Bay, we arrived in our new home in Timmins.
Timmins was a small town and we had family and friends nearby. There was also a large Italian community, probably because the mines in the area had jobs and many Italians, though unskilled, were hard workers. We had a good life as kids in Timmins. We celebrated birthdays with family, went on picnics, picked mushrooms, made wine, sausages and prosciutto. Easter was a big deal in those days. Mom and Dad marked the occasion by buying us new outfits and shoes. We attended mass in style. Of course we also celebrated Christmas, although it was less of an event than Easter, as far as I remember. The Church was a big part of life. I was even an altar boy for a while at Sacred Heart Church. How times have changed.
We lived in Timmins for about ten years. In the early 1960s Dad suffered a mishap at work. A large timber had fallen on his foot and had broken it. He spent several months recovering at Workman’s Compensation in Toronto. He did go back to work and the company assigned him a new job at the mine’s 7,000 foot level. A few months later Dad decided he’d had enough of mining and he moved the family, which now included two more sisters, to Toronto.
I graduated from high school in the late 60s and then attended university to receive an engineering degree. I met the Missus, my “hard headed woman”, in the late 70s and married her soon after.
I retired after many years working for a provincial government department, first as an engineer and eventually as a policy analyst.
The Missus and I now live in a lovely waterfront home on the beautiful Bay of Quinte.
Life here is good and as Bob Dylan says, “I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range.”